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Her words ring in my ears hours after our dinner is finished.

I just want to caution you, she says, laying her palm flat on the table. This is important enough to unhand her water class, the stems of which we are both fingering in the spaces of a conversation wading between tense and friendly.

Be careful to guard your heart.

I’m certain not to run round and round with my words, saying only exactly what I mean, and in the least amount of syllables. I want to be heard, understood, if accepted and loved.

What do you mean, not snotty or snide, but honest and seeking. I want her to explain, practically what this churchy verbage is all about.

Well, it sounds like you’re falling in love with him, her voice is gentle, as if to lead me in to something that might shock me, startle me, leave me breathless.

That’s the phrase that keeps ringing and ringing.

She’s just learning now. Am I guilty for how I didn’t help her see sooner, or disappointed for how she didn’t read between the lines of my life? I’ve been waiting dinner after dinner after dinner to make sure she knows this. And so—

Oh Ruth, I sigh, both hands on the table, a symbol of frankness, a pause, I already have. Sure not to say that I already am, because it’s not that I am falling, it’s not happening now, currently, today. She missed that. That was in Bible college, on Chicago streets, sushi bars, dark concert halls, at the zoo, on the train, in the lyrics of his songs. There were months and years that built today. Today, there is only commitment.