Long Distance

I got a call from 1992 today.

There was so much static on the line that it was almost impossible to hear the caller.

There was so much static on the line that it sounded as though a flock of birds had picked apart the telephone wire for food, used parts of it to feed their young, the rest to build nests that sometimes emitted electric shocks– only sometimes.

There was so much static on the line.

I put the handset face down on the table, but I could still hear the faint squeaking and beeping that used to be the caller’s voice before decaying cables and years of estrangement distorted the sound waves into these grotesque noises. I picked up the handset and smashed it against the wall. Its pieces didn’t scatter and skid across the floor. Instead, it cracked neatly in half, somewhere between where I could not hear and where I could not speak. I took both halves in my hands and shook out– the names of concerts we did not attend, the moisture of hands we did not hold, the covers of comic books you did not buy, the rust of bikes I did not ride. I sifted through the phone’s remains and found the dried flakes of tears I could not cry, the thread of smiles I could not smile wound tightly around a pencil, glitter dust from cards I could not make by hand, dry bones of love I do not have to give.

Next time, I must be sure to check who is calling before I answer.

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