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You don’t like the word “depressed,” and you’re right, I shouldn’t try to diagnose you, but you had been feeling down that summer and I wanted to get you out of the house, so I drove us to Petco to play with the ferrets, and when we got there the Petco Lady said if you hold them by the scruff of the neck they fall asleep—it’s how the mama ferret carries them, she said—and hanging from your pinched fingers the ferret squirmed, yawned and you said we should get one—it would be something to focus your wound energy on during those dull and hot days that stretched out in front of us, but the lease said no pets and even if we could work something out with the landlord I didn’t want the responsibility of a pet—who would take it if we left town, and what would we do if the ferret got sick, how could we possibly pay any medical bill?—and you said fine, because what you really wanted was a baby, something to pour your love into, and I said yes, I want that too, but it’s not the right time—how could we raise a baby in that little house with no dishwasher and so many broken cupboards, and what would we do if the baby got sick, how could we possibly pay any medical bill?—and you said fine, okay, you’re right, and then you just stared out the window, onto the emptying parking lot as daylight left the space between us.

I was searching for words to promise our lives would change, that we wouldn’t always be stuck like this, when the drive-thru sign across the lot flickered on, lighting up the black asphalt, and you turned your face back toward me and I keyed the ignition, steered the car toward the one small comfort I could provide that unraveling summer: the fast food you ate as a kid out in the city washing windows with your dad, a bean burrito—no onions, no sauce—you’d unfurl and inlay with tortilla chips and a gold ribbon of nacho cheese, poured from the warping plastic cup.