Lynn borrowed my truck when she moved away from Palo Alto, away from her husband and kids. She didn't come into the house, just stood outside waiting for me to give her the keys. Her arms were folded across her chest. She was shivering.

She had moved the driver's seat back and adjusted the mirror before she noticed.

"You still have these?" Lynn held up a horse chestnut as wrinkled as a raisin. You could tell she had a sore throat.

"Yeah. I thought they were nice so I kept them." I gathered the relics in both hands and took them into the house.

"Don't touch your car keys for 30 minutes," Lynn said later when she came back with the truck. She dropped the key ring on my table. "I've got a cold, and it takes 30 minutes for the germs to deactivate."

The horse chestnuts are in a clear plastic box on my desk. They haven't collapsed too much more than they had when I retrieved them from the truck and brought them into the house.


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