Brian's attempt to woo Jane in chapter 15

The visit to the hospital had shaken Jane. Brian had offered to go with her, but the last thing she needed was a lecture from her sick mother on how distracting guys were to her studies. Seeing her mother so vulnerable and her father so lost without her had been strange. Their emotional wall was so perfectly formed that it had never occurred to her that her parents might be deeply connected. Her dad was in pieces mentally, and her mum physically. They’d always seemed superhuman, like their intellect could defeat anything. She’d spent so many years trying to be what she thought they were, but seeing them bought home how little she knew them. She had become obsessed with intellect for the sake of intellect. But seeing her frail, frightened, mum made her feel helpless. All the knowledge she had, and she didn’t know how to help her mum. Maybe instead of trying any means to become cleverer, she should put her brainpower to some use in the world.

She was thinking this as she climbed the steps to the basement door, the taste of formaldehyde fresh on her lips. Was this what she became when she spent too much time alone? She locked the door. It felt like it might be for the last time.

It had been a long day. Her legs took her to Brian’s apartment. She went in, but was too exhausted for a deep conversation. ‘Talk stats,’ she said, and relaxed into the sofa as he recited what he’d recently read on repeated-measures designs.