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In summer it's sandals and in winter it's boots. When the sun's out he treads lightly and I lean back to look: there are only a couple inches of space between his desk and mine, and I can see his notes. Scratchy. He is the type to write down every word every professor says, and his hand is quick. The ink is black and the kind to soak up both sides of the paper, so he has to waste half his notebook (it is graphed and not ruled; I find this enormously sexy). He might be very attentive or very, very sleepy. He scratches his head with the roller ball.I can't drink coffee in this weather anymore but he does, and I am trying to breathe it.

Sometimes, it's not sandals but flip-flops and I pretend the song he has written is for me, but it is not and I am not hearing the words anymore anyway, just allowing the sound to fill me like a glass of water.

It's wet outside, and most of us are very frightened. I did not ask to be a peer to clouds and mountains, who were foolish to climb so high in the first place. I pretend it's OK because he says it's OK. We ascend and read magazines together, which disarm me cuz I'm making sweaty thumbprints on every page and on his copy of Notes From Underground, and sometimes they disarm me themselves; I ask him what is wrong with Jann Wenner, so much column inches to such a nobody, not that I want to give more inches to the story of the man who panicked and flew and panicked and flew and was murdered. My voice is very weak. His hands are very strong. The wind is shaking the plane. The heart cracks and he takes it up easy like he's petting a hamster. And after this mostly it is nodding, nodding until we land.

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