All day today, sitting at the desk downstairs at L.B.’s house, I kept seeing fire out of the corner of my eye—that is, brightness waving just over my shoulder: a candle flame. Feeling recently senile and greatly tired from middle-of-the-night dog walks, every time it flickered to the left of me, I wondered how I’d forgotten lighting a candle and putting on the desk.* And then I’d look, and, of course, there was no candle. Instead there was a patch of sunlight on floor, and, in the sunlight, the fluttering shadow of leaves outside the window.
*Years ago I went to interview Francis Ford Coppola, for a story on “Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula,'” at his vineyard in Northern California. Among the things Coppola showed me was the room of his own—a freestanding, one-room building, with windows all around, that was part laboratory (I think he said he was looking for the cure for cancer), part place to write, and part hang out. The thing that made the biggest impression on me from that room, besides the sense of office as clubhouse, was the single candle in a glass jar, sitting on a counter top burning in the middle of the day.