As the days wore on, and once I had managed to exchange the first few words with him, we grew almost companionable.
Every morning I'd go downstairs to make coffee and say hi. He'd generally have been awake a while longer than me, as the hot water pipes are loud in the basement. Conversation was sometimes stilted. We knew nothing about each other. So, as is often the way with relative strangers, we talked about culture. And what was more appropriate than the books I had given him myself?

"...but the German word is actually more correctly translated as 'vermin', not as 'beetle'. If you read the story with 'vermin' instead, it puts a whole different light on it. It explains things that didn't quite follow on..."

We worked through whole bookshelves together. I loved how he thought, the way he pointed things out to me, unsure and knowledgable at the same time. The way he spoke made me want to like what he liked, read what he had read. It made me love him more.

Once, in the middle of the night, I felt guilty for keeping him all this time. Maybe there were people in the outside world to miss him, people he had never mentioned? But I knew I could never let him out. It was better this way. Much safer this way.

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