In the twenty seven years since Hans and Dee last had the place to themselves they’d established a very practical partnership. It had seemed a solid enough arrangement. But now it seemed souless, which troubled them both. They’d been inseparable in their early years, devoted as newlyweds and then again as young parents, though parenthood had brought necessary alterations to routines. But had it brought all this? The hours with barely a word between them. The differences of opinion left suspended. The passionless exchanges.

Jean, their eldest, suggested marriage guidance. They went to please her, squirmed uncomfortably through the hour-long session then laughed, at the expense of the young counsellor, all the way home. It was the closest they’d been to their old relaxed selves for months.

The next afternoon Dee arrived home with the ingredients for dumplings. They hadn’t made them since Jean was a baby. But they remembered the ritual. They divided the task as they had in the old days—she on the filling and he on the dough. Then they reunited around the bamboo steamer. They celebrated the success of each batch with a kiss and let the years wind back.

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