Prelude to a Phone Call
by Darby Larson
I stand under clouds and watch her second floor window. Her TV glows behind closed curtains. She's waiting for me to call, but my cell phone is too heavy. It's like a hunk of lead. It's like a big grappling hook that just needs to be thrown to her window, and I have no strength. No energy. She's not waiting anyway. She's just watching TV. I'll call just to hear her voice. Maybe she doesn't want me to call. She's still upset. Or maybe not. At least I'll know.
My hair is messy. It's in all directions. It sticks out like a visor and up like a hedgehog. It's going to rain soon. So who cares anyway.
Brown leaves stain the parking lot. Five Fords sit next to each other, as if this were a dealership. I lean against one of them. Somewhere, a car surfs a wave of speed bumps. Asphalt cracks are fat with moisture.
Below her window, I think about the inside of her apartment. Maybe she's just casual today. Her hair in a scrunchy, except for two strands that hang down the sides of her face like fangs. She's playing video games in sweat pants. Handfuls at a time, she takes popcorn from Tuperware. An empty phone hangs on the wall next to numbers on tacked paper. Every so often, she looks at the phone, nonchalant, like she doesn't want anyone to know what she's thinking, even though she's alone.
Or maybe she's writing in a diary. Words like 'not any more...' and 'someday soon I'll...' and 'just once...'. Some tears try to fall, but she blocks them by looking at the ceiling.
The light behind her curtain teases me. It flickers in Morse Code. It's saying, 'please call me' and 'go away' and 'comb your hair' and 'if you say the right words, I might love you' and 'I'll always hate you'.
In another universe, the sun sets like a sparkling yellow pearl. But not here. Here, the sun sets behind curtains.
There is a weight pulling me down to the curb. I feel I might collapse. I have no strength. No energy. I sit on the curb, under the shade of a cloudy sky, under the shade of a leafless tree, under the shade of my stupid hair.
My cell phone stretches my denim pocket. I look out at the ocean of cars that I'm anchored among. I'm not going anywhere. Her window flashes like fiction. I feel rain on the back of my hand. My phone falls through my fingers and splashes the asphalt.
It's pouring. My hair is flat with water, dripping down my neck. I sit still and pretend I'm swimming.
I pick up my phone and stand up. I look up at her glowing window with rain on my eyelids. I clench the rope. I whirl the grappling hook around and around.
About the author:
Darby Larson has had literature published on the web at McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Insolent Rudder, Hobart, Eclectica, and Lamination Colony, among others. He tinkers with this.