Supper finished, the table not yet cleared, Helena starts making faces. We all start making faces. She sticks out her tongue and I reach over to grab it, graze it with my fingertips. She accuses me of taking her tongue. I confess and flash her the side of my thumb. Helena comes round to get a closer look. J-F asks me to pass him the imaginary piece of tongue. I do, and he carries it away. Helena follows him. She follows him into the bathroom. J-F flushes the imaginary piece of tongue down the toilet. Helena is in hysterics, sobbing and screaming at her father.
I'm crying of laughter. (Shame on me.)
It takes a long time to console Helena. She won't speak to her father. She comes running to me for a hug. I confess that I hadn't really passed her tongue to J-F. I reach into my pocket, raise my closed, empty hand, and gently part her lips. Helena sighs with relief.