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Alex is trying to play a song. The rhythm of it is a little off: it’s a syncopated pop-rock riff turned backwards. Down-and. Down-and. Down-and and down-and. Almost everything involving his hands is easy now, which makes the difficulty of finding this chord surprising, and worthwhile.

He picks up the phone when it rings–he wants to be interrupted, so he can say something biting.

“Hello?” he says. He can’t make out what’s on the other end, exactly: is it laughter or chimes?

“Hello?” he says again.

His face changes. You can see him forget the guitar.

“Dylan?” says Alex. “Hi?”