In less than a week Emma will have no place to live. Her thoughts keep turning to the one-bedroom walk-up she shared with Paul. Dirty dishes stacked so high in the sink they bought paper plates. Late-afternoon sunlight skimmed the keys of their old upright piano, her Broadway sheet music and his Beatles and Motown songbooks piled together on top. After years of her own ambivalence and Paul tearfully confessing that he no longer loved her “that way,” she moved her stuff into storage and slept on the couch of a friend whose generosity quickly faded into irritation. So Emma started house-sitting.

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