When He’s Drunk And He Calls You

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Leanne Surfleet

There are sensible moments for our actions. There’s a time and place for everything as the cliché states. There’s a notion, a universal decree that equates forces and movements with pertinent explanations.

But when he calls you drunk, there is no sense. He never was a boy of rationality, right? He was just a hindered soul that broke all norms.

Is that what attracted you to him in the first place? Was he different? Did he stand out as an unhinged force you’d never experienced? Was he your first taste of whiskey? Did he distill your naivety? Did he sting and burn like the hard liquor always by his side?

He was your past. He had served a purpose for you then, when you were lost, rebelling or in self-discovery. He was your host and you were the pathogen, moving through his incongruity until you learned what you needed to outgrow him.

He never learned though, he never learned or accepted your departure. He thinks he’s moved on when he’s sound and sober, but when he’s drunk, really drunk, he’s the victim of his own nostalgia.

The first time he resurfaces is at a particular milestone, maybe an anniversary or a holiday. He resurfaces on these days because he’s lonely even in the company of others. He realizes the date in his drunken stupor and that elicits a memory of you. He broods over that memory, wherever he is and whomever he’s with. The setting and people in front of him are background noise but the memory of you is the only thing in his view. He takes his drink and then some, hoping the memory will subside. His efforts are futile because with each drink, the memory becomes stronger and clearer and suddenly he feels the urge to relive it.

He takes his phone and scrolls until he finds your number. He doesn’t hesitate and presses the phone icon. He hears the ring, but no one answers. This doesn’t fathom him as a reason to stop; instead he keeps calling, over and over led by intoxicated stubbornness.

At his first attempt you’re sleeping, sort of. You’re in between, somewhere half dreaming when your phone flashes. You don’t take this seriously. You figure the call will go straight to voicemail and you can deal with it in the morning. So you change your sleeping position and turn to the other side. But your phone keeps flashing and grudgingly you give in to curiosity. So you reach for your phone, and see his name flashing as missed calls. You dismiss this as your imagination. Am I dreaming? you will ask yourself. But he calls again and reaffirms your awaken state.

You don’t answer yet. You just toss your phone away and equate his calls as pocket dials. But then he begins to text and you can see a continuous stream of incoherent sentences. You try to make out some of these words but all you can decipher is a past you don’t want to revisit. But he persists, disturbing your attempts at sleep and moving on. A dozen more missed calls pass until you decide the only way to stop him is to tell him yourself. So you pick up your phone, swipe to answer and are faced with momentary silence.

He doesn’t say much nor do you. You just listen to his breaths and hold your tongue. You can smell his whiskey breath through the phone, you just sense it. He breathes heavily, congested with so much he wants to say but he doesn’t know where to begin. The entire debacle is irrational; what sensible way is there to begin a conversation at 2am in the morning? But he is the illogical one, right? So he dives right in not holding back. He murmurs a few words at first, a stuttering repent of you and I. Then he escalates to verbs and adjectives and recites a ballad of how much he misses you. He concludes his monologue with a proposal, a proposal to try again, start over and some synonymous bullshit. At this point, you are impatient and tired of his familiar empty words. “Stop,” you say, “please, just stop calling me.” You’re about to hang up when you hear him pleading and begging desperately. He thinks this will evoke empathy but you know better. You’ve conditioned yourself against this. He recalls of you fondly, but you remind yourself of all of that hurt and sorrow he inflicted – these are the only memories you have left of him. So when you hear his drunken protests, you don’t feel guilty. You end the call with a renewed conviction of moving on and cease his lovesick whimpering without any remorse at all. TC mark

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