I waited for him to sit down next to the cage before I hit enter. His face was droopy. His breathing steadied. He uncoiled his shirttail and smoothed it out over his belly. He picked up the recorder next to his hand and pushed a button. He sucked in his gut when he caught me looking. He called me Gonzo like he did when I did something stupid. I hit enter again.
The lights inside the cage in front of his face came on. I counted the freckles under his eyes and over his nose. When the catnip plant inside caught fire, he curved his lips. I hit enter again. He sighed. I said I was sorry. He said he knew. We can figure it out, I said. He said we would.
After he left the room, I picked up the recorder, still warm from his hand. I took it with me when I looked over the computer in the corner. I listened to our voices. His voice was always higher after I spoke than it was when he spoke alone. He used bigger words and said longer sentences than I did. Spectrum. Intensity. Fluorescent. I burned two bonsais, three figs, and a Pothos while listening to him recite the configurations of the switches that controlled the wattage.
When the doorknob turned, I ran away from the computer. He looked at the recorder I held at my side. He called me Gonzo and looked away quickly. He sighed and made faces at the smell of burnt chlorophyll as I walked the recorder back over to his table. My sweaty palm dried quickly. He told me he didn’t know what to say. I said he didn’t have to say anything.