By Annette Gulati

I dial her number, take a deep breath, shield my heart. When she picks up the phone, I ask questions she never asks back. How are you? How do you feel? Is everything okay? 

She opens fire. Got an extra chicken leg from KFC. Harold fixed the window blind. The surgery is next month. Her words slide off my back easily. My counterattack is equally harmless. I shoot back—nice, great, oh. 

The onslaught continues for thirteen more minutes, then we hang up. That’s when her unspoken words creep in, slicing, mincing as they go. I retreat, my invisibility intact. 


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Annette Gulati is an essayist and freelance writer living in Seattle, WA. Her creative work has been published or is pending in Five Minutes, Nunum, The Oregonian, Sasee, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and elsewhere. She’s also the author of twelve children’s books. 

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