Posted on by Dave Woodruff

It’s a bright room.  Lazy clouds creep through the frames of my windows. Birds chirp excitedly, they have a nest nearby.  And daylight spills mercilessly into every crevice of this old house, ripping away night’s veil from each crack, flake, and speck. The room has all the crisp colors of a Dutch painting, and it shocks my senses like the spray of gunfire.

You’re not here. In my dream, just moments ago, you and I whispered and giggled under covers on a dark and rainy night. You said you loved me. I was too embarrassed to speak.

I reach for my phone by the bed, and I call you.  I call you, and I call you.  I try to leave cute messages, but fail.  “I fell asleep and thought I heard the phone ring, but my phone says no missed calls, but sometimes it’s wrong.  Just thought I’d check.”  I keep calling.  Maybe if I hear your voice I can go back to that dream of the dark and rainy night.  But you do not pick up, and you do not call back, and this dream, this one full of lazy clouds, cracks and flakes, specks and merciless brightness, grows stronger and stronger until I must leave or suffocate.  I take to the sidewalk.

“Excuse me,” I say to a kind looking elder lady who is waiting for the bus, “have you ever been in love?”

The lady squints at me, a face of canyons and valleys assesses me, “Yes,” is the reply, “once, a long time ago, but I’ve given it up for better things.”  I want to know what better things there were, and I want to know how to give it up.  Was it like an infected appendix, or was it more serious, like triple bypass heart surgery?  But the bus comes, and she boards, and down the street the bus goes, leaving me with questions.

Back to the sidewalk, I walked.  I came to a bar called The Empty Bottle, ironically, it's only half-empty, and there I drink, and I drink, and I think about drinking so I can avoid thinking about calling you.  And then you call.  You do not mention all my calls, and do not comment on my messages, and I pretend like they haven’t occurred.  You say you were busy, and that maybe next week we could see each other again, and you hang up because you have to go.  I want to know where you had to go, but you hang up, and into the dark crevice of my pocket goes my phone.

It’s not your fault, really, that I’m in love with you.  I’m grateful for your kindness in the matter.  Like a cold, I assume it will pass, and leave us both in peace.

It is dark and rainy when I leave The Empty Bottle, which is now true to its name.  Onto the wet sidewalk I go.  The shine of the rain made the concrete ripple like a river of silver, and each droplet exploded in reflections of light like fireworks.