“She’s a smart kid. She was always reading. I remember these books she always carried around in her satchel, I think one of them was called Leaves of… Leaves of something.”

“Leaves of Grass?”

“Yeah. That’s the one.”

“Walt Whitman. She likes poetry, then?”

“Yeah. I think so. She had this phrase from a poem that she’d repeat when things got bad. ’Try to praise the mutilated world,’ or something like that. She said it was her talisman.”

“It’s a good talisman.”

“What does it mean?”

“That’s hard to say. Talismans belong to their owners. You can’t really force meaning upon them for someone else.”

“I see. Well, what does it mean to you?”

“I suppose… it’s a type of reconciliation with the world. A promise that no matter how ugly it gets, we’ll always try to find something to praise. Something to love.”

“How on earth do you do that?”

“You keep trying.”

“But someday it’ll be pointless.”

“I don’t know. You really think so?”

“It’s just like swimming in the sea. You get tired enough and you drown.”

“But we’re still here.”

“Yeah. We’re still here.”

Writing month, day fifteen, word count: 13,782


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