The phone did not ring.
6 o’clock. The phone should be ringing. It has every day for as long as he can remember. Ten more minutes now. He begins to panic.
An old proverb forces him to the maggot-infested bed. A watched pot never boils. He slams his trembling eyes shut as the ancient springs sigh beneath his weight.
He waits for that phone to boil. It does.
He flails at the receiver, crawling, and snatches it from beside the nightstand and wheezes a greeting.
Silence, but then…
“Hello.” From the darkness comes a voice, cold.
Silent sobs temporarily mute the prone, bedside form. He coughs. Sniffs. Speaks.
“I believed you lost forever.” More sobs. More silence.
Struggling to contain himself, he chokes back tears and yanks his frail body onto the bed, pressing the receiver to his ear. His knuckles whitened with desperate effort. Glee. Sheer glee replaces despair. She is here again. He can live again.
“How are you?” She asked. So cold.
“Fine,” He lied. “And you?” Normality. He thanks God.
“I am well. I was late today, calling you. I hope that you were not much bothered”
“No, not at all! Why would I be bothered?” The lie burnt in his mouth like acid.
“Good. I have been busy lately.” Emotionless.
Suddenly the dark, fetid, motel room felt like a suite at the Roosevelt. Pulling himself into a sitting
position, he smiles.
“It’s fine. I’m just glad you called.” Sincerity oozed from every croaked syllable. He held onto her voice, wrapping himself in it, absorbing every last note. The voice is his comfort, the port in the storm of his life.
“I must go.” Stated the passionless voice from the other end of the universe. His
motel-room turned palace crumbled, burying him in a sorrow all too familiar.
“Goodbye.” A click. Echoed in his skull. He hurls the receiver across the room.
Self-loathing overcomes him. He should be used to this by now. What connection does he have to her, anyway? She is just a voice. Was she always just a voice? He does not love her. How can one love a voice?
He grasps what comfort her voice has left him. Panics, afraid it will escape like every other time. Thrashing.
He begins to scream.
Hours pass. He rises. Sorrow. Desperation. Existence. For him they are triumvirate. On shaking knees he enters the bathroom.
Needles will make the phone ring.