I’m arriving at a house, expected. By appointment. I’m there to retrieve some things, or perhaps to relieve someone. I walk upstairs to a fluorescent lit kitchen. There’s a book on the counter, tattered paperback. I pick it up, leaf through its pages, see her handwriting in notes in the margins. I hope this book is part of the package I’m here to get, but I don’t know if he will allow me to take it. I walk into the living room and she sits on the floor in front of the TV, in a bathrobe, small and young and weak and strong and held in reserve. We exchange awkward hellos. She waves towards the back of the room and I turn towards him. He’s also hunched on the floor, going through a box of books. I ask about the one in my hand; may I? His face sours. His eyes flick towards her and back at me. I await his answer.