When David awakes, he finds himself in an apartment with Meg, her ex-boyfriend Marcos, and her room mate Sam. They give him new socks, food to eat, and a place to stay. He promises to pay them back, and promises Meg to never say he loves her unless she says it first. Meg realizes early on how important his promises are and says he’ll find a way to repay them.
Meg has a way of seeing into people and recognizing their faults and the good in them. She does this with helping homeless people, and seeing that David is not a bad, but flawed person. Her nature is the exact opposite of David. Where he is stuck to his ethics and promises, she is carefree, enjoying life as it is given to her.
On their adventures, they stop by a gallery that is going out of business run by a Mr. D. He sold one of David’s pieces and pays him $900 in cash. We also learn that a Russian man has been around looking for David. This puts David on edge imagining his landlord looking for the twenty thousand owed.
They also run into Ollie who is glad to see his friend after the fight they had. He informs David that Roger is holding a sort of competition to see whole fills the last slot at a showing. Ollie is in charge of the decision, and among the competitors are Finn and a single mother, Mira Bhatti. David has three weeks to come up with something.
For how lonely David felt earlier in the book, it is apparent that he has many more people who care about him that he ever realized. There is Ms. Hammer, Mr. D. Ollie, and now Meg.
They meet up with Mikey who is pretty blunt around David, asking him if he has fallen for Meg yet. He informs David that everyone who comes across Meg does. David’s expression goes from surprise to slight guilt, and finally to suspicion as he lies to Mikey saying that he has not.
As the days pass, David begins a journal to say everything he wants to Meg that he can’t to her face. Part of the rules of the deal prevents him from telling anyone about his abilities. The penalty is losing three days on his already short 200-day counter. David recounts of the qualities that he loves about Meg. Her carelessness but guts, her outgoing nature, and willingness to try just about anything. For all her seeming perfection, one of her few flaws is her fear of auditioning for acting parts. She is so willing to help others, to make their life better that she rarely thinks of her own self-worth. Throughout this, David has to love her from afar and always tell himself that, for a multitude of reasons, she will never love him in return.
David, Ollie, and Meg visit Mira Bhatti to look at her miniature interiors. She talks about putting things in her scenes that no one can see, so only she knows it is there. It is a stark contrast to David who wants all of what he has done to be seen, to be recognized. They discuss how popular art is seen by everyone, but it is not always objectively good art. And who decides if it is good or bad art? David questions whether art is like fashion, if there are any absolutes. Mira points to herself and says “Sure! In here.” Ollie follows up with, “Just not out there.”
On another outing to the museum to collect inspiration, David is frustrated with his inability to create lasting art that has meaning. Meg gives him the insight that he is thinking too much. He needs to stop trying to cover everything, but go pick something and go deep into it to find the meaning.
As Meg tells a story about how her sister and she would always visit a particular statue first, David recalls a conversation with his father. He tells David that “We’re all connected.” David is connected to Meg through their friendship, and he connected to her sister through meg, and down through her ancestry.
For payment Meg requested, David had to do a sculptor of her. In this moment of touching her face and neck, Meg feels slightly objectified, not in a sexual way, but as a literal object. To her, it feels cold. For him, he sees the atomic gap between his skin and hers. How he would enjoy the feeling, but knows the illusion of their connection.
Through the days of Hanukkah, David further connects with all sorts of people coming over each night. Meg talks about how even if she had a choice between visiting her family or spending time with friends, she would choose friends. Her connection is deeper with these people. To her, they are her family.
On the seventh night, David and Meg have a conversation on the roof about the process of art. She read that sculpting removes everything that isn’t there. Meg would prefer that David add to her sculptures. In the first school of thought, if everything is removed, there is nothing left to add, to grow, and expand as a person. As if chipping away the unneeded parts, Meg broke up with Mikey, and now she looks to add more, to add David.
Even after keeping his promise to never tell Meg he loves her until she says it first, David still hesitates when she professes that she is falling in love with him. The thoughts of it never going to happen and the prospect of dying in a couple months run through his mind. Yet it is her words from before that he thinks too much that prompts him to kiss her.
When they almost fall off the edge of the building, David is too caught up in the fact that he almost died. Yet she holds his hand to his chest and says “feel that pounding… you’re alive.”
With one promise gone, another returns as Meg asks David to never let her push him away. She makes him promise, knowing full well how much a promise means to him. And with one new relationship grown, another ends when David finds out Ollie gave Finn the last spot in the show. Although David has grown to recognize when other people’s work is better, particularly Mira’s, his principles and ethics is the last thing that breaks the long friendship with Ollie.
During this, they talk about art as being subjective. Yet David has to believe that there are absolutes. This unmovable state that even if no one can see or agree, it is still true. David’s principles could be seen as opinions, and it is this unmovable block that kills relationships with people who do not adhere to it.
For the first six weeks, David had a plan. But nothing since has gone to plan. When he thought he had plenty of time to finish what needed to be done has not been the case. The lack of time begins to stress him and his relationship. When Meg falls into a depression, David feels it is his fault. Something he had done must have triggered it. In all of his worrying, and her friends giving him an out of the relationship, he reminds himself of the promise given to her. He would not let her push him away.