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Shivers of panic, adrenaline, energy – a madness, that is what love is. It’s a youngster’s game. Not at fifty-four, you can surely count on that.

And yet. There are shivers of panic, the thrill of madness, of energy and adrenaline, a lack of appetite, and she feels giddy, worthy of admiration, adoration, intimacy, attractive; she is significant, positive, exploding. Who would have guessed? Why hadn’t she guessed – he also said ‘Why?’ He’d been dropping hints and giving signs by God he had – not that he believed in God – and she’d not picked up one. And now even the shape of his little finger, the tilt of his head, the way he is, smells, breathes, stands – everything is an invitation that she cannot accept.

Her best friend says, ‘Wow.’

And after a while, ‘How many times did he kiss you?’

‘A delicious offering, and you want to eat it. You only need to stretch out your hand and it’s yours. Could be too rich after the diet you’ve had. Have you thought about the consequences? You know, like the dishes – the greasy burnt ones you soak for days or even throw away – is it really worth it?’

‘It’s not dishes, it’s people.’

She isn’t sure if it is worth it.

And her friend says, ‘Actually, I’m bloody envious.’

You have to follow your dream. So how come it hadn’t been her dream? It hadn’t been and now suddenly it is. Suddenly and breathtakingly is, is everything, is all there is, and she is fifty-four, scarred and marred with life and tedium and now, miraculously, so much energy she’d split open if she couldn’t use it on him, possibly even if she could.

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