Set me free.

Leave me be.

I don’t want to fall another moment into your gravity.

-Sara Bareilles

On nights when I am alone, I sing in my kitchen because it is there that the acoustics are best. And though my voice will never fill stadiums or front bands, though it is a voice best for backgrounds or for reciting the words of poetry, it is enough that my son still likes it, that a man had once sung with me in a car we drove in for miles upon miles.

Tonight, I sing quietly while my son sleeps upstairs, think too of the night when, singing in this kitchen, I played “Gravity” on repeat before a man came to my door, letting the last of the notes fade out before answering the bell, already mourning him. Though he was not yet gone, he would be. That day, he texts me four times; I’ve had a medical procedure, and though it is small and inconsequential, he’s worried.

Set me free.

He brings me an almond milk latte and in the burgeoning darkness swaps out light fixtures in my kitchen. In the dim glow of the lamp we’ve pulled over from the living room, we stand on stepstools bare inches from one another, my face at his chest. I hold my arms overhead, lifting the light while he attaches the wires. I’m letting him do this work not because I couldn’t have hired someone but because it means something to him to do so. He wants to be needed, and though this is not what I need, it is all he can give me. I want him to be happy, so I give him what he needs. I drink the latte, drink up too, his laughter, listen to him talk about his girlfriend and work and all the other inconsequential things.

Leave me be.

I will already be spending the whole weekend with him and I’m not sure why he’s here, the night before, too. I think he should be spending it with his girlfriend, but instead he’s here, the first of four days in a row that we will see each other. I think there is something cruel in this, both for her and for me, but I know him well enough to know this thought never occurs to him.

Set me free.

Leave me be.

He stays later than he needs to; he thinks I’m funny, one of the funniest people he knows, he says, keeps laughing at things I say. I think he’s heartbreaking, mine of course, maybe hers. When at last the wires are attached and the lights glow, they are brighter than I imagined they would be. A spell of some kind, perhaps, now broken.

When he leaves, I lock the door, turn the new lights off, their fading hum a kind of note held too long. Held too long, echoing in the kitchen, reverberating in my chest.

I don’t want to fall another moment

Held too long.

Into your 

Held too long.


I held him too long.

I don’t want to fall another moment.

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