Structo issue 11

Page 16

Long Distance ethan chapman


ome nights I can still hear her, in the hours between dusk and dawn when dreams take over reality and become everything. She calls me, calls to me. It feels like I’m awake and sometimes I will be and the telephone will ring; I’ll go to answer it but I never get there in time. I always misplace the phone; it’s always somewhere else, just out of reach. In dreams, I see her face: her long blonde hair that rests gently on her shoulders; her green eyes that are so bright, sparkling, reflecting light; and her mind, my favourite part if there could be one, her wit and intelligence that most men would take for granted but I don’t. I can’t. I see her face, or my mind moulds a face that memory has possibly altered, and I wake up with her name on my lips. She’s gone. I try to accept it, and one of these days I am going to accept it, but every time the phone rings that spark of hope ignites and courses through me. My heart beats through my body. I get tunnel vision. I’m out of breath as I reach for the phone, but it’s never on the cradle, and why isn’t it ever on the cradle? And when I don’t get to it she leaves an answerphone message that breaks my heart. I keep them all and replay them every day. I can’t help myself. I know I shouldn’t, and it’s bad for me – I know it’s bad for me – but I have to. I have to keep her voice inside my head, even as the picture of her fades. Just after she was gone I got rid of all of the photos, assumed she had left me for a stronger, more intelligent, more confident man. Until she phoned me. Now I have nothing to remember her by, nothing except her voice. I’m sitting in bed now, in darkness. The sky looks black, but it’s never really black when you look close, is it? – it’s a dark-blue quilt and the stars are sputtering grains of light, dimming and brightening like they’re alive. I’m finding it hard to get to sleep nowadays. I don’t want to sleep unless she phones. I have to be awake for her. And outside the window dark clouds fill the sky like waves, like looking at the sea upside down, and I feel dizzy. My eyes burn and my brain is itchy. I need to get some sleep. I try to imagine myself relaxing into the bed, into somewhere calm. I sink through the bed and feel my eyes closing slowly, my lids magnetized with tiredness; the sounds of cars, and people talking as they walk past, get further and further away. I’m entering that realm of sleep, the place I have visited so erratically of late. Finally, I think, but slower, I’m thinking slower now as I forget and fall and…