Suppose that one afternoon, you were sitting at the kitchen table staring down at the leftovers of a meal untouched, and the phone rang. And then, supposing your eyes were to dart towards it with an emotion akin to the bastard offspring of terror, and agonized curiosity, it were to continue to ring. Mechanical purring impeccably timed to be just urgent enough to make you think the person on the other side of the line really wanted to talk to you.
Supposing that just as you went to reach for the pale receiver of that mechanical box, visualizing the movement of the telephone settling in your palm as you lifted it to your ear – when it suddenly fell silent; what would be going through your head?
I’ll tell you what was going through mine: you’re a fucking moron. Of course, I must admit that was the same phrase that had been playing pinball inside of my skull for the last six, consecutive months, and that prior to this lengthy run of self-pitying angst, it was a phrase that still tended to pop up quite often. . .
Let me tell you about the kitchen. It wasn’t very big, really, it was quite tiny, in a tiny house that did it’s best to pretend majesty. Faux oak cabinets whose inner lining had peeled away to show the water-damaged particle board and a pathetic collection of mismatched dishware, and while there was a stove, one of the four electric elements worked, and the oven functioned sporadically – choosing the most inopportune times to flare to life and burn dinner. Dishes piled high in the sink, the refrigerator had been transported straight out of the nineteen-seventies; fully equipped with its own miserable montage of a pukey, olive-green colour and rust spots. One tiny window with a tinier translucent spot let in an even tinier beam of early-morning sunlight which shone directly over a stain in the worn linoleum. I couldn’t remember where the stain had come from.
The kitchen smelled like sex and beer.
The kitchen smelled like you.
The smell made my insides shrivel up, and my mind to shut down as the telephone settled to its solitude in its worn out cradle. I couldn’t help reflected with that stereotypical detached apathy that a cradle was something I could see myself wanting right now, but then, you were never one to offer me comforts when I needed them. You were here for a fuck-buddy, and the only time I’d ever see you was when you were strung out on something and reeking of cheap American beer looking for a fast bang in a squeaky bed (or in this case, a squeaky floor).
I couldn’t think of anything else to do at the moment, so I sat myself down at the table again, and picked up the lonely BIC lying on a pad of disheveled loose-leaf where I started to write you another letter.
On that piece of paper, I poured my soul out to you, and went on to take up a few more sheets, single-spaced and printed. You abhorred handwriting, and always got so angry when I used it – I’ve always thought it was because you couldn’t read it, but it may have been because your mother always wrote in script (and we all know how much you adore her). I was just letting the words flow, knowing that I’d never find the courage to stand my ground and hand you the pages before I walked out of your life because you’d always been mine. Biting down on my lower lip in between swigs of some golden-clear tequila I signed it with a tiny heart next to my name, and laid my head to my arms in a state of mental exhaustion. My cunt hurt, and I had bruises up my torso, but there was no one to soothe this agony – well, no one but my old friend José and his glass house.
Two weeks ago, I would likely have carried myself wearily to bed, and cried myself into a dream-filled sleep even more painful, but two weeks ago I was still trying to pretend I thought it was worth the time. I’d since discovered the soothing powers of this cacti-brewed alcohol, and had drowned my sorrows in this pit of oblivious nothingness for thirteen consecutive nights. Two weeks ago I was fifteen years old.
With the bitter taste of tequila on my tongue, and the bitter taste of rejection lingering on my lips I reached across the table for the lighter, idly thinking about how BIC must be a massive company – pens and lighters – who the hell would have thought? Flicking my thumb over the harsh metal of the sparker, I set your letter aflame, and dropped it onto the pile of dirty dishes to wallow in its own filth, and pointlessness.
Perhaps I should have followed suit – taken my own ragged tatters and burned until there was nothing left but a weightless ash – drifting through the air with a caustic indifference for the eyes I might momentarily blind, and the hearts I might unintentionally break. You broke my heart, did you know that? Rather, you dissembled the little bit I’d been born with: these moments I sincerely doubt I’ve ever really had a whole one. Apathy is my own worst enemy but the most reliable relationship I’ve ever had. As it was, lacking the courage to take those full steps and obliterate the sting of my existence returned to my seat and contented myself staring out the window – just imagining that somewhere, there was someone who gave a flying fuck and didn’t walk off after shooting a load across my stomach. The easiest way to make yourself feel better is always a blatantly impossible lie, because they always feel so good when you tell them – consider that piece of advice free.
©Erin L. Werle, August 23, 2003.