Emma introduced us, but fate made us exchange phone numbers. Although I liked you and felt drawn to you—tenderness accompanied my memories of you—I did not expect to hear from you soon. When my phone rang at 10:33 p.m. and I saw your name, warmth tickled my face into a smile. To my “hello,” you responded with sobs and to “what is it?” with, “I’m leaving him.”
I knew who him was.
Two weeks prior to your call, you and I chatted that evening, as we stood near the balcony sliding doors. Bunched-up voile curtains escaped their brass holders, lilting whenever the breeze beckoned. Behind us, opinions on politics and football clamoured for superiority. If I had to pick a winner, it would have been the music, a persistent fusion of hip-hop and jazz. Fear of losing our voices propelled us outside.
It was as if we knew time was short. We dispensed with pleasantries and raced to your heart. The story you told had many holes and so I averted my eyes so you would not need to avoid mine. Did you know that I had once been fragile too?
When him came to check on you, you replaced your shadow with sunshine. You introduced us, listing my credentials first, and I saw what his approval meant to you. Him was impressed, just as you had hoped, and then he whisked you away to the music we feared.
I knew who him was.
That day, your sobs unleashed mine. But, I put ice in my voice and said sensible things like, are you alone? What about the kids? Don’t make decisions while emotions are high. Should I come over? I had my hair in huge rollers under a net and two white spots on my face marked my struggle with acne.
You did not want me to come over. Instead, we sampled the height, depth, and breadth of your anxieties until 1 a.m., when exhausted from reasoning, you let me go. But not before agreeing to check in later in the day.
I did not sleep. I turned your problems over in my mind. I prayed. All day long, I waited. I debated whether to reach out. I sent a couple of texts. I called. You didn’t respond. Later never came, not that day or the next or the next month.
I am watching you and him in the supermarket. He leans so you can whisper in his ear. His eyes light up and you both laugh at your secret. I choose this moment to bump into you and him, and I wear my surprise well. The three of us make small talk but you overcompensate for lull with details. Your voice is on display, bouncing off the shelves and rolling down the aisle. When him leaves us girls to catch up, awkwardness settles over us and silences you.
“How are you?” I ask.
“Everything is fine, very fine, and you?”
I believe you because you radiate sunshine. I wait for your explanation so I can stop editing your manuscript in my head, no in my heart. I have been reading it since that night. Question marks and ellipsis muddle its chapters.
Him bursts in and whisks you to even greater sunshine and I am left with the music I fear, strains of bewildered happiness.
Perhaps I was to escort you around your shadow and no further. Did I assume a role that wasn’t mine? Was shame the unintended consequence of our sudden intimacy? Or did you need to find your way yourself? No matter, every book deserves an ending, and you cheated me of my slice of the sun.
I should not have left things unsaid.
©Timi Yeseibo 2015
Photo credit: longleanna/ http://pixabay.com/en/talking-phone-mobile-telephone-560318/
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.