Three. Three was the perfect number. True, they were scattered all over the country. Two she went to. One came to her, but not often. No locals.

Most of the time she was solitary, and that’s the way she liked it. The long days at the library, listening to one needy person after the other, and those were the ones who were supposed to be in charge, looking for the money to do this or that, to buy the good stuff along with enough copies of the stuff everybody checked out, enough computers, enough downloadables. 

The simple meals at home, the glass of wine. Books. Movies The pinky-orange cat that ran to meet her every afternoon, whose squeaky voice embodied the consequences of overindulgence–in her case, dumb cane, as some called dieffenbachia. Friends. Most of all the blessed freedom from involvement, even if she had to trick herself into staying free. 

Three was enough to do it. One for conversation. One for his lovely, gifted hands. One for comfort. All delightful.  All grateful.  All borrowed. LIke library books on reserve, with due dates that arrived before she finished reading. But she knew how to put a hold on, so she usually got a second go.

Three was good for pacing, too. One to keep in the white heat of first discovery, one for the meaty middle, one for the melancholy release of the ending. A little denouement, but no broken heart. She had had her last broken heart.