Illustration to accompany Raymond Carver's short story, "Distance."

And will we always love each other? The girl asked, enormously enjoying the conversation he could tell.

Always, the boy said. And we'll always be together. We're like the Canadian geese, he said, taking the first comparison that came to mind, for they were often on his mind in those days. They only mate once. They choose a mate early in life, and they stay together always. If one of them dies or something, the other one will live by itself, or even continue to live with the flock, but it will stay single and alone amongst all the other geese.

That's sad, the girl said. It's sadder for it to live that way, I think, alone but with the others, than just to live off by itself somewhere.

It is sad, the boy said. But it's nature.