For a few days he convinced himself he had no interest in going down to see her. Even when he was forced to acknowledge that this wasn’t the case, he was able to take refuge in the absolute certainty that he had no intention of actually doing it. Then, as this certainty began to corrode, he took himself more sternly in hand. It was folly to think of seeing Francesca again after all these years, he told himself. Even if by some miracle she’d forgiven him, which he doubted, what could it possibly accomplish? What would he even want it to accomplish? He was content in his marriage, loved being a father, enjoyed the tranquil stability of their home. Why jeopardize this? Why do something so purely and obviously destructive? 

Two weeks passed. He succeeded in putting the subject out of his mind, more or less. Then one morning he saw a notice of an exhibition of transcendentalist manuscripts coming up at the Morgan Library. At college he’d made a study of the transcendentalists and was still strongly drawn to their aura of dynamic innocence. If he could choose his own epitaph, even now it would be the line from Thoreau’s journal, “I wished to ally myself to the powers that rule the universe.”

He mentioned the show to Sara, casually, adding that he wasn’t sure he had the time or energy to go down and see it.

“Of course you should go,” she said without hesitation. “You should definitely go.”

It was exactly what he had expected her to say.