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You Deserve Each Other: Chapter 12

It’s Saturday, which has a new meaning now that I’m still getting used to.

In our old life, if I wasn’t scheduled to work we never spent Saturdays at home. I’d go browse flea markets and thrift shops while Nicholas hung out with his friends: Derek, Seth, and Kara—the ex he’s “just friends” with and who loves to tell me I look tired. I don’t care that she’s married and blissfully devoted to her husband. I’m never, ever going to like her.

Seth’s indifference toward me evolved into jealousy when Nicholas and I got engaged, as if I’m a usurper stealing Nicholas away from him. One-on-one, he’s all right. Get him into a large group setting, and he tries to be a comedian. When this happens, all of his jokes are about Nicholas. He takes little jabs at him constantly, smiling while he does it, which disguises his put-downs as playful ragging. Nicholas’s appearance takes a lot of hits. Nice jacket. You stopping by the country club later? Every time he makes fun of an item of Nicholas’s clothing, it vanishes from his wardrobe circulation. He’s stopped wearing the Cartier watch his parents got him as a graduation present and leaves his Ray-Bans in the car. If he uses a big word, Seth laughs and asks him if he thinks he’s smart. You think you’re at a spelling bee or something?

Since I’m not allowed to rip Seth’s throat out and have been instructed to keep my mouth shut whenever he “jokes around” (Nicholas is in denial that the remarks bother him), I’ve stopped going to social events if I know Seth is going to be there. I’ve asked numerous times why he puts up with this, and reading between the lines of his bullshit responses I got the true gist: Seth was the first guy who wanted to be his friend in college, and now he feels like he owes him eternal loyalty. Since Nicholas wants to be the confrontational type but definitely isn’t, he’s let all the comments slide with an “Oh, c’mon” and an embarrassed laugh.

Offending people who treat him badly is not in his nature, so I’m proud of Nicholas for growing a backbone and ignoring Seth’s recent texts: Come over and help me move, asshole. BYOB. Seth demanding that Nicholas help him move is pretty ballsy, considering he was nowhere to be seen when the shoe was on the other foot and Nicholas had to hire professional movers. People always go to him when they need something because they know he can’t say no. I’m stunned that he hasn’t given in to his guilt yet and skipped off to Seth’s with a case of beer and a large pizza.

Weirdly enough, Nicholas has met up with Leon of all people. To go hiking. Twice. He won’t tell me what they talk about and has called me conceited because he thinks I assume they’re talking about me (which is true, but I bet they do).

Besides getting a ride from Brandy to Blue Tulip Café to discuss her new boyfriend (an optometrist single dad named Vance who I am rooting for because he’s sweet and she deserves someone sweet), I haven’t felt like hanging out with anyone lately, either. Today we’re feeling particularly antisocial. Nicholas and I are too busy torturing each other to leave our little house of hatred.

It starts with the joke I can’t stand.

We’re on opposite ends of the couch, playing on our phones. (He’s gotten a new one for himself.) I’m reading a news article because I need to stay on top of current affairs. This way if Nicholas starts talking about a subject he just heard about, I can say, “Oh, I already heard that.” It’s an excellent thing to do to someone you despise when the object of your … despisement? … is a pretentious know-it-all. 10/ 10, would recommend.

I mutter and murmur about the news article. When he doesn’t ask what I’m reading about, I just go for it with a gasped “Oh my god.”

“Yes?” He raises his eyebrows questioningly, like I just spoke his name.

He often says this when I talk to a deity. He knows I hate it, and I think this gives him life. I’m adding minutes to his life span with my annoyance.

“I hate that joke.”

“Some people find it funny.”

“Nobody finds it funny.”

“Gets a laugh from Stacy every time.”

Dr. Stacy Mootispaw, crusader against khakis and accuser of him never going the extra mile. With as often as Nicholas has mentioned her, I won’t lie to you, when I met her for the first time I was hoping she’d be a grandmotherly type, smelling of baby powder. Twice his age, in self-knitted sweaters with cats on them. A proud furbaby mom with a jolly old husband she loves so much she calls him on every break.

As you might guess, that’s not what Stacy’s like at all.

Her brain moves faster than Usain Bolt. She’s got a million college degrees and could basically do whatever she wanted. The world is her oyster. If she ever gives up the dental game, she could easily model for J.

Crew. She’s got the shiniest black hair I’ve ever seen and a dazzling smile that must be half the reason she’s in this particular industry. Perfect figure.

Glowing skin so blemish-free, it’s like she’s been airbrushed. She doesn’t wear a stitch of makeup but looks amazing anyway and I hate her for it.

People who wake up looking glamorous can’t be trusted.

Rolling my eyes, I go throw a load of clothes from the washer into the dryer, then end up doing a bit of vacuuming and organizing. I guess I’m a housewife now. Or house-fiancée.

“Whew, it’s warm in here. Let’s turn down the heat.”

“You’re just warm because you’re up and moving around.”

“No, it’s definitely warm in here.” I fiddle with the thermostat. It says it’s seventy-two degrees, but there’s no way it’s not at least seventy-five.

This thing is broken.

I sit back down and he stares at me, an irritable bear. “Speaking of Stacy,” he begins, and I quash a rumble in my chest. “I got her for Secret Santa. Any suggestions?”


He gives me a dry look. “Just because we’re dentists doesn’t mean we’re in love with toothpaste.”

“A gift card, then.”

“Mmm, is that too impersonal?”

“Who cares? You’re giving it to your coworker, not your best friend.”

“I want to put some thought into it, though.”

“If you want to put some thought into it, then why’d you ask me for ideas? I barely know this chick.”

“I thought you might be helpful,” he huffs. “You’re both women!”

“Right, and we’re all the same. We all like the same stuff, just like all men like the same stuff. I suppose I’ll take the present I had in mind for my dad and give it to you for Christmas instead. Surprise, it’s a model of the Brady Bunch house!” My dad’s super into collecting memorabilia of older shows like The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family.

“You know what I meant.”

“I know you’re sexist.” I pull a throw blanket over me. “It’s cold in here.”

Nicholas glares. “That’s it.”

“That’s what?” I ask as he gets off the couch and goes to find his coat and shoes. “What’re you doing?”

“What I’m meant to be doing!”

What he’s “meant to be doing” better not be Stacy Mootispaw. I follow him to the door and watch him march out to his car. Getting rid of the Maserati was a solid choice. It doesn’t belong out here at all, whereas the Jeep looks like it was manufactured by nature. “Where are you going?”

He doesn’t respond, peeling out without another word. I spend the next twenty minutes texting him. If he’s in a dingy motel room with Dr. Sultry, the persistent vibration of his phone is going to be a real mood-killer.



Where are you?





Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

Acknowledge me or I’m telling your mom you didn’t come home last night and you might be missing.

Really? Not even for that?

I’m bowled over that my threat produced no reaction from him, and starting to worry that he’s incapacitated somewhere when the Jeep comes clattering up the drive again.

He gets out without glancing at the house, which means he knows I’m watching him through the window. What he hefts out of the back of his car and lifts high above his head nearly makes me faint.

It’s. A. Canoe.

I’m in a lawn chair on the bank of our pond, snapping pictures of Nicholas.

He’s maybe fifty feet out, in his plaid earflap hat and Ghostbuster coveralls, trying to put a bobber on his fishing line. If Freud were sitting next to me, he’d probably deduce that stressors (i.e., me) have caused Nicholas to backslide into childhood to re-create his brightest moment in the sun. He’s going to catch that bluegill again and hold it up proudly for the camera. Everyone will clap.

I call his phone.

He looks over at me in my chair, like, You are ruining this. We could be ten thousand miles apart and I’d still know what he’s doing with his face.

Telepathic waves beam at me, rippling the water like a helicopter’s taking off. He’s thinking loud and clear: Go away. I’m becoming Who I’m Meant To Be. It’s a touch prissy and so familiar that I think I’m starting to love it on him.

This guy. Seriously.

I call him again. This time he answers. “What?” he snaps.

“Whatcha doin’?”

“What does it look like I’m doing?”

It looks like he doesn’t know what he’s doing. But I can’t say that or he’ll hang up. I need to monitor this situation as closely as he’ll let me, for the sake of psychology. Science. America’s Funniest Home Videos, possibly. He’s still struggling to get his line baited because he doesn’t want to remove his gloves.

“Aren’t fish hibernating at this time of year?”

He pauses. “That’s not … fish don’t hibernate.”

“I think I’ve heard they do.”

“Shh. You’re making me talk and I’m going to scare all the fish away.”

“Did Leon say there’s fish in this pond?”

His silence tells me he has no idea, but Nicholas is a prideful man. He’ll stay out here until spring and catch a frog. Emaciated down to fifteen pounds, he’ll thrust the frog in my face. See!? “Shh. I’m trying to catch dinner.”

“I’m not eating fish from this pond. I don’t know if the water’s polluted.”

“First of all, I didn’t offer to share. Secondly, please stop talking. For multiple reasons.” He hangs up and doesn’t answer my next call. The call after that goes straight to voicemail. This is highly irresponsible of him. I could be having an emergency right now and he’s made himself unavailable, which is the first thing I’m going to say to the nurses after rousing from my coma.

Nicholas tries to cast his line, but he doesn’t press the release button at the right moment and the bait never leaves his own canoe. Sneaking a look over his shoulder at me to see if I witnessed that, he stands up and tries again. The poor lamb’s unsteady on his feet and knows he has an audience, which undoubtedly makes this worse. I would hate to have Nicholas watch me try to fish.

It’s like whenever I come upon him while he’s doing push-ups and his body instantly quits on him. The simple fact of me standing there and observing transforms it into a public performance and his legs and arms turn to jelly. I bet video montages of his contributions to grade school plays will play on an endless loop when he gets to hell.

Nicholas eventually casts his line about five feet from his canoe and sits down, shoulders hunched. I know the precise moment he remembers his father’s terrible posture, because he snaps straight again. He’s got plaid flannel on beneath the coveralls and has been trying to coax his stubble into a real beard, but no matter how much he tries to be a burly lumberjack he still looks like he belongs in a boy band. The wind slowly revolves his canoe in a circle until he’s facing me against his will, and he has to recast.

He’s dying to look up at me. I’m a specter in his fringe. I’m to blame for the fact that he doesn’t know how to fish. It’s probably dawned on him that the little boy who caught a bluegill had somebody there to bait his hook and do all the arm work. Grown-up Nicholas is a prima donna. He uses rubber worms instead of real ones.

To avoid eye contact, he sets his pole down and starts to paddle his boat back around. His bobber tugs and he drops the oar by instinct to reel in his line. As the abandoned oar starts to tip over the edge of the canoe, he clumsily reaches for the pole and the oar and loses both. Both. Only Nicholas.

Oh. My. God.

Yes? responds Nicholas, even in my imagination.) I can imagine this cheapskate in the store prepping for self-actualization with outdoorsy equipment, debating whether to spring for a second oar.

He’s already dropping so much money on the state-of-the-art fishing pole, I know exactly how he rationalizes buying just the one oar. I’ll stroke on one side of the boat, then the other. Easy.

Nicholas stands in the empty canoe, wind slowly spinning him, utterly decimated by this turn of events.

I stand, too, cupping my hands around my mouth. “How’s it going?”

Nicholas takes off his cap and throws it down in a tantrum, raking his fingers through his hair. The oar is floating toward me. I can’t help it. My laugh becomes the loudest sound in the universe. It echoes through the forest, sending up shocks of blackbirds. It thumps through Nicholas’s veins, making him want to explode.

If it weren’t for my laughing at him, Nicholas likely would have sat down and formulated a plan that didn’t involve him getting wet. But I can push his buttons so well, coherent thinking falls to the wayside and his behavior takes a sensationally un-Nicholas turn.

He picks his hat back up and tugs it firmly down over his head, then dives into the freezing water. I laugh harder, giving myself rib pains, hiccupping. “What the hell are you doing?” I exclaim between vicious bursts. He got himself stranded. Actually stranded. And now he has to swim back to shore. This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. My body wants to give up, it’s so weak from laughing, and I lean on my chair for support.

As Nicholas nears, my vision sharpens and I make out the ferocity in his eyes. His boots and clothes must feel like anchors, but he’s swimming toward me with aggressive swiftness.

Oh, shit.

I’m backpedaling. “I would’ve helped you!” I call. “You should have stayed put.”

It’s true, I would’ve found a way to help him. After letting him sit there for an hour and posting a video of it online.

Nicholas’s teeth are chattering when he emerges from the pond, sopping wet. He lumbers straight toward me. “Agh!” I squeal, ducking and crossing my arms like a shield in front of my face. He picks me up and throws me over his shoulder and my first thought is holy wow. He’s stronger than he looks. Maybe it’s adrenaline strength.

He turns on his heel and heads back to the pond. When I realize what he’s about to do, I clutch tightly to him for dear life while simultaneously kicking and thrashing. “No! Don’t you dare! Nicholas, I mean it!”

He swings me around to tuck me under his arm, planting his boots two feet apart on the bank. I’m flailing like a snake but he doesn’t lose his grip, tipping me over until my face hovers an inch over the water. Our reflected stares meet. My eyes are terrified, and his burn.

“Nicholas Benjamin Rose, I swear to god I will call the police if you don’t put me down right now.”

“Right now?” he teases, sliding me forward a centimeter. He’s going to drown me.

“Not literally right now! On the ground! Put me on the ground!” I kick, but the movement just propels me forward. He’s going to drop me on my face.

Nicholas hesitates. Considers. Then he does this impressive feat of strength in which he flips me like a pancake so that I’m right side up. He bends his face close, and it’s like we’re dancing and he’s just dipped me, leaning in for a kiss. My lungs forget how to function and I’m frozen, wide-eyed in wonder as he leans in closer, closer, closer. His lips are almost brushing mine, and intention solidifies in his gaze. Accepting of my fate, I close my eyes for a kiss and he abruptly tilts me back until my hair is submerged. Icy water chases all the way to my roots.

I scream.

He laughs, setting me upright. “You ass!” I yell, slapping his arm.

Nicholas laughs harder. My hair is the North Pole and I’m traumatized for life. “That’s freezing!”

“Imagine how I feel.”

“It’s not my fault you jumped in the water, you idiot.”

He turns and saunters away. “Shouldn’t have laughed at me.”

I snarl and jump on his back, bringing him crashing down to the ground.

I’m not cognizant of what I’m doing, just that I must destroy this man. I reach out on either side of us and gather armfuls of dead leaves, furiously scooping them over him.

“What are you doing?” he asks, facedown as the leaves scatter over the back of his head. His chest seizes, and then I go bump, bump, bump, jostling up and down when he starts laughing. “Are you trying to bury me?”

“Shut up and stop breathing.”

Nicholas howls with laughter. I’m so upset that he’s not afraid of me and taking the end of his life more seriously that I hop up and down on him in reprimand.

Nicholas rolls and catches my hands before they can shoot out and strangle him. He laces our fingers together, grinning crookedly. “You should see what you look like right now,” he tells me.

A murderous Jack Frost, probably. The image ignites another bout of anger, and I wrestle for control of my hands. He doesn’t let go, tightening his fingers. “Stop stopping me from destroying you.”

Tears leak down either side of his face as he laughs, cheeks pink, breath pluming up in white puffs. It hits me how much I like his laugh. His smile.

His smile is ordinary when taken in on its own, but combined with the adorable laugh lines, the light that glows in his color-changing eyes, it’s remarkable.

Some of the leaves I’ve been messing with have pine needles hidden in them, and they’ve prickled my palms, making them itchy. I rub my hands on either side of his jaw, using his stubble like a scratching post.

Nicholas’s eyebrows go up in disbelief, more tears leaking from the corners of his eyes. He stares and stares at me. “You’re bananas,” he says, not unkindly.

I snort. I have never heard him call anybody bananas. He’s called me ridiculous half a million times, but bananas is so silly a term that I start cry-laughing, too.

He grins wider. “What?”

“You’re a fopdoodle.”

We both laugh. “I saw it on the Internet somewhere,” I insist. “It’s a real word.”

“Your mom’s a real word.”

“Your mom’s a real bad word.”

He lets go of one of my hands so he can wipe his eyes. “Touché.” Then he asks, “What does fopdoodle mean?”

“I assume it’s a fop who doodles.”


I get off him. When he sits up, I shove him backward and hurry off to the house, cackling over my cheat of a head start. I know the first thing he’ll want to do when he gets inside is take a hot shower, so I beat him there. I’m stripping off my clothes the second I get inside, shaking like a leaf with my wet hair, and lock myself in the bathroom. Muah-ha-ha. Now he’ll have to wait. I’m going to take an hourlong shower and use up all the hot water.

The shower has just gotten hot enough to be pleasantly scalding when Nicholas unlocks the bathroom door and bursts inside. We’ve got one of those doorknobs you can pick by sticking a penny into the notch and turning it. I use this trick whenever I need something from the bathroom and he’s shut himself in there to shave or admire himself in the mirror, but I don’t think I appreciate being on the other end of it.

“Hey!” I squeak, trying to cover all my interesting parts with my hands.

The glass shower door is all steamed up, so I’m probably just a flesh-colored blur to him. “I could’ve been going number two in here.”

“With the shower running?”

“You never know.”

My eyes are as big as pumpkins when he peels off his dripping coveralls and rips a flannel shirt over his head. Stomach. Chest. Arms. So much bare skin going on here and I’m not complaining about any of it. Being wilderness bros with Leon and playing with axes and power tools has been kind to him. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Taking a shower.”

“I’m already in here.”

“Good for you.”

Nicholas completely ignores my shock. I’m a modest and innocent puritan lady, and he’s out to steal my virtue. My mind flashes to previous episodes of not wearing clothes with Nicholas and it’s a good thing the water’s so hot, or he’d be able to tell I’m blushing. I remember how his mother has deluded herself into believing he’s a virgin, and I smirk before I can help it.

Nicholas cocks an eyebrow at me as he slides open the door and steps inside. I wait for his gaze to lower, but it doesn’t. He shakes his head in amusement, probably because I’m still trying to cover myself, then turns and starts lathering himself up with soap.

I don’t move. I need to wash my hair but that would require the use of my hands. I decide to face opposite him, minimizing what he can see. The back’s not as interesting as the front, I think.

I’m wrong about that, which becomes glaringly apparent when I catch our reflections in the shower door. He’s looking at me. My gaze slides below his waist without my permission and it’s clear he’s found something about his view to appreciate.

“Don’t look at me,” I hiss.

His laugh is deep and rich-sounding in the acoustics of our foggy bathroom. “I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.”

“How do you know unless you’re looking, too?” He reaches for my conditioner.

I spin around and take it from him. “This is mine and it’s expensive. Get your own.” He smiles like he wants to laugh because I’ve slipped up with the placement of my hands, so I quickly cover his eyes. He squints under my palm, nose scrunching.

“I can still see.”

“Jesus.” I turn around again.


I want to stomp on his foot. My only course of action here is to hurry up so I can escape. I try to bend over a little to make myself smaller, because in my mind that gives him less to see, sneaking glances at him in the shower door. He’s washing himself more slowly than he ever has in his life, staring openly. I think he’s trying to get me flustered. If so, it’s working. I slip a hand behind me, trying to span my fingers over my rear and block him from anything enjoyable, which just makes him laugh again.

“Close your eyes,” I demand.


He doesn’t close his eyes.

“Close them!”

“I did.”

(He didn’t.)

I need to rinse my hair, but he’s standing directly under the spray, giving me very little room to maneuver. I plant a hand on his chest and he’s immediately compliant, falling back. Nicholas’s skin is hot satin under my fingertips, responding to my touch with goose bumps and a quickening pulse. I want to sink my nails into the slightest bit of give his flesh offers, but right now every flinch, every step and turn and tilt conveys a primal message. He’s waiting for the signal that says Help yourself to whatever you want. Don’t be wasteful. Lick me up to the last drop.

To prevent myself from extending an invitation I’m too much of a chicken to deliver on, I keep my eyes shut while I rinse my hair, hand motionless against his chest to make sure he can’t come closer. When I open my eyes again, his gaze is flame, jaw white and set, and I imagine cracks running up the bone all the way to the top of his skull. Mist pearls in his lashes and brows, sweat cropping along the bridge of his nose and the hollows in his cheeks. He’s a ripple of heat and with one gesture from me he’ll gladly roast me alive. My heart goes tha-thump: a wild, winged creature in my rib cage. He looks like he’s about to lose it and I won’t lie, I’m a bit unnerved by what he might do.

It’s been twelve weeks since I’ve had sex. Twelve weeks for Nicholas, too, if he hasn’t been cheating on me.

The image of him sleeping with another woman and me catching him in the act doesn’t inspire the same victorious feeling that it once did. It throws a bucket of ice water over all of my pounding, light-headed need-you, take-me while liquid fury chases through my bloodstream, synapses shorting out. If I discover him cheating on me in a shopping mall parking lot I’m going to end up on the evening news. Stacy Mootispaw better stay out of my fiancé’s dress-code-prohibited khakis or she’s going to be putting her own teeth back into her mouth after I’ve kicked them out.

I can’t let myself think about him that way, with me or anyone else. It’s too dangerous and there are too many axes Leon left behind in the shed. If I conjure up memories of us in intimate positions, superimposing Stacy’s face over mine, I’ll black out and come to with holes smashed through all our walls.

I hurry up with my business, as if I can outrun these intrusive thoughts, and practically fall out of the shower while there are still suds in my hair. I dart a quick glance at Nicholas while grabbing my towel. He doesn’t speak a word, but he might as well have an accusing thought bubble above his head that says Coward.

Running feels like surrendering a dose of my power to him, but I embrace my cowardly ways and hotfoot it up to my bedroom to get dressed. By the time I’m calmed down enough to tiptoe back downstairs, Nicholas is on the couch and his hair’s already dry. It’s so incredibly upsetting, how quickly a man’s hair dries and looks perfectly fine.

“Look outside,” he tells me.

I peer out the window, and my heart soars when a cascade of snowflakes swirls by and sticks to the glass. They melt one by one. “Snow!”

It’s mid-November, but for me Christmas starts at the first snow. I get sparkly-eyed over the season, doing pirouettes around the house while I strew Hobby Lobby decorations left and right. I play all the classics on surround sound and set up the tree well before Thanksgiving. I’m that person on social media you absolutely hate because I say stuff like IT’S

224 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS in May. All the festivities of Christmas, and the joy and magic of it, make me happy, so I tend to stretch it out for as long as possible.

I turn to see what he’s watching on TV, and do a double take. The television is turned off. He’s watching me in the black screen.

Something about the way his eyes are following me feels intimate, making my legs watery. I’m conscious of the way my arms swing when I move, and the way I walk. It’s similar to the way I sometimes move in dreams, where there’s inexplicable resistance. Almost like I’m trying to walk underwater.

I go to the drawing room because I want to see the snow through those three beautiful windows, but his big desk blocks me. He sees the change in my expression when I walk back into the living room.

“What’s wrong?”


He doesn’t speak, but his gaze narrows. He’s got an ankle propped on his knee, fingertips drumming on the armrest of the couch.


It’s a self-appointed martyr’s answer. It ensures that the issue goes unresolved, and that I suffer all by myself. What do I get out of saying nothing?

“It’s just …” I sit down on the other armrest, out of touching range.

“When you first showed me the house, one of the things I liked best were the windows in, uh … in there.” He calls it his office or his study and in my head I still call it the drawing room, because in a past life I was a duchess and I’ve never quite gotten over being reborn as a commoner in this age.

“I thought, wow, what a pretty view. You’d be able to see all the stars over the forest. I’d imagined putting an armchair right there, so I could sit and admire the view. I like that room. I’d put, I don’t know, maybe a nutcracker on the mantel or something. I don’t know.” I shrug to downplay it. I sound insane. A nutcracker? Really? These are my gripes? I’ve been hyperfocusing on such minuscule details.

I’m immediately embarrassed that I admitted this out loud and I’m about to never mind the whole thing when Nicholas stands and walks into the drawing room. Standing on the other side of his desk, he slides his hands into his pockets and stares at the windows like he’d never gotten a good look at the forest beyond them before. “You’re right,” he says. He angles his profile toward me. His eyes are the color of a silver fir. They’re fog and moonlight.

I’m not sure what part of my spiel he’s saying this in reference to, but I’ll take it. We fall into a pattern that is completely new but somehow already feels ingrained: We silently make dinner together and sit down in front of the television. We don’t switch it on. We eat in companionable silence as the snow falls steadily around us and darkness smothers the world.


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