Kevin gives him a quick hug, so fleeting that no one would notice, but still so hard that it speaks volumes. He can never sleep after games, and that’s the only time he smokes. Only best friends know that sort of thing about each other. Only two boys who once lay side by side under the covers, reading comics by flashlight and realizing that the reason they always felt like outsiders was because they were superheroes. A long marriage is complicated. So complicated, in fact, that most people in one sometimes ask themselves: “Am I still married because I’m in love, or just because I can’t be bothered to let anyone else get to know me this well again?” The occasional embrace, a head leaned for just a moment on your shoulder, when what you really wanted more than anything was to press them to you and hold them so tight you fused together and could never be taken apart. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all. In one of the patches of waiting that were like pleats in time, while Corinne remained at their father’s bedside in case he should wake, Marianne and Judd, faint with hunger, had a quick meal in the hospital cafeteria; and afterward, grateful for each other’s company like old friends who’d somehow forgotten how much they liked each other, went outside to walk for a half hour in the bright windy autumn air. The terrifying possibility came to Patrick: our lives are not our own but in the possession of others, our parents. Our lives are defined by the whims, caprices, cruelties of others. That genetic web, the ties of blood. It was the oldest curse, older than God. Am I loved? Am I wanted? Who will want me, if my parents don’t? unite for life in stoic love to the last shrimp and a little longer Love, that is all I asked, a little love, daily, twice daily, fifty years of twice daily love like a Paris horse-butcher’s regular. What normal woman wants affection?
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