Diana steps inside, breathing the faintly musty scent of a house that's been closed for the winter. On the ground floor are two bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, and a powder room in between. The larger room, with framed finger paintings and ABC posters on the wall, is for the twins, and the room across the hall, with a queen-sized bed with a blue-and-green-striped comforter, is hers. Her bathroom (her bathroom!) has marble tile floors and a white-tiled shower, and the floors and the towel racks are heated. It's sparkling clean and looks barely used. As she arranges her handful of toiletries on the counter, Diana can feel her cheeks starting to ache from smiling.
There are two more bedrooms on the second level, including the master suite, where the bed and the bathtub both have stunning views of the bay. The top floor is one enormous room, with a kitchen and dining room on one end and a sprawling living room on the other. Floor-to-ceiling windows surround the room, filling it with light, looking out over the sand and the water, making Diana feel like she's standing on the deck of a ship.There are sliding doors with decks everywhere—decks off the kitchen, with a grill and a picnic table, decks off the second-floor bedrooms, and a half-moon deck off the living room. She's brought a camera, the family's Pentax, and she can't wait to ask Dr. Levy to take her picture, to show her sisters and her mom where she's living and how well it's all worked out.
"What do you think?" Dr. Levy calls from the kitchen.
"It's the most beautiful house I've ever seen in my life," she says, and Dr. Levy smiles, looking pleased and flustered.
"When I was about your age, my parents bought this tiny cottage on a dune, a few miles north. They'd rent it out for most of the summer, but every year we'd come and stay for two weeks, all six of us. Some of my happiest memories are in Truro. I always dreamed I'd buy a place here, and bring my kids for the summer." She hums to herself as she unpacks the groceries, smiling, looking younger, and happier, than she did when they left Boston that morning.
Diana quickly falls into the rhythm of the summer days. She's on the clock from eight a.m. to three o'clock in the afternoon, Monday through Friday. She sets an alarm for seven thirty so she'll have time to shower before helping the twins through their morning routines, making sure teeth are brushed and beds are made and breakfasts, which always include fresh fruit, are consumed. Three mornings a week, Dr. Levy drives them to Gull Pond, a freshwater pond at the end of a long, rutted dirt road in Wellfleet, the next town over. The pond, carved out of the earth by a glacier, has clear, fresh water with a white-sand bottom, and it's ringed by lushly leaved trees. A few docks protrude into the water. People paddle canoes or tack back and forth in sailboats. Little kids paddle in the shallow end, putting their faces in the water at their instructor's word, blowing bubbles. Teenagers sun themselves on the dock.
Dr. Levy stakes out a spot near one of the scrub pine trees and helps Diana get the twins ready for their lessons. Sam is skinny, and speaks with a lisp. He hates the feeling of sunscreen, and whines and tries to squirm away. His sister's more stoic, patient while Diana dabs the thick white cream on her nose and her cheeks. "Stop being such a baby," she says to her brother, her hands on her hips.
Dr. Levy kicks off her flip-flops and leaves her cover-up hanging from a protruding branch. In her plain black one-piece suit, she wades out until she's waist-deep, then submerges herself, dunking her head, standing up with water streaming down her shoulders and back. Once she's taken the first plunge, she launches herself into the water and swims in a slow, steady freestyle, all the way across the pond and back again.
"What if you get to the middle and you're tired? Or you get a cramp?" Diana asks. Dr. Levy looks thoughtful, and then a little guilty.
"I really should use one of those personal flotation devices," she says, half to herself. Then, brightening, she says, "But I'm a pretty good swimmer. Honestly, the only thing to be afraid of are the snapping turtles. And once, I was right in the middle, and something brushed my leg. It was probably just a fish, or a water weed, but I screamed like I was in a horror movie."
Dr. Levy has the same stretch marks as Diana, plus more on her bosom. There are fine lines around her eyes and dark circles underneath them. She pulls her hair back in a scrunchie most days, and doesn't seem to notice, or mind, that it's frizzy. She has a nice smile and an easy laugh, and Mr. Weinberg still looks at her like she's beautiful. She's a good mother, too, calm and patient, never yelling (although Diana thinks it's probably easy to be calm and patient when you've got someone to help you most of the day).