call me

Late on a Friday night in July, when the oppressive heat and humidity of the day refused to surrender to the dark of night, I abandoned my stifling apartment in search of relief. Expecting deserted streets, I was surprised to find crowds of people out wandering aimlessly, all of them searching for the same thing I was. None of us could find it.

Deciding I’d rather deal with the wrath of Geoff when I showed up unannounced at his air-conditioned house than walk the mile back to my three room oven, I headed towards his house. I found him sitting on his front steps with a cup of coffee next to him and a notebook resting on his lap. He was watching his neighbor pace the sidewalk with a fussy baby and didn’t notice me as I approached.


He snapped his head around to look at me. “Hey,” he said, obviously surprised to see me. “You’re kind of far from home, aren’t you?”

“I am,” I said as I kissed him hello. “It’s hotter than hell in my apartment and I knew you’d be awake. What are you doing out here?”

“I like to see people sometimes,” he replied, shrugging.

I nodded, understanding.

He closed the notebook that was sitting on his lap and stood up. He grabbed my hand and pulled me along behind him as he went into the house. Once inside, he put the notebook down on the table next to the front door. I eyed it suspiciously.

“Please tell me you didn’t bring work home,” I said.


I was surprised. “You keep a journal? Do you say bad stuff about people in it?”

“I say bad stuff about people to people,” he said. “The journal is for other stuff.”

He pulled it from the table and opened it to the page he’d been writing in earlier. He held it up and showed me what he’d written.

I wonder if it’s too late to call Lemony.

He closed the notebook and put it back on the table. I looked up at him and frowned at the sudden sadness in his eyes.“Never wonder that,” I said.

I picked up the phone and heard his voice. “If you were thinking you might want to spend some time…”

I swallowed hard and squeezed three words from my constricted throat. “I’m leaving now.”

“You don’t have to hurry. Just come by tomorrow.”

“I’m leaving now.”

I dropped the phone and ran about my apartment without rhyme or reason; a broken wind-up toy spinning in drunken circles. “The cats…feed the cats…windows…lock the windows…” I raced around frantically, trying to remember everything at once, knowing I wouldn’t.

I grabbed a fistful of quarters and subway tokens from the candy dish on the small red table next to the door. I flung the door open and raced through, pulling it closed behind me. As soon as I heard the latch click I knew I’d forgotten my keys, my coat, my wallet.

“FUCK!” I shrieked as I threw my fistful of quarters and subway tokens against the locked steel door. They scattered across the floor and I sank to my knees, weeping.

I heard a door open somewhere behind me, and a timid voice asked, “Are you okay?”
I didn’t bother to look up. “No.”
I took a deep breath and slipped silently into his room, the profound stillness broken only by the rattle of his breath as he slept. I stood quietly and watched him sleep, wanting to remember him exactly as he was in that moment; peaceful, his face unlined by the pain that consumed him when awake.
When he woke up and saw me watching he smiled and asked, "Why are you all the way over there?" so I crawled under the comforter and settled next to him. I tucked my foot under his ankle, slipped my arm across his waist and tried to ignore how hot his skin felt under mine.
"Did I call you or did I imagine that I did?"
"You called me," I said into his shoulder.
"I called my sister, too, I think."
"As long as you called me first..." I said, teasing.
"I always call you first."
Later, when it was too quiet, I said, “So I met this guy on the train..."
"He's cute?"
"I guess..."
"Will he always call you first?"
"I don't know."
“Is he worthy?”
“I don’t know yet,” I said.
“He’s not.”
“How do you know?”
“He’s not me.”
I closed my eyes to keep the tears in and said, "Thank goodness."
“I’m not scared,” he said.
“I’m terrified,” I replied.
“This guy…from the train…”
“Brian,” I said.
"He won't always call you first."
"Probably not."
“He's not worthy,” he said, and this time the silence after the breath lasted forever.
I leaned down to rest my forehead on his. “Of course he's not, baby. He isn’t you.”


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It breaks my heart just reading about it. I can not imagine living it.

Blogger Jennifer said...

Thinking of you.

Blogger Renée said...

beautiful, as always ♥


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