every morning i light all six candles and obsessively check the plants. tongue extended, the flame tries to lick the driest leaf but misses every time. is that what you call a ritual? there’s something that makes you hope it’ll catch. the air conditioner coughs out dust and heat all day, and i can never figure out how to fix it. my hair sticks to the back of my neck and the houseflies slide down the walls into sweaty little heaps. once an hour, an exotic bird screams for…