It was the snow that startled me because it made the night too placid.
Everything is quieter when it snows.
For instance, the shush that cars make when they fly by on dry ground is always muted under snowflakes.
Snow gives everyone another reason to stay inside—except for me, and the thirty other people who went to the house show on N. College Avenue.
“They call it the banana house,” the beautiful girl said to me from the neighboring couch.
I learned from her that if it were daytime, I would be able to see the house was clearly a faded yellow on the outside; and if this were not a house show, the lights wouldn’t be lit at such a lazy brightness, and I’d recognize the same shade of yellow painted on the walls of the room I was in.
At first, I’d walked right past the house; my excuse was that it was too dark to see the address, but I really found myself too intimidated by the figures chatting and smoking on the porch to walk up to the door and ask if I was at the right place. I only paced back around when I was done reaching my friend’s voicemail for the second time—and after the porch was cleared.
“I’m only here to see Lauren,” I laughed.
“Oh, I think they’re upstairs. I’m not sure we’re allowed up there.”
I tried keeping conversation with her and the folks nearby but I couldn’t connect with them because I was out of place. I was in a room full of people who took extra care to always dress in the most tasteful clothes one could find at any thrift store—high waisted pants, denim jackets, oversized tee-shirts with shimmering designs on them—meanwhile I slumped into my chair wearing my only university sweatshirt, sweatpants that extenuated the unflattering lines of my underwear, and a lightweight Ralph Lauren jacket, which my mother handed down to me from the eighties.
“I like your jacket,” she said.
She stood from her seat and declared to everyone in the room that she was off in search of alcohol. This was a cue for anyone of age in the room to help her out. “Only a few more months till I’m twenty-one,” I heard her say before she left the room.
A couple of people I knew decided to say hello to me; I remained wedged in the cushion of my seat and greeted their standing bodies, hugging their torsos only, because I didn't want them to see my unflattering sweatpants.
I looked at the time and wondered if my staying for thirty minutes was enough for me to leave and tell Lauren that I came and I had just missed them while I was there. But then I started to remind myself why I’d come to the banana house.
A co-worker surprised me. She stood over me smiling, wearing a black and yellow pull-over with her blonde waves secured into a pony tail. I hugged her torso too.
“I didn’t know you'd be here,” she said. “We’ve got to hang out more. We're still cool aren’t we?”
I kissed her once before when I was drunk, and ever since things have been weird between us. I never drink around her anymore.
The conversation between us didn’t last long, because Lauren finally made their appearance. They floated downstairs, said nothing to no one, and stood behind the keyboard in the living room.
My eyes desperately searched them for signs of anguish, but I couldn’t find them: no sagged skin under the eyes, dark and fragile as rose petals; no crusty trails salt water on their cheeks. And no shaking hands. Instead they were unwavering, sending long dissonant chords vibrating through the banana house.
When Lauren stopped playing I met them near the door. They squeezed my hands in theirs before I left; they were soft but steady, and they pulled me into a hug. They smiled at me before I left, and then I was gone.
Snow continued to fall outside.
It was the kind of snow that fell down in feathery, sticky flakes that cleaved to my collarbone because I hadn't zipped up my jacket for my walk back to the car.
The only reason I’d come to the banana house was because I had been so worried about Lauren ever since I read their last status on Facebook:
…every day, nearly all day for the last week or so I haven't stopped thinking about killing myself.**
The feeling is overwhelming.
We need each other in the flesh. I can't do digital anymore.
** …this isn't a cry for help.
I knew that feeling. I knew because I felt it two years ago on a floor of the student health center. I felt it in the hospital. And I felt it again in my bed back at home. And every time I couldn’t feel myself in any of those places; I lost control of my body and my fingers folded like paper cranes. And I knew that although Lauren held me firmly, their hands could twist and tremble just as horribly as mine. I just wanted to hold them.
Amber Taylor is a senior at Miami University studying creative writing and literature. They've had a few poems published in Lipstick Party Magazine and their most recent publication has been in Rogue Agent Journal.