5:50 AM – The latest yet. Blinding flash!
Marie waited. Knees hugged to chest, rocking on hips beneath her. She forgot how good it felt to sit on carpet. She loved this carpet. Took the carpet for granted when she lived here. She checked the time on the bedside alarm clock. 9:42 AM. She looked at the cell phone in her hand and gave it a shake. Yesterday she had taken pictures of Catherine’s adopted German Shepherd puppy. Catherine texted later, “Snd Apollo px pls!” Marie received the text while watching the latest New Girl online. Naturally, she forgot to send Catherine the pictures. Now she feared the pictures of Apollo were lost. Forever. Everything in her phone was potentially lost. Forever. Numbers. Dates. Applications. Her work-out playlist that makes her feel invincible. Her running playlist that makes her feel contemplative. Her grocery shopping playlist that makes her feel happy so she will not shop for food emotionally. All lost. “Fuck,” she said, and tossed the phone into her backpack. “$400 down the drain.” Marie looked at the bedside table. The clock read 9:48. Beside the clock sat a pink telephone. One of those classic numbers with the rotary dial. A landline with a cord that stretched all the way into Marie’s private bathroom so that she could talk to Catherine while soaking in the tub. She had loved that phone, but now the phone’s construction appeared antiquated and foreign, like those images of hunkered over cave-men on the evolutionary scale of mankind. But Marie loved that phone. She loved the way it cradled in her hand and propped on her shoulder. Looking at that old landline she remembered the first time she talked to Ryan Watson. It was eighth grade. He called her to ask why she’d missed school. “Are you sick?” he asked. “Do you need me to bring you some movies?” She did not know that Ryan Watson had noticed her. He was quiet. He seemed thoughtful. He was the kind of boy Marie hoped would call her. And after that day Ryan called Marie nearly everyday for the next four years. The only days Ryan did not call Marie were the days Marie called Ryan. He was her best friend – after Catherine, of course, but not really. Once, in ninth grade, Marie felt certain she was in love with Ryan, but when he called that night to watch music videos over the line, Marie knew Ryan would outlast such nonsense in her life. She had thought that. In fact, she had believed that. Her mother always told her she was a silly girl. Now Marie stared at the pink rotary phone on her bedside table and marveled that the phone she paid $400 for was broken in the bottom of her book bag while the $15 landline her parents bought nearly 20 years ago was the one she waited to ring right now. She dropped her knees from her chest and sat with her legs crossed before her. She sat with her back straight and breathed quietly, calmly, deeply. She could hear her yoga instructor in her head saying “relax and breathe”. Marie breathed, trying to feel the air fill her lungs and then seep into her blood. She did not try to clear her mind. She allowed the image to play over and over again. She could see it clearly. Her. Standing in this room. Holding a phone – not sure which one – to her ear. The voice on the other end telling her the thing she’d been waiting to hear. The thing that would change all things. And she would know why she came home. She had been glad to see Catherine and Catherine’s dog – What was that thing’s name? Apple? Apply? Appropriate? Damn! – but she and Catherine were different women now. And Catherine would laugh and pour her another glass of wine if she told her she’d spent all morning waiting for a phone call she’d been told in a dream she would receive. “You’re such a silly girl, Marie,” Catherine would say. “But, then again, you’re the smart bitch that got out of here when you had the chance.” Standing in her room. Holding the phone. The voice, which she had never heard before, would sound familiar. She could see it all. Feel as if it had happened. The clock said 10:04. But it had not happened. Marie groaned, breaking her breathing pattern, and she hopped up from the floor. She stretched her neck and shook her hands at her side and exhaled deeply out of her mouth while her feel toggled on her toes. “Drop it, Marie,” she told herself. “Stop being delusional.” She looked at the landline, cursing herself, and turned to walk to the bathroom for a drink of water. She grabbed a glass she kept beside the sink and turned on the faucet. “Apollo!” she said to herself, followed by a noise in the other room. Marie jumped and the bathroom filled with her response to the ringing telephone. It sounded like shattering glass.