In every room of her house — and it was a big house, she didn’t do things by half — there was a little skull, carved sometimes into the moulding or peeping out from the andirons in the fireplace, hidden among the rococo fretting of the chandelier, one detail among hundreds in the murals that covered the walls.

“It’s morbid,” said Allen, when he came to visit her. “Why would you want something like that? Once I could understand, okay, be decadent, but in every room?”

“There’s a latin word for it,” Basia said. “But it’s positively medieval. They’re my memento mori, my little reminder that this, too, shall pass.”

“Morbid,” he said. “Anyway, it’s a nice house. Let’s go, we’re going to be late.”

She wore the long coat to the party, a fake mink softer than real fur, thousands of constructed fibers dyed in the instant of their formation. It caused a ruckus, but then, that was the point.