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The black ice, treacherous beneath a blackening sky. Bitter wind seeps through chimney bricks.

Your presence is so soothing to me, I say, breaking the silence.

What? Just having me around?

Mmm, just the sound of your puttering.

This is not puttering.

What would you call it then?

Dusting? Puttering would be me trying to fix something—trial and error. This is dusting, he says again as he straightens the picture on the wall and sets another back upright on the little bureau by the love seat I am laying on. It had been my mother’s when she was young, made for her by her father. Then it was mine when I was young, converted into a vanity with a yellow checkered gingham skirt she had sewn and tacked around its top edge. There was a split down the center front so I could get in and out of the drawers which held my underwear, slips, and tights. Maybe some nail polish, Noxema, a diary, but I’m not sure anymore. Now it holds a few tablecloths, random Christmas ornaments left behind, a bit of wrapping paper, ribbons, and a big dish for husband’s lose change. Family photos are arranged across the top. All but one new baby represented.

A steady hum of the humidifier, the faint voice from the TV, puppy chewing rawhide.

Thai? Husband asks.

I’m not hungry.

It will take an hour. I’ll order. Wine? Just kidding. It’s only 4:00 o’clock. If we start now, we’ll never stay awake until 9:00.

True, we have to stay awake until 9:00.

We’ve settled in, I guess you would say. Life is simple and sweet, woven together with little tests of endurance, patience, temperance. Breakfast out and a brisk walk in the cold with rambunctious puppy, a day’s big outing.

Are you going to play?

Yeah, just putz, he says picking up his guitar.

Putzing…we speak our own language.

Something to do while I watch this documentary on George Martin.

The candlelight catches my eye across the room. As the day becomes night, a single wick flickers Light.

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