It makes sense that it should happen this way
That my heart would break and my hands should shake
As if to say everything matters in such invisible ways
As if to say fly away
Sweet bird of prey
Fly fly away
I won't stand in your way
Sweet bird
If you knew the words
I'd know that you'd say
Fly away Poe

"It's just hard for me to accept that while I can articulate all the ways you affect me, you can't say one thing about the ways I affect you." I stare at my bare feet on the kitchen floor, pacing around on the cordless. The overhead light is yellow, its globe sticky with nicotine from endless nights there, playing cards, drinking with friends. The kitchen was the one room of all the communal rooms in the house that had a door (albiet a swinging one, as most kitchens with doors are) so that you could block out your conversation from the rest of the house. It was where we would take unruly guests who had had too much to drink and were annoying everyone else, or where we went to play cards or chess so as not to annoy any of the 4 roommates we'd gone through during those two years who rented the room at the front of the house. The kitchen's back door led right to the back yard, where that night, fireflies were dancing around the lilac bushes.

Silence on the other end of the line. A sigh. He does NOT want to be having this conversation, but I can't help it. Thinking back to Poe's song, I try to help him find the words I need to hear.

"Would you say that I affect you in invisible ways?" James, the current roommate at this time, knows better than to even venture in the kitchen when I'm on the phone with him. James is 36, epileptic, a recovering crack addict who was going to Lynchburg College, where I would soon graduate, to get a degree in Chemistry. More than once I'd find him passed out on the couch and accidentilly step into a puddle of his vomit, or witnessed a minor seizure. All I could do was move things away from wherever he had one, and let him sleep it off.

"Invisible ways? Sure. You could say that. That sounds about right."

I nodded to the phone, nodded to myself. That's what I thought.

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