Sometimes I call knowing that you have call display and that you’ll never pick up, just so I can hear your voice on the outgoing message. The times when I call a few times in a row and it forces you to turn your phone off are my favourite. Because then it starts going straight to voicemail and I can call as many times as I want after that and you’ll never know if it was just once more or a thousand more. I know I could just record your outgoing message and listen to it whenever I feel like it, but that would take away the thrill that maybe, just maybe, this time you’ll actually answer.
I was in a fuck buddy agreement that always had an end. It was nice. Maybe a bit of the girlfriend/boyfriend experience involved, but it always had an end date because someone will invariably catch the feels. And when it ended, the next day was as if we never shared anything together. It hurt. I plead to remain friends. He remains cold. During that argument I saw a side of him that was so callous, it couldn’t possibly be the same guy that was intimate with me the day before.
Then he says your name.
I get defensive. I was already in so much pain, why bring up another man who has crushed me. He told me to call you. I lie and say I don’t have your number anymore.
“I have it.”
But how? You guys had never met. Turns out when he borrowed my phone the other day because his was dead, he saw I had seventeen outgoing calls to a number saved as “Him.” He thought I was cheating so he called you himself. Did you have a full-blown conversation? Or was it just an awkward chess game of trying to figure out who each other was and why you’re both on the phone with each other? He told me he hung up after you said your name, a name he had heard me mention in the obligatory love life backstory that comes out when you’re intimate with someone for a while. I’m jealous he got to talk to you in real time.
Again he tells me to call you. So I do.
“Hey, you’ve reached [Boy’s Name], I can’t come to the phone right now, but–”
I hang up.
I plead to him for an explanation. He tells me to call again but I don’t want to. I don’t want to hear the beep, because then it’s not just us talking, but instead a pre-recorded message that you never intended me to hear. I refuse. He gets more angry, insisting. Can this really be the same guy who was twirling my hair and kissing my cheek as I fell asleep last night? I dial again. He tells me not to hang up.
“Hey, you’ve reached [Boy’s Name]…”
As you rhyme off the same message I’ve heard a thousand times, I think of the possible things I could say. Do I explain that I’m being forced into this? That my former fuck buddy who you are now acquainted with is putting me through some perverted game and I’m scared to disobey his request?
“… I can’t come to the phone right now…”
I could stay silent. You already know who it is. And you know I never leave a message. Maybe my silence would trigger you? Maybe you’d wonder if something was actually wrong and that I needed help in some way and despite the myriad of people I could have called for help, you’re still the only person I want at my side when things aren’t going well. Maybe you’d call me back. It’s those ‘maybes’ that do the most damage, and even though I know it’s stupid to think ‘just maybe,’ I can’t fuckin’ help myself.
“… but I wanted to tell you that even though what we had is over, I don’t look back on it in a bad way…”
“The hours spent in my van on Gladwin. The movies. The shitty movies. Leaving work when that douche sent you that email. Croaking contests. Card games. Better man. We had a badass past and no one, not even you and these incessant calls, can fuck with that…
…I just played air guitar…
I crumple to the floor in a heap of tears. He watches. His face isn’t angry or forceful anymore, it’s pity. But I don’t care. I dial again. I listen. He leaves.
I had a dream about you that was so damn real and in that dream you showed a modicum of sympathy because you acknowledged my existence.
That’s how I knew it was a dream.