...Pick Up The Phone


… Pick Up The Phone
by Lauren Brice
I let the vibrations roll through my fingertips, pulse through my palm, and radiate through my arm, straight to my chest and through my body until it touches every part of me. I press my eyes closed and inhale deeply, trying to keep the shakiness from my breath. I think about my lungs, expanding with the heavy night air, and how they push against the reaching, white bones of my ribcage, fighting against what’s there to protect them. My skin strains against the pressure of this biological machine as my lungs win what they want, to keep me breathing. 
And then the buzzing stops, and the silence swallows the house again. Perfectly still, like it should be well after dark. Because humans find darkness paralyzing. I know I shouldn’t, but I let my head roll against the forearm, forcing me to feel the uncomfortable, warm moisture that’s been setting into my cheeks. I risk a look at my lavender case that sits beneath the pads of my fingers, hoping it doesn’t jump into another fit while I have my eyes on it. 
That’s when I lose all self-control, all sense of self preservation. My fingers move faster than they should, over the plastic casing, pressing on the glass screen, desperate to tap the source of the poison in my brain. 
“I miss you.”
“Emmy, I’m sorry.”
“It was a mistake.”
My thumb sweeps past these notifications to the top where a yellow banner catches my eye. “James Hilt sent you a snap!”
I should just click the off button. Go back to sleep and delete his existence from my life when I wake up again, when I’m not drunk on insomnia and possibility. Instead, I push myself up against the soft suede of my headboard and type in my password. “1, 2, 3, 4.” My finger hovers over the yellow ghost icon to open my Snapchat, but I know I shouldn’t go there. 
I hit the Message button and ignore his ten new messages, the ones that have sent my phone into spasms all evening. Instead I open my thread with Kelsey, hoping she can talk me out of an impulsive choice even if she is asleep five blocks away. I read her words. 
“Don’t take him back.” “He doesn’t deserve you, and you don’t deserve this.” “Seriously, Emmy, you need to let him go.” “If he didn’t talk to you for two months, he shouldn’t get you back now.” I skip my replies because I wrote back the same defensive words that are hammering around in my head, banging against the cranial walls, trying to make my head explode. I know she’s right, but everything in my body burns from screaming protests. I’m not sure how to fight the war in my head between what I want and what I should want. 
Then I click over to my messages with James. I scroll past the “sorry’s” and the “I was wrong’s.” Those mean nothing to me. If it was just those words, I’d never reply again. But then I find the real words from before, and I laugh. My lips actually part into a smile and I giggle like a little girl. I hate myself for reading these words again, for making myself fall for him again. I should hate him. 
Against every ounce of my will to move on, to stop beating on my heart over and over again, I click over to my Snapchat and let my thumb hover over the red square. I almost don’t want to open his message, because once I do, whatever it is will disappear. I’ve always been afraid he will too.
I let my thumb drop, opening up a full screen picture of his dog, Sandy, with her droopy ears and a mysterious, stupid grin that matches her owner’s. In a banner through the middle, there’s an emoji blowing a kiss. I feel the muscles of my face pulling in directions I don’t like. I let the image run out and then stare at the brightness of the screen, seeing everything and comprehending nothing. I close my eyes again and focus of the soft cotton of the sheets underneath the palm of my hand, how cool it feels, soothing. The roaring tornado in my head knocks over every insecurity, dominoing my feelings, muddling my mind till I don’t know what to do. 
Then I double click and focus the camera frame on how the moonlight glints off the crystals of my chandelier. My thumb presses down on the shutter, and I type four words I know I shouldn’t. “I miss you, too.” When my thumb hits send, I count the seconds as I force air into my lungs. I don’t want to admit what I’ve done, but the poison endorphin rush comes to my brain like a balm, and it’s almost okay, but it only lasts a second. 
I glance back at my phone and see that it’s sent. That’s when I feel the anger rise in my chest, burn behind my eyes, and light my mind on fire. Why do I keep doing this to myself? It isn’t right. I’m not helping myself. I see Kelsey’s face, with stone cold eyes and that disappointed curve of her mouth, ready to shame me and blame me for being weak enough to let him back in my life. 
Suddenly, I want them all gone. All the faces, all the memories, all the times they’ve walked away or told me I was being stupid. They ruined me.
My arms pulls back over my head with a jerk, and then with a fast snap forward, my hand opens sending that rectangle of metal and plastic and glass flying end over end across the room, and my problems fly with it. The headache, and the blame game, and the uncertainty, all the feelings of weakness. 
I watch as it hits the plaster, the corner cutting into the ocean of blue wall, the glass erupting from the front, falling to the ground in tiny, cutting shards of rain. Gone. All of them gone, like demons released into the night. 

And I finally let myself sleep.

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About The Author: Laine is an author, book blogger at Reading, Writing, And Me and the editor of Fireworks In The Night which she created to share her own work and that of others who have a story to tell.
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