17. The house was…


The house was utterly different inside. Oh, it was still a shack. Nothing could change that. But the rickety walls had been polished until they were utterly smooth -- they gleamed. And they were covered in marks -- chalk marks, the poet realized, when she reached out, compulsively, to touch one. It smeared across her fingers.

The mathematician made a small sound of distress. He reached out as if to fix the mark, or at least stop her hand for ruining more of the writing. But then he caught himself, and instead turned to a small stone hearth laid in the center of the room, to the fire crackling merrily, and the pot bubbling atop it. He ladled out a bowl and handed it to the poet. Vegetable soup -- with potatoes, and beans, and onions.

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