The Only Way We Can Talk to Each Other


Twice, I walk into the bathroom and pretend not to see the pale roses in the sink, but when you follow me into the shower, name-dropping people I don't know, I have to acknowledge the gift.
      "There are flowers in the sink!"  I try to sound surprised.
      I step into the tub, still wearing heels, and begin snapping hooks on the shower curtain.  It takes effort to look you in the eye as I say thank you, because you're waiting too hard, practically wringing your hands.  I'm angry.  It angers me that you would let that desperation show, that you would allow yourself to swell or shatter based on my reaction to stale white flowers. 
      "Those lightbulbs are really hot," I say.  "Can you feel that?"
      You take my hands, and I squeeze the plastic rings I'm holding so I won't have to open my fingers.
      "The roses called your name," you say, "and I know you don't like roses, but they were so open and white."
      The analogy doesn't make sense to you either; I can see you wish the words back into your mouth.  Your eyes well up, quick as a baby's, and I can feel the anger rising.  I try breathing, imagining the air pushing the words back into my stomach before they spill out like acid. 
      You say that you're scared and let your head hang, leaning toward me as if you think I'll embrace you now.  "I just don't want to have my heart broken."
      Where is your dignity?
      "No one does," I say, since I have to say something I believe.  
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