When I am waiting for your call I imagine all kinds of things you could be doing.
You could be on the train, underground with no service. You could be at a loud bar and you don’t hear your ring. You could be at the library, working late on a paper and your phone is turned off. I imagine you’re on the other line with your brother, and he’s really upset about some job he didn’t get and you’re consoling him. I imagine you’re napping after a long day or in the shower or a solo movie or somewhere out of reach. Anything that isn’t looking at my missed call and putting your phone away. Ring ring.
I spend a lot of time waiting for your call. “Talk to you soon,” you say. “Be done in an hour,” you say. “Call you later,” you say. I, equally as casual, reply, “Oh! Sure. Yeah! Later.” Later. She never comes.
I keep her dinner warm though. She is a flight of fancy I never quite give up on. I ask my roommate, “Hey, any idea where he went tonight?” And she looks at me, eyes brimming with pity and she says, “He’s your dude. You don’t know?” And I have to swallow shame as I admit I don’t.
Where are you? I wonder. Who are you talking to? Who do you look at and feel my vibrations against your leg and decide is more important? Where do you disappear to for nights, days, weeks, months on end? When you tell me you will call me, do you ever really mean it? Even in the little moments just before you say it? Do you think you honestly will call and then something comes up? Or have you never once meant it and you know that in your heart each time you tell me empty lies? Ring ring. I race for it. Is it you?
Later, I will learn about feminism and I will tell myself that I can call you if I want to. Or that I don’t have to wait at home in case you decide you want me that hour. But the temptation is still there. What if you call and I am not around? If I miss it, will you ever call again? I feel like a ballerina, tripping during a pirouette, blowing my big chance. I don’t have to sit around, no, but I feel bound, woven in a tight spell where you dangle your time and affection over me like a ribbon over a cat’s face.
I ground my paw to the floor but I have an animal nature that can’t be concealed. You place the bait and I take it like I don’t know how this ends. How it always ends.
When I wait for your call, I worry you are with another woman with better hair, better skin, better clothes, better records. I imagine you have been abducted by little green aliens or kidnapped by masked villains who want ransom from your parents. I imagine you are desperate to see me, to reach out to me, to call me but you simply cannot because of circumstances beyond your control. I transfer my pity to you. Poor darling, he wants to talk to me so badly but he just can’t.
I wait for your call because there is nothing else I can do. I wait for your call because I need to learn how to place my hands on the walls of this prison and push, push, push until there’s more than just one phone call in my future. Until I no longer imagine you at all, in any scenario or position. Until I am flooded with calls, drowning in messages, making waves in the ocean with only my own two skinny arms.
Ring ring. The water trembles. I will not pick up the phone.