Michael gave me independence.

Early 20s, jeans and rugby shirts type. Spanish-American, tall and skinny, black hair and dark eyes. Had a way of looking upwards at people that reminded me of Lauren Bacall – chin down, eyes looking up from under his bangs.

For two years I sleep in his waterbed, listening through the walls as his roommates bring home faceless women from the downtown bars. I meet his mother and know why he hates his father and how it tears him up to sever those ties. He holds me when I learn I've been asked to "take a break" from college, and pushes me to scrimp and save to return. He teaches me baseball and hockey, and to recite from memory the home stadiums of every National League team. I balance his checkbook and worry over his debts. On the nights I spend alone, I sleep with the telephone near my head, in case he calls for me in the early morning hours.

In the end, I quietly leave the warmth of his bed late one January night and gather my things from the second-hand dresser. He needs me too much.

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