The Professor had a predicament that is difficult to explain. Three days ago his hair changed from strands of red keratin to thin strips of red paper. Two days ago his nails became fragile half-circles of cellophane. Professor Milton Horace could conceal these changes under a hat or in a pair of gloves but these days it tended to damage his new hair and nails. His hair became a pulpy-wadded mess under the waterfall of rain yesterday and his nails had melted and curled inward as if his cell phone overheated. They always grew back at an alarming rate in the same pristine way and despite any prior damage that occurred. These changes were not painful but they were irksome to hide. Each new transformation brought with it an anxiety that sat uncomfortably in his chest. Horace was not sure that Miranda had noticed. It made no difference to her if he slept in a hat as they no longer slept in the same bed. Neither did it matter what his hands felt like because she did not let him touch her. Amelia was observant ever since she was a child she quickly make a mental map of her environment. Moving to New York City at ten had inhibited her exploration. She rode the subway with the other little New Yorkers using her green student Metrocard.
Footsteps echoed down the corridor to his office. Amelia again. Horace snapped shut the Tupperware for this three-bean and sundried red pepper salad. The smell of garlic had already melted into his hands and the essays he planned to grade. The professor pointedly eyed the door, settled further into his chair and waited. She no longer knocked, so the door opened as soon as her footsteps ceased. In the doorframe stood Amelia; her green, bronze-rimmed eyes appeared lighter in the rays of sunlight. Her lopsided violet hair framed her face. Splotches of paint in various colors and degrees of thickness covered her clunky black boots. Her legs were so thin in comparison they looked like they would snap like crisp bean pods. She said nothing before plopping down in the black wood chair before her father’s desk. Amelia rummaged through her shoulder bag that was also covered in dry paint, and took out a partially crumpled piece of paper. There was nothing neat about the girl. The professor pushed aside his lunch and held out his hand for her paper.
It was covered in red marks, none of them his and small drawing in the margins to indicate what she was trying to convey. In the upper right corner on the first page was a small old-fashioned television set with knobs, followed by a plus sign and then an equal sign all equating to a detailed drawing of a brain. On the bottom of the same page, floating on the footnotes were stick figures clutching one another’s ball-like hands and also clasped between the joined hands was a paintbrush.
“What does any of this mean?” The Horace said, his voice feathery with exhaustion.
“It’s about how television feeds our minds but art nourishes our connection to one another,” Amelia said.
“Is not television art?” The Horace said.
“It’s a formulaic art, therefore limited. It is difficult for people to show their creative work through this medium because it is for money and not all art is seen as profitable,” Amelia said. Amelia talked “a great deal of nothing”(Act 1, Scene 1, pg.5).
The professor read the essay once, and then a second time. The words seemed to float on the page. Many lines were crossed out with violet ink, leaving few survivors, and many words were pushed into the margins with arrows pointing to the next group of words to be read. It was dizzying and irritating to read, a kind of visual mental torture.
Their cat Benny blinked a few times before stretching his body out, scratching the essays with his outstretched hind paws. Amelia slapped her hands on her laps and Benny obliged, pouncing off the desk and onto her lap.
“The paper is not there yet,” Horace said.
“Hm,” Amelia appeared to deeply consider his words, edging her teeth over her bottom lip. She stroked Benny and he purred, swatting her with his striped tail.
“I wrote the first draft three weeks ago, and then I came here. I worked on the second draft for days after, and then came here. And now a third time,” Amelia said.
“Another try should help,” Horace said.
Amelia lowered her head, her violet hair shrouding the left side of her face. Benny suddenly sat up, his head bobbing up and down like a preying snake before bolting across the office, seeming to attack an invisible prey. Amelia stood and wiped the stray hairs from her green floral dress.
Horace leaned forward and said, “I look forward to seeing the final draft.”
Amelia replied “Nice hat.”
It was faint, but he could read clearly the serif font word across his cellophane nails. They were slightly curled due to the heat reflected from the windowpanes. May was slowly encroaching over Brooklyn, but August heat had already smothered the narrow streets. The words in a deep onyx read imagination. The Professor rubbed the nail of his index finger. Neither the vigorous rubbing nor the oils from his fingertips could erase the imagination. Now words were coming off essays and onto him. He was wearing gloves when he looked over her essay but it was now plastered on his nail, as permanent it seemed as a Tattoo. Benny meowed. Hungry again. The professor had wasted ten minutes and had class in nine.
The night Miranda told Horace she was divorcing him was strange in a number of ways. Horace remembered back to a few weeks before then and the new shirt and tie laid steam pressed by the dry cleaners on the bed. Miranda yelled from the bathroom adjoining their room that she made reservations at a new sushi place called Fusion on Court Street. It sounded like the sort of restaurant will there would be deconstructed sushi with all the ingredients splayed across the plate. He thought or more accurately hoped it meant she would talk with him. She seemed chipper when she told him at first and reminded him over the weeks.
On the car ride over Miranda applied deep red lipstick and readjusted her bra so her breast would peek out from the plunging neckline. Horace noticed they were seated dead center in the main dining room. The restaurant glowed with soft orange and green neon lights embedded in the wall in addition to more conventional white lights above head. Miranda ordered for Horace and herself and he was angry with how friendly she was with the waiter. Horace noticed then she carried her work purse with her. His eyes continued to drift to it as Miranda talked about movies, this new thing called a “Netflix Binge” and the décor of the restaurant. When all that remained was middle puddles of soy sauce on their places Horace thought they were done but Miranda insisted they try desserts as well. Horace had done the mental math in his head and the meal between the two of them cost nearly $73.54 with tax and gratuity. Miranda called the waiter over, sounding impatient. She touched his arm that time and Horace gripped his chopsticks tightly. She ordered matcha green tea sorbet and mochi ice cream. He was sure he did not want either of those but her strange behavior made him want to see how it all would end. They ate their desserts and Horace was surprised by how much he enjoyed mochi once he got past the strange texture. The main dining area was fuller when she placed the thick packet of paper in front of him.
Miranda said, “I think it would be best for both of us.”
Horace realized she meant herself and Amelia and not she and him and somehow knowing that was worst.
A day later Horace felt less bulky than usual. The warm stale wind for the D train pushed him a few feet down the narrow platform like a paper bag. A young girl wearing juice-stained pink top, tutu, and rainbow-striped tights gazed at him. Her soft gray eyes utterly mystified him. The man with her he assumed was her father, by the matching gray eyes shielded her, perhaps thinking Horace was trying to get attention from the young girl. The train finally clattered to a stop, and the screech of metal on metal caused the girl to cover her ears with her hands.
Horace remembered fragments of when Amelia was that young and had the same wide and bewildered look in her eyes as the girl in the subway. As a child, Amelia had delicately put her hands on everything and had spent a great deal of time touching what she worked with. She would feel the smoothness of the wax crayons before she drew, contemplate for a long period of time what color paint to use, and sort and sort again any crafting pieces at her disposal. Miranda proclaimed Amelia was a genius and Horace was disturbed by how long the girl could observe and ask nothing. The only thing Horace was sure about children at age thirty-two was they needed many things and asked many questions, but Amelia spoke so little. She was like a small alien gathering data for her home planet.
One morning Amelia was off from school so she busied herself around the house. Fractured crayons were spread over the kitchen table. Amelia held a few in both hands like bouquets and slid them across the wide paper, creating jagged rainbows. She repeated her experiment at different lengths, created circles and phone-cord-like squiggles. Amelia looked up from her drawing and stared at Horace. At that time she was five, her eyes had darkened from blue to green, and her nose was no longer a small bump and had the beginnings of a defined bridge. Horace could not place her features.
It was not until he eased into a leather chair at the lawyer’s office that Horace realized he lacked warmth. The warmth from the chair was like the prickly sensation of needles after submerging one’s ice-cold hands in warm tap water. The human skin stayed around ninety-eight degrees regardless of external cold or warmth. Horace was as tepid as a forgotten coffee. The thought of examining himself the next chance he got was competing with his focus on why he was at the office. Entwined in Horace’s beefy hand was his cell phone. Miranda had called multiple times in the last hour, expecting him home a few hours earlier. She called once more and Horace was now annoyed. He squeezed the side button, forcing the phone to sleep, and placed it on the outdated copies of Self magazine.
Horace refused to sign the documents just yet, not entirely sure he would still be himself if and when he decided but still convinced all they needed was time. The divorce lawyer opened the door to his office. It was the only enclosed one in the one-floor realtor agency turned law firm.
“Legal advice I can give, marriage advice I cannot. It is normal for people in the process of divorce to seek counseling.” The lawyer spoke very casually, more so than he did with Horace in the past. He was getting paid soon so why bother with formalities?
“I’d like to see the documents,” Horace said.
“Did no one serve you the documents?” the lawyer said, concern painting his voice.
“No, she gave them to me. Something happened to them,” Horace said. The truth was he’d torn it in two once she left the bedroom. Miranda had had an affair at the beginning of their marriage. If there was anyone that should be divorcing anyone, it should be Horace.
“I’ll copy it for you now,” the lawyer said, looking at Horace’s hat rather than his face. Sweat was forming around the tight band of the wool hat. If he took it off, he would be utterly embarrassed. His new hair was wet again.
It was nearly eight, and an indigo curtain had been drawn across the sky. The wind bleated through holes in the blue boards shrouding the construction site for a new block of condominiums. Gray stratus clouds were spread onto the sky like worn gauze. Horace couldn’t help thinking about the identical eyes of the father and daughter, both like developing thunderstorms, with flecks of a shiny steel-like gray. Horace couldn’t calculate the chances but still, the thought nagged at him in a way that weighted down his core. Amelia looked nothing like him nor his wife, Miranda. Amelia’s serpent green eyes and white blonde hair clashed like shattered porcelain with Horace’s red hair, Miranda’s jet black hair, and their equally black eyes. The red hair came to mind; red hair was more recessive than blonde, and that is what made him unsure.
He walked through the light from long windows that stretched onto the sidewalk, pausing for a moment before going in.
Amelia’s leg was hooked over the arm of the chair, popcorn balanced on her thigh and her hand resting under her shirt on her bare skin. Miranda sat near her with Benny between them, the bluish light from the television flickering on her face. Horace was in the study within earshot, which was more of a nook in the living room; the three-walled area had his desk and a small shelf with books about grammar and formatting. The rule was for Amelia to not disturb Horace.
“Mom, do you think that he really did that much damage or do you think she just wants more money like, how could an old laptop be worth a thousand dollars?” Amelia said.
“I don’t know,” Miranda said “ suppose the hard drive or graphics card perhaps, but she will get her money anyway because of what he did to her car,” folding Benny’s ears down as she stroked his head. Benny kneaded his paws into the sofa, making small perforations.
“I don’t think she’ll win the cell phone bill bit, though,” Amelia said.
“ I don’t know how you could watch such trashy television,” Horace said.
“It’s not trash; it’s our justice system at work,” Amelia said.
“It’s a television show; it must be staged to some degree,” Horace said as he flipped through papers.
“The stage is great,” Amelia said. “ It doesn’t make it any less entertaining that it isn’t real. Even the most peculiar situations are entertaining.” Horace drew his complete attention back to his work. Amelia slid her leg from over the armrest; her foot thudded onto the carpet.
“Why does he always do this,” Amelia said softly, leaning onto her mother. Miranda situated herself so she could hold Amelia against her chest. Under Miranda’s thick eyelashes Horace could see a glare in his direction. Horace could not help but to be hyper critical of what Amelia and Miranda liked, or for that matter life in general. Miranda often told him she was sure after all of those years of having a Type A personality and reading book after book, the inhalation of all that old book glue had gone to his head.
Pearls of diluted canary yellow, pumpkin orange, glacier gray and coral pink slid down the left wall in Amelia’s room. The pumpkin skinned man was holding in his arms a blooming coral-colored bud. Entrapped inside was a gray child that grasped with both hands at the petals. Using varnish, the skin of the child appeared sickly and detached, almost translucent, while the scene around connected like veins, pumping life into each corner. Seven varieties of flowers, both open and closed, gravitated toward the center and parsed out specks of flowers bursting around the edges like collapsing galaxies.
Amelia’s arm was bandaged in dry paint and the carpet below her new work stained with a long brownish blot. After spring break was over she would not be able to do any painting, so Amelia had to do as much as possible before the vision evaporated.
There was a light tap at her door before a soft creek. Amelia sat up in her bed, eyes half closed.
“Honey, we’re about to leave for dinner,” Miranda said as she ducked her head in, her thin black hair swaying beneath.
Amelia patted her bed and Miranda waltz over and sat on the foot of the bed.
Amelia nodded and looked to the wall and waited for Miranda’s eyes to follow her own. “Amelia,” Miranda said. She glided to the piece and held both hands to her chest, the temptation to touch it very strong.
“Amelia”, Miranda said, reverently.
“It’s not done yet,” Amelia said as she slid out of bed.
“I want to take a picture of this; I’ll go get my camera,” Miranda said in a flutter.
She did not hear Horace come to her door, only the low reverberating throaty growl. “What have you done?” Horace said through his teeth.
“I painted,” Amelia said.
“On the wall?” Horace said.
“Yeah,” Amelia said slowly.
“If we move, we’ll have to paint all over this and replace that dingy carpet,” Horace said, pointing to the brown mess.
“But we aren’t moving,” Amelia said.
Miranda returned, her Nikon strung around her neck.
“Have you seen this?” Horace said, throwing up his arms up towards the wall.
“Yes, I have. I have seen it, even if you don’t,” Miranda said.
“I see it; I see depreciated property values,” Horace said.
“We aren’t moving,” Amelia said.
“Are we moving?” Amelia said.
Silence fell over Horace.
“No, we aren’t,” Miranda said. Horace’s eyes widened.
“She makes a mess and you encourage it. She can paint on canvases. We can’t remove the wall to put in a gallery,” Horace said.
“You’re in one of your moods,” Miranda said as went to Amelia’s side.
“Why are you so angry? Why do you hate me so much,” Amelia said, blinking away tears from her eyes. As she fought back tears creases formed around the bridge of her nose as her mouth turned inward. There was nothing accusatory about her tone, only heavy exasperation.
A strong burning and squeeze sensation in Horace’s chest caused him to pause. Horace felt as if he had swallowed a glowing charcoal briquette. He grabbed at his shirt with his gloved hands and looked as if he would rip off all the incandescent buttons. Miranda walked to him as Amelia stood perfectly still. Before Miranda could get a word out, Horace was able to compose himself.
“Are you okay?” Miranda said. He nodded. The pain was gone. The thumping in his chest was gone. His heart had turned to paper.
Miranda stood by the window, the setting sun pooling around her feet. She had on a look murderous enough to cause a sane person to slink away—everyone but Horace. Out of all the subjects Horace studied, Amelia was one he was unqualified to have an opinion on, according to Miranda’s reactions.
“The girl,” Horace began.
“Amelia,” Miranda said.
“She is out of control.”
“She needs to discover who she is,” Miranda said.
Horace muttered something inaudible as Miranda’ s teeth looked as if they gated words she would regret. Horace ran his finger under the band of his hat to wipe off the droplets of sweat. It did little good.
“Would you take off that ridiculous hat?”
“I want to know.” Horace stood, stuffed his gloved hands into his pockets, his shoulders rising slowly into a shrug, and “Is she mine?” His shoulders dropped quickly and he softly huffed.
“Why are you asking this now?” Miranda’s feet shifted in the puddle of sunlight.
“I thought her blonde hair was temporary,” Horace said. “ I thought she would start to look like you or me.”
“That doesn’t mean anything,” Miranda said.
“Why do you want it to mean something?”
“I just need to know,” Horace said. He paused, “You want to take her, is that it? You don’t think I can take care of her?”
“This isn’t about money,” Miranda said.
“I didn’t say it was.”
“Let me finish, ” Miranda said, “ You don’t seem to like Amelia. Over the last two year, she’s become the girl.”
“I can’t help the way I feel,your’s” Horace said. “ I’m not the one at fault here.”
“Whose fault is it?” Miranda said “Amelia’s or mine?”
Horace shifted his eyes to the window, unsure of what to say. Tears slid down Miranda’s face.
“We’d been in here all day dividing up blame,”
Horace said. I don’t want to get caught up in that. It’s not Amelia’s fault. I know that.”
“You treat her like it’s her fault,” Miranda said. You have no idea how much it hurts me.”
“It wasn’t even a month.”
“It was a mistake, but yours. I’m sure of it.”
“Scientifically?” Horace said. “Or is it a gut feeling?”
Miranda didn’t respond.
“I want a DNA test,” Horace said flatly.
Miranda didn’t respond.
It felt like having a greeting card in a pocket, only the pocket was unopenable flesh. His newly transformed heart was irritating and he found himself wanting his lungs and the remaining muscle to transform. Maybe then it would no longer be irritating, he thought. Horace took a Bayer aspirin to appease Miranda before she went to bed, and Amelia was watching television in the living room. A small stack of paper sat before him. In large block letters: FILED. The next page: FAMILY DIVISION. It had been signed by Miranda March. A blur of blonde fur shot across before hitting the table leg. Benny stood on his hind legs, with his front paws on the seat of the chair. Horace patted his lap and Benny scampered across the chair and onto his lap. Maybe he’d get to keep the cat in the divorce.
That’d only be if he were himself long enough. It had been nearly a week and four things had changed. His hair was red thin strips of construction paper; his nails fragile cellophane, his heart a thick cardstock and, his body lighter, how long before he was immobile and more terrifyingly nonhuman.
Amelia walked in with an empty glass and headed for the fridge before freezing in place. “Hello, Amelia,” Horace said.
Amelia features’ became a collage of confusion and sadness.
“I’m sorry,” Horace begun.
“What is happening to your face?” Amelia interrupted. Horace touched his face and was greeted by a flat woven texture. He was able to feel the fine fibers in this new skin, finer yet stronger than his other attributes.
“You’re so pale,” Amelia said, her fingers shakily grazing the fabric of her loose-fitting salmon pink sweater. Amelia gripped her glass tighter, perhaps out of fear or to keep it from falling, maybe a mix of both. Neither of them said anything for a while. Horace upturned the corners of the paperwork, the sound comforting while Amelia stared. Her personality made her nearly incapable of her actions causing offense. Amelia’s smooth and round baby-like face gently studied his.
“How?” Amelia said.
“I’ve changed,” Horace said, laughing nervously, He had never been good at humor or even understanding it. He flicked the upturned corners with his fingers.
“It’s been happening for about six days.”
“It’s why you’ve been acting strange, isn’t it?” Amelia said. “Wearing hats and gloves in this heat?”
He turned over the documents,” Yes, this is why among many other reasons.”
Once the shock had subsided Amelia felt compelled to touch Horace’s skin. It was smooth, raised like veins in other places that resembled dried plant fibers, yet it was warm and elastic like human skin. Amelia, like many artists, had an obsession with paper and ink. For her last Birthday, Miranda had purchased a few sheets of paper for her, the grand total being thirty-two dollars. Even that paper could not replicate the quality Horace’s skin now had. Amelia wondered if she drew on it would Horace be able to wash it off. She did not ask, but the urge gripped her heart.
“You’re not disconcerted with me,” Horace said.
“No,” Amelia said.
Horace said no more as Amelia’s soft hands went over his noise that lost its roundness is was more like a halved pyramid.
A heavy guilt had risen in his flattened heart. Horace was not able to accept Amelia like Amelia accepted him because she was a creation of Miranda’s selfishness. Horace knew Amelia simply accepted him and a part of him wondered if he should tell her. He quickly pushed away that idea because even if it were true it was only an excuse.
“What was the painting about on your wall about?” Horace said. Amelia stopped, positioned her right hand in front of his face before letting it fall into her lap.
“It’s about the birth of the person. Not merely being born but discovering who you are. You don’t have to be a child to discover it. I was not born knowing what I know now but I was gray. I had the potential to sort the black from the white. I did not have art in me but the potential was around me. It’s basically a colorful representation of blank slate. Kind of ironic, is it not?” Amelia paused, folded her hands in front of her.
“We are shaped by what is around us, like how mom can be scattered sometimes and grandma is that way. The world has a way of rubbing off,” Amelia said.
Horace knew that all too well.
“You understand Irony?”
“I understand many things. I’ve learned only from the best.” Amelia elbowed Horace on his arm.
They talked all night and only noticed its passing by hunger. Amelia got Horace to eat dried seaweed. He obliged and said it was tasteless and chuckled. As the sun peeked through the blinds, settling between the rows of brownstones and young oaks Horace’s eyes had become black marbles. It did not affect the strength of his eyesight but rather now his eyes had no irises to follow.
The attic was the only place Horace could stay with his predicament. When Miranda had looked around the house for him, Amelia had told her he’d went to Hunter College early. Horace had new words printed on his skin. In addition to imagination, were divorce, custody, depreciated, and trash. Thankfully, divorce was in a place Amelia could not see. When she returned from her early college class, she had a stack of art books. Some of the Art books were pushing the corners of her backpack too far out revealing the threat that kept it together.
The attic was empty with the exception of a vacuum cleaner, boxes of Christmas decorations, and a wrought-iron canopy bed from Amelia’s princess days. When she walked in Horace sat in the center of the bed, his marble eyes appearing attentive but she could not tell. She had five classes that day and much had changed. His paper skin was joined in two halves by a blanket-stitch and paper-bag-brown. His body was flatter and like that of a gingerbread man but he was still able to maintain his posture. All of his fingers were gone and only his thumb remained, the rest of his hand rounded out like a mitten. The most unsettling difference was that his mouth was gone and replaced by a large stitched X.
“I think I can help,” Amelia said, speaking softer than usual.
Horace bent his head forward and back, no longer being able to nod due to lacking his longer neck. It was simply a juncture rather than a body part.
Amelia walked backward into the bed, dropping the backpack by dipping back and letting it slide off. Horace watched as she dropped the landscaped-oriented, coffee-table-sized and, oversized art books on the bed, one by one, each with a thud. Amelia discarded her backpack like it had betrayed her and quickly opened the Humanist to Post-Impressionist era art book, placing Horace’s new hand on it as if he were swearing in a court of law. Nothing happened. Amelia continued to optimistically flip through the heavy glossy pages. Monet only made the colors on Horace richer but it didn’t change him back to a human. Van Gogh gave him evenly segmented texture as if someone had drawn many brown dashes of varying shades but caused no other result. After three books, there was one large book of photography left. Horace patted it with his hand and Amelia took it to mean he wanted her to try.
In a strong ray of light stood a man taking a photograph of himself in front of a mirror. Nothing appeared to happen. The next photo in full color was a girl, with cotton candy blue and sea foam green hair. The stitches began to disappear, the skin rejoined front to back without an edge. The next photo was of a new baby, nude in a basket, and Horace’s skin softened like the newborn. The black marble eyes remained after more than half the book before changing. Amelia smiled as tears formed in her eyes. Horace touched his face, there was a new youthfulness to it, but it was back to human. The only differences were one part of his red hair was cotton candy blue and sea foam green, and his blue eyes were now a swirl of closely packed blue dashes like Van Gogh’s starry night. It was the price. Amelia could feel the warmth from his skin when their hands collided on the page.
Amelia and Horace waited to hear the car roll down the driveway and onto the street before walking down from the attic. She held her backpack to her chest like a child as she walked down from the ladder. There was a strong silence throughout the house, but it conjured a warm comfort, mitigating some of the remaining unease of possible failure of changing Horace for good. They both walked down the four steps to the kitchen hungry. Horace cooked spaghetti, the only meal he could make. The twenty dollars and Wing Hua menu Miranda had left on the counter he ignored. Neither of them spoke for a while and only worked in perfect synchrony setting the table.
Miranda returned with a 10-pound bag of food for Benny from Beastly Bites. Horace pretended to be deep in work at his study, enclosed by his invisible wall. Amelia was sitting on the couch when she came in.
“Mom,” Amelia called.
“Yes, honey,” Miranda said, sounding tired.
“Can we talk?”
“Give me a moment,” Miranda said quickly before putting the bag of food on the small table beside the front door, nearly knocking over the key bowl. She walked briskly into the living room and sat beside Amelia.
“Yes?” Miranda said.
“We did a makeover of sorts,” Amelia said.
“Makeover?” Miranda said. Amelia nodded.
“Well, let me see,” Miranda said.
Horace shifted in his seat before pushing it back a bit and standing up. Miranda looked on intently as he turned around. Miranda suppressed laughter. His hair looked ridiculous. Amelia felt something familiar but could not put her finger on it.
“It’s art,” Amelia said, her voice rising.
“It is art,” Miranda said. The tone was not in agreement but only parroting what Amelia had said.
“He transformed because I showed him pictures,” Amelia said, the words tumbling out her mouth like acrobats.
Miranda took a short intake of air, forming a vowel before stopping cold. Horace noticed her eyes more focused on him than before the divorce was filed. His eyes were like waves. It was like his eyes were in a constant spin cycle. Miranda had avoided them these past eight months but was now intrigued yet mournful that she had lost something else. Horace’s eyes shifted, noticing Miranda’s shifting to what appeared to be a mix of shame and embarrassment.
“Amelia and I worked on this together and I hope you don’t mind the change,” Horace said. Miranda’s eyebrows raised, reading in his face the sincerity and reverence in his voice. This was and was not the professor, husband and dad she had known and it both made her happy and unsure at the same time. Amelia sat with her hands in her lap and still, not wanting to break the bubble of time they were in. Horace looked over to Amelia and smiled.
 Shakespeare, William, Merchant of Venice