I heard Beatrix’s familiar thumping footfalls just before she came from her bedroom into the kitchen, and even then I reacted too slowly. (I’ve always been dull.) “Mommy!” She came in at a near-run, right into my knees as I might have predicted, since that was her affectionate habit. It was just enough to knock the glass vase from its perilous situation in the crook of my arm. Down it fell. My hands were full with the rest of what I’d scooped from the table, books and plates and things, so in that split second I could only watch. The vase missed striking her on the head but landed upended on the hard tile floor, spilling both flower and water. The rose lost enough petals to warrant throwing out, and when I picked up the vase I found a long, straight crack in its mouth. By then Beatrix was back in her room, stifling wretched sobs. I must have shouted.