"The scale upstairs registered my weight," my father said.

"What is it?" my stepmother asked.


"See, I don’t think you weigh that much." Ice cubes fell, clinking like small bells, into a tall glass. He poured himself a whiskey and added Coke that fizzed loudly in the still, quiet room.

"You look like an even 295. An even 295.” She paused. “Not to strip you of your dignity or anything.”

I glanced up from the novel I was reading. For the briefest moment, my father’s face fell. He let out a small sigh and leaned on his elbows on the black and mocha granite counter top. It was the same counter top that our neighbors to the south of us had; their kitchen window was not more than ten feet away from ours. He took two gulps of his drink, frowning into the glass.

"What should we watch on TV?" he asked the room. A dog barked outside in the distance, and after a few minutes, it stopped.

And maybe — maybe — love will arrive, and remain. That could happen. There’s no obvious reason for love’s skittishness (though there is as well no obvious reason for the behaviour of neutrons). It’s all about patience. Isn’t it? Patience, and the refusal to abandon hope.

Michael Cunningham, The Snow Queen