The file that sat between us on the desk seemed to be breathing. I could see the middle swell up and fall back into itself all with a pulsic rhythm. Its breath was making it hard for me to comprehend or even hear that this woman was so pointedly trying to convey. She would motion to the file with almost every sentence. The file whose binding was straining at the number of pages crammed into it. The edges were severely tattered, some were discolored, coffee maybe. There were all sorts of colored stickers on the end flap. Some with numbers, some with letters and one long white file label that offered his full name. I became aware of the fact, for the first time since filling out my marriage certificate, that I didn't know his middle name. Frederick. I sat with that a moment and wondered if that knowledge would ever be useful.
She pointed again at the file. Trying to add weight to her statement. I was doing a good job of seeming unaffected by her inquiries and her over interest. Inside though I was straining to keep it together. With its breathing, her pointing, my memories pounding at the front of my skull begging to be remembered, and the obvious overactive heater in this room it was creating a situation that was threatening to blow through the last of my nerve.
The heater was clicking on and off at a hyper rate. It had formed a stifling heat that hung over the cubicals. That is another thing; when dealing with matters as delicate as the one at hand, these half walls seemed inadequate if not inappropriate. ours was not the only delicate conversation going on. There were others happening on three sides of us. All of their and our words floated up over the half walls and got themselves stuck in that heat. Swirled together and messy. I fell back into myself with a start.
"Brianne? Brianne? Are you listening to me?"
I locked eyes with her, looked towards the door, stood, and left.
Let me live,
Before I die