I wake up at exactly 2:36am every night or morning. My heart is always racing and I don’t know why. But then I remember about Gemini. Gemini’s a German Shepherd. He comes to the foot of my bed every night or morning. I don’t know where he comes from. He’s not my dog and I’ve never seen him anywhere else. One time I waited until it got completely dark outside. Around 8pm I turned off all the lights to mimic the condition of my apartment in the middle of the night. I looked around for places where a large German Shepherd might be able to enter. I felt along the walls and floorboards and so on. But no. I did note several cracks large enough for outside light to enter. The little crack under the door, for example. But that’s way too small for any dog, especially a large German Shepherd. Still, later that night or morning I woke up at exactly 2:36am. And sitting at the foot of my bed was Gemini. We sat looking at each other for a while. We always start this way. I don’t know how visible I am to him in the darkness. (Do dogs have some kind of night vision? I’m not sure.) But via a vague light creeping in through the window near the foot of my bed, I can always see Gemini, his distinct silhouette and markings, his distant eyes, his rhythmic breaths rolling off his outstretched tongue, the strange sum of it all obscurely lit by the green glow of the pharmacy sign below us. Then the questions come. Always subtle but always meant to hurt. One time Gemini said, “So, I’ve noticed that whenever you go to visit your grandma, you lean in and say, ‘Hi, Grandma,’ but you never kiss her on the cheek? What’s that all about? At most, you just touch your cheek to her cheek. Or you put your cheek near her mouth, as though she’s the one leaning in to kiss you, which we both know is not the case. She can barely see you or register your presence. But still she does register your presence. And she needs it. She needs your love. You need to imagine that she exists in a sort of infrared world, where there is either the red of people’s love or there is nothing. You need to imagine it and then you need to understand it to be true. So where is your love? Where are you? Everyone else kisses her on the cheek. But you? No.” This might seem innocuous enough. But trust me. It hurts. When it doesn’t hurt then and there it hurts later. But usually it hurts then and there and then it hurts more later. Try telling Gemini you don’t kiss your grandma on the cheek because physical contact makes you uncomfortable. Tell him displays of affection come as naturally to you as speaking Mandarin, and so, sorry Grandma? and see how the rest of that conversation goes. See if he lets you off the hook, curls up at your feet, maybe gets distracted and starts licking himself until he falls asleep. Because yeah right. Another time Gemini said, “So, you get pretty defensive when your mom asks what you’ve been doing for fun, huh? Any thoughts about why that might be?” The next night or morning he asked, “So, you were pretty rude to that waitress earlier, don’t you think?” An hour later he asked how it could possibly be so easy for me to leave my friends behind. He asked what our friendships could have meant to me if walking away from them came so easily, and in some cases even brought me pleasure. Two days later I was still searching for the holes in his logic, still trying to find the sequence of thoughts that would lead me to definitively conclude, He’s wrong. He doesn’t know. Then one night or morning he was a bit out of sorts and said something almost merciful. I’d woken up at the usual time. But he wasn’t in his usual spot. He was sitting by the window, looking out at the night or morning. Without ever turning my way, he said, “So, I assume you’re aware by now that, if it weren’t for me, you’d spend every night here alone, wide awake and staring at that spot on the wall, longing to have someone else around, pretending not to be longing for this.” After he said this he turned and walked away. I stared blankly ahead at the spot on the wall that looks kind of like Lincoln with sunglasses and a fedora. I listened to Gemini’s steps getting quieter and quieter until they finally stopped and he was gone. The next night or morning things were back to normal. Gemini went back to saying things meant to hurt. The difference now is I let them hurt. I don’t fight them. I just notice them. I make little adjustments in my days. I kiss my grandma on the cheek. I call my parents at least once a week. I try as hard as I can to be kind and loving to people. When I’m sad or tired or angry, I try harder. It doesn’t always work. But I try. I ask people how they’re doing. I listen to their answers. If I see that they light up when talking about something, I ask them to tell me more about it. Sometimes I’ll put my hand on someone’s shoulder to console them, or just to express that I am also people, and that, here we are, a couple of people, breathing the air and doing this thing together. I’d almost forgotten how powerful touch could be. If I like someone’s dress I’ll say, I like your dress. If I like their laugh I’ll try to make them laugh. I hug my friends when I say hello and goodbye. I give gifts to my niece for no reason. I treat waiters and waitresses like gold. And now, every night before I go to sleep, I fix bowls of food and water and put them next to the blanket that I keep at the foot of my bed.