Gillian took a half-step to the right, indicating a medal on faded ribbon. Harold’s bedroom at his mother’s was exactly as he had left it; a shrine not so much to her son’s childhood as to his idleness in moving it. “Why should I pack it all up for you?” she said. “All the dust that’s in that room? I’d be dead of an asthma attack in minutes.”1
“It’s my bronze award for swimming,” Harold had told her. Compared to all his academic awards, it sounded as close to a confession as she’d ever hear.
1 Harold’s reply that she wasn’t asthmatic was met with stony silence.