‘The Mysteries of Ubiquitin’ by Andrea Barrett

Rose is eight years old when she first meets, Peter, an entomologist in his late 20s. Her parents laugh at her passionate crush on their dashing and charismatic contemporary, but Rose is furious that she’s not taken seriously. More than two decades later, Rose runs into Peter in an airport. She is a celebrated biochemist, he is less accomplished, and the connection they feel to one another is intense and reverberates – it is rooted in their shared history as well as a contemporary attraction. It is easy for them to begin a relationship, but Rose begins to see what their age different means as time goes on. “When she returned to Boston Peter had bronchitis and emerged from the shower hacking and coughing, each cough making the loose flesh around his nipples shimmy,” we’re told. Their parting – just like their coming together – is complex, bound up with other memories and other griefs that (like ubiquitin) are ubiquitous.

From Servants of the Map (W. W. Norton & Company). You can find Andrea Barret’s website here