May’s musical arrival had luckily adapted him for his beloved. Shy, he mentioned his married son; she started speaking of her late daughter. Rose was her name, and she dwelt solely in the past near where the sun-drenched days of childhood abided. To be graceful with the grief, he tried to elegantly, if moderately, speak of his own brother Edward. Was it vulgar, to see Edward with all his baby fat, playing on the jungle gym just before his death as a peer for poor Rose? The smallest thoughts about that peculiar relation bred a certain nervousness in him despite her smile. As loved ones depart, she said, spirits on stairs to eternity, we either have the wisdom to praise the things they were before, or to forget them. Being a mother doesn’t lend itself to the vanity of forgetting, nor does being a brother favor that same ignorance. Later that night, even before the sex had begun, he felt a powerful joy at thinking of her words, and the same relief he had after walks miles long.

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