THE STORY: A Man enters a small boutique, hoping to find a suitable gift for his young mistress, who is facing a grave operation. Unaccountably he quickly finds himself confiding in the Proprietress, speaking without hesitation of the pain he feels at having his telephone calls to his loved one unreturned, of his fear that her condition may be fatal. The Proprietress consoles him, suggesting that perhaps she wants to spare him, that she needs to face her ordeal alone and without added burden that his involvement would impose. As they speak specters of other deep-seated concerns arise: the difference in age between the Man and his mistress; his unfulfilling marriage; the emptiness of material success without love to enrich it; the void that might have been filled had there been the possibility of children; the frustration of being unable to make a true and total commitment to another person. It is almost as though the Proprietress might be-or has become-the absent mistress. As the play ends the Man and the Proprietress embrace, two strangers grateful for the small miracle which, if only for a brief moment, has let them share closeness always hoped for but seldom achieved.Arthur Miller is the author of 'Elegy For a Lady.' with ISBN 9780822203568 and ISBN 0822203561.