Arris lays her head on my chest and sighs lightly, like tulip dew dropping on grass. ‘I can hear your heart,’ she says. I wonder out loud, is it too fast? ‘Steady,’ she says, ‘I’m surprised.’ I am too, living as I’ve been with the thump-pause-thump-thump-triple pause-triple thump-pause-thump pumping like a morse operator jumping at the lines. Yet, I feel unshakeably calm. ‘I feel so safe in your arms.’ I slip my hand to the nape beneath soft linen curls and massage ventricular messages into her mind, finally having found my calling.

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