I was at a dinner party and came over all poorly. In fact I thought I might throw up and had to kind of bolt from the room. Must’ve been the Tramadol, an opiate fed to me by my beloved who had acquired it from his father, who suffers from extreme chronic pain. “They’re not really all that strong,” his father said airily. The headache that has been a companion for days now, for almost a week, had sharpened so if I turned my head it brought spasms of nausea. A small disagreement over breakfast had unexpectedly ballooned into a stand-up shouting match in this house where I am a new guest, pain in my belly from the sorrow of it all day. So I succumbed. “Take the other half, too,” he said when the pain did not ebb. Twenty minutes later we were at this party on the other side of the little winding road where the family live scattered in houses like little farms and I started to feel most peculiar. You know that dizzy sweating pressure that comes with acute nausea. Anyway I sat it out and everyone was kind and generous, including the two people who’d yelled at me. What I wanted to say was that the feeling of lying under a soft scarlet blanket on the long sofa in the living room, with a paper Christmas star beaming down on me and a row of red candles in the casement unlit, was so cosy and comforting I felt a whole mess of worries and griefs slowly melt and slide away. The heating was not on in this other room and the chill in the air felt to me healthy and fresh, deeply deeply invigorating. The sounds of communion and chatter from next door were so soothing and a delight. Over the adult voices and faint music I could hear the joyous prinkling of the little girl who was drifting in her seabed of uterine privacy when we were last here, who is thoughtful and nachdenklich, reflective, and has hair the colour of threshed wheat. They brought me a heat pack for my neck, they saved me some dessert. When we came out after our hugs the stars were so clear and so high and the sky had opened itself to the night, the heavens upon us, the peaked white houses standing about like sleeping horses, the night seemed to me sacred and blessed and the row of long needling trees threading the sky along the winding road into the distance led, one could tell, into all good, mysterious things. The white dog made a flickering song of joy along the slick black road as we wound our way home, breathing visibly.