Richard regarded his solitude as something sacred as a well earned badge of honor, a cloak to be worn to ward off life. As his safety. Solitude is who he was. This caused those in his life to view him with a barely veiled contempt. Richard was certain tat he was not liked. Which is hard on a man. Maybe it was because he gave nothing that he received nothing in return. In any case, his situation had become intolerable. The closest things he had to friends were either imaginary or extinct. And Richard had reached a point of life where this was no longer enough. And then he met a girl… And she was warm. And she was sad. And she was maybe lonely in a way that reminded him of himself. She’d lost things that a girl should never have lost. And she knew things. And she taught him. And Richard thought: “Maybe this is what friendship feels like. Maybe.” It was just a glimpse, they’d barely begun, really. But in those long, few winter days, she’d given him so much. Enough so that Richard could go on. And what had he given her? Just a few words on a page. Not much, perhaps. But for Abby, he hoped it was enough.