soft light, wooden floors, a nautical clock gently chiming the quarter-hour. we sit at our kitchen table; a tiny ticking sound can be heard from a timer, which tells us that the chocolate chip cookies filling the house with a rich vanilla scent will be done in just two minutes.

We are silent, unmoving; we passed beyond words long ago. The fading light prompts me to rise and bring a candle to the table, which I light.

The chime sounds from across the room, and you stand and stretch. I cross to help you with the cookies, which always seem to burn if left in the oven even a minute too long.

Near the kitchen door are a few scattered fallen maple leaves. I move to clean them up, but a touch on the cheek stops me. "Leave them." The first words spoken all day. they smell good, and I venture outside to collect some clean dry samples for potpourri.

Now even the candle cannot fight against the autumn evening's waning light. A sweeping wind crosses the house, bringing a distant chime, sounding over and over with the swirling leaves. It's nearly eight. We each have a cookie and a glass of milk. I take your hand and lead you upstairs. We lay down together in bed, and holding each other fall asleep. We have no need for dreams.

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