When he was still young and green, he liked to say, “I’m separate from you.”

Her reply never varied. “That’s how it should be.”

Even so, he suspected there was something beneath her quiet, calm patience, a secret that belied her answer. He thought it might have to do with the echoes of her he still felt beneath his skin—residue of his origins that brought alternately comfort and rebellion.

When he felt calm, he knew there was nothing more to do than be right where he was—reaching towards the light, soaking in all that was good around him.

But when he felt uneasy—felt the echoes of her too closely under his skin—he would quiver and shake and bend practically double—angling as far from her as he could—only to whip back against her side, hurting them both.

As if that were proof of his independence.

These indignities, she calmly endured.

After a time, he began to understand. For as he grew, the space between them grew less and less, their roots impossibly tangled, until finally their very skin began to meld, cells and memory knitting together.

Then, and only then, did she say, “You were always meant to be right here.”

“By your side,” he said.

“A part of me.”


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