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Gabrielle turned back towards her husband shaking her head. “Well that sounded lovely,” Adriel said to his wife. “I take it Mariam was her usual bundle of optimism?”

“You know Mom. Always upbeat,” she responded, putting her phone away. “Apparently it’s stupid for us to have a life or take trips or, well, have fun? Anyway, she knows we’re going to Philadelphia on Friday.”

“Cool. Maybe when we get back we’ll have great news about your Stargardt’s. Something optimistic for her for a change.”

“I swear that woman hasn’t been optimistic since Billy’s death.”

“Life’s been hard for her.”

Gabrielle turned toward her husband, cocked her head to the side and burst out laughing. “Coming from you that is one hell of a dispensation!”

“We’ve all got our crosses to bear,” he said with a sick smile.

“Yeah, ain’t that the truth. And it certainly helps to have a partner in crime, eh, Professor X?”

“Especially ones with mutant powers, my little Arachne. Unfortunate that I can’t use my psionic powers to make us all better.”

“Better be careful, sounds like you want to play God. And you know what they say: ‘With awesome power’?”

“‘Comes awesome responsibility.’ Too bad awesome responsibility doesn’t always come with awesome power, huh?”

“Yeah. What’s up with that? I thought ‘if A equals B then B equals A’? Transitive property, right?”

“Close; that’s the A, B, C thing. Commutative is the A, B.”

“You sure?”

“Want me to Google it for you?”

“Ha! Nope. I’ll take your word for it! I’m going to call Jenn and tell her our commutative, dispensational, optimistic news.”

“Amen? As Ramses would say, ‘So it shall be written; so it shall be done.’”

“I ain’t writing. I’m calling Jenn. At least she’ll be upbeat.”

“And cautiously optimistic. Just as we need to be.”

“Yes, my love. Let me call her, okay?” she asked, retrieving her phone from her pocket.

“Say hi to her for me. Ask her if she wants to come over some time.”

“Will do. Hang on, it’s ringing,” she added, holding up her finger. After a pause she shook her head quickly four times and said, “Hey, girl, it’s Gabrielle. I have what I hope is big news! Call me when you’ve got a sec.”