“Where is the phone?” I asked, like I didn’t know it was on the wall by the door to the kitchen. “Where is the phone?”
Sarah knew what I was actually trying to come up with. “Why don’t you use the extension in my room,” she said. “It’s by the bed.”
Jonathan gave me a little encouraging nod. He knew what I was thinking.
I’m grateful to them for both being right there with my need for privacy. I pulled my notebook out of the guitar case and went into Sarah’s dark, quiet bedroom.
I sat on the edge of the bed and picked up the phone on the night table. It took me a moment to find the page where I’d written the number. I noted the area code and the exchange. Had to be someplace close to where Jonathan and I had lived.
I listened to the out-of-tune buzz of the dial tone for a few seconds, working up my nerve while simultaneously beating myself up for everything. Everything.
I know. Not the best frame of mind for me. And exactly how I got myself gutted and shredded in the past, right? By making myself totally, irresponsibly vulnerable.
I dialed. It rang.
If I had been having dire thoughts about slip and fall accidents the night before, well, just imagine how dire my imagination was getting now.
An answering machine finally picked up, with a generic robot-like voice saying, “Please leave a message.”
I froze. I should have just hung up. But what if he was there? What if he was screening? But likewise what if someone else was listening? I didn’t even know if it was Ziggy’s own place or if he was crashing on Digger’s couch or what. I had no idea.
A few seconds had gone by after the beep and I settled for an almost voiceless, “Hey. It’s me.”
A few more seconds of silence passed and then the machine hung up on me.
I hate the dial tone. Hate it. I would have thrown the phone across the room except I had no strength left in me. I could barely muster the strength to hang up the phone.
I guess I sat there without moving for so long that Jonathan came to check on me. He peeked through the door, which I had left open, and then came and sat next to me, tentatively putting a hand on my shoulder.
“What happened?” he asked, which I think was his way of asking why my cheeks were all wet.
“Nothing,” I said. “Not home. Or not answering.”
I let him hug me then even though that squeezed a lot more tears loose. I can’t tell you how much I hate being a basket case like that.
“If you’re this upset and you haven’t even talked to him yet,” J said, “you must really be twisted up inside.”
It took me two tries at clearing my throat before I could speak. “Have you ever known me not to be?”
He didn’t answer other than to rub my back with the palm of his hand. Remind me I still owe him that medal that says “Supportive Ex” on it, will you?
Jonathan checked his watch. “We could wait a half hour and try again,” he suggested.
“Or we could go see the damn movie and I’ll try him after that and then I can say I saw it,” I said, kind of in a rush.
“That sounds like a plan.”
“You going to be okay?”
“I could use a drink.” My head lifted. I heard how that sounded. It didn’t sound good. “Of water,” I added.
“Good plan,” Jonathan said, standing up and then helping me up, too. “Good plan.”
(P.S. Anyone in New York City this weekend, Saturday is the Bisexual Book Awards! May 31, 6:30pm at the Westbeth Community Arts Center. Details: http://biwriters.livejournal.com/95788.html I’ll be reading from Best Bi Short Stories.)