rounding the corner, my footsteps carry me hastily down the same corridor you’re bursting into— or out to— and you stop, step back, face and body bear left. how many feet between us? 40, 20, 10— together marching past a dozen doors— 5 and we’re beside each other (and I’m beside myself in fear and indecision about how this’ll play out). thank God you have a destination in mind, I think in mine, ‘cause I can’t decide, when I’m fixated on one thing. beyond your doors you disappear to prepare for the Syracuse snow you ask might be too much for me, and I hang out on the white wall and wait, shaking and uncertain, like an autumn tree’s last leaf. I hear people I know leave their labs, and I wonder if they wonder, what I’m doing here. a swapped hat and two layers warmer, you venture outside to journey with me across the street and unplowed quadrangle, as the accumulation continues on and around us. not too many people to dodge for they are in their classes, or even wiser, in their homes, on this sad, miserable day. 200 meters from our chemistry world and directly adjacent to this old chapel, you swing open—Thank you—the door. after a shuffle and a swiping of soles, we descend a staircase to a coffee shop that you didn’t know sold food, too, and once you’ve got your caffeine fix— cheap and black— I wonder if you’ll make a connection to my You-want-something’s declination, when I’ve said it all, and we’re done. now, to your question: Sort of, they’ve got some place to sit— they call it the Noble Room— and I’m sorry, but Yup, this one, so you brush the crumbs aside, and we take the table and a pair of chairs. removing my hat and mittens and unbuttoning my coat doesn’t buy me enough time to figure out where to start my confession of an obsession bordering disease: a line I haven’t crossed. you don’t know why I’m so out of sorts, why I go through the hallways looking so down, but this is why we’re here: two feet apart, taking time from our lives, in a place quiet enough for us to talk. (there’s a hell in my head I can’t escape. my voice of reason I recognize, and it’s fighting a good one, against a voice I don’t think is mine. always a commotion, a hysteria— my mind feels so crowded and clouded like it’s a crap place to be— and I, on the outside, can’t do anything, but side with the stranger. except now, ‘cause I’m with you, against her wishes.) it’s time. I’m too scared to know what you’re seeing, so my hands are suddenly interesting, and I lean heavily on this square surface, staring at my fidgeting fingers, as I let my trembling words spill out and hit my ears and yours. we talk, and I wonder if the others can hear me as I share solemn secrets and silences for an hour with you, in a basement on a Friday afternoon.