My phone buzzes next to me. A missed call. A voicemail from you.
I put my phone to my ear, and listen.
You are drunk. I am familiar with the lilt of your voice and the undetectable slur you take on while drinking. Almost undetectable; I know you too well for it to go unnoticed.
I can hear people muttering in the background. You are outside a pub…or a nightclub? There’s a faint sound of music, so I assume somewhere too loud to think with any sense. Hence the phone call.
We broke up a month and a half ago and yet you still phone every couple of days. Normally just to chat or “see how I’m doing.” My mum thinks you miss me. I wonder sometimes if you’re worried I’m happy, or if you’re hoping I am. But you remember what happened right? You screwed up – again. Instead of fighting for you like I always have, this time I let you leave. But really, in all honesty, I walked away from you. I’m not the one phoning at two in the morning. I don’t miss you anymore.
You cough out a lump in your throat. I wonder if you’ve been smoking since we ended. “Hannah”. Pause. His voice is soft and it lovingly caresses the syllables of my name. “Why aren’t you answering? Are you ignoring me?” I wouldn’t tell you this, but I wish to avoid you like the plague. Whenever you call, you make me sad, so successfully in fact, I almost believe it’s deliberate.
“I have some things I need to say to you. I can only say them when drunk so you better answer.” You sound more obviously drunk now, almost whiney. You continue, breathing shallowly. “I need to know you’re alright, how have you been since the…fateful day?” Joyous day. It was a joyous day. It was the day I finally realised that I’m worth more than you were offering.
Another buzz. While I’ve been listening to this you’ve phoned another two times.
I picture you sitting on the pavement outside a dirty nightclub, tapping your feet rhythmically like you always do when you’re nervous. Scrolling until you find my number on your blocked callers list so you can unblock me for the night. Clicking the call button and hoping I’ll answer this time around.
“Your friends don’t want me calling you anymore.” He sighs heavily. “They want me out of your life. But I just have to tell you some things. I need you to know some stuff. I need you to know I’m sorry.”
I’ve heard this before. After every screw up an apology would fabricate itself from thin air; a believable one, I do give you that, but not a sincere one. I’m interested to see what you have to say. I know I shouldn’t be, I know I should ignore you but it was so hard to get you to open up before. I don’t feel I should pass up the chance when you are offering it willingly.
“I know I shouldn’t be phoning.” You’re right about that one. “You have a life. A life without me. But I need to make sure you are alright. I need to know you are handling it.” His tone is changing rapidly. It has gone from anxious to sad in a matter of seconds. He begins to lightly sob. “Because I’m not. I’m not okay Hannah. I don’t even know who I am anymore.” He has his head in his hands, the recording has gotten muffled. “I don’t want you back, I know I hurt you. But… I miss you.”
I end the voicemail there. I would rather speak to him than her him cry over a voicemail. It feels a bit pathetic, and despite everything, I have more respect for him than that.
An incoming call. I let it ring 4 times, counting my breaths alongside. I answer with no greeting. “You answered!” He sounds happy now. Only minutes after sobbing down my voicemail. I wonder if he was faking it. He talks about some mediocre stuff, music and friends and drinking. He tells me how he lost his job because he was too drunk to turn up. He didn’t even drink when we dated. The sadness creeps back into his voice. “I am falling apart, Hannah. I hate myself. I sit up at night and try not to cry. I’ve not been sleeping. I’m falling to pieces. I need someone to make me whole.” It isn’t me. He doesn’t want me, he just wants someone. The crying begins again, a little heavier than before. “I need someone else, and you knew me – like, I mean, really knew me and you still stayed. No one else will do that. No one else will love me like that.” I guess I was special then. I put up with your bullshit. I put up with you constantly tearing me down and having me grovelling at your feet. You destroyed my character, you changed me, and I don’t feel bad you feel this way, because now you know how the last two years felt. Now you know why I was so broken.
“No, they probably won’t”. I finally reply. I don’t have much to say.
“Fuck.” Anger rising in his throat. Despair. “Do love me Hannah? Do you? Because I still love you and I can’t believe I just told you that. Fuck this. Do you?”
“No.” No hesitation. I had stopped loving you a long time ago. I had accepted it and I was ready to move on by the time we finished. It was just a happy coincidence you initiated it earlier than I had planned.
You cry harder. I know you’re sitting there gripping the sides of your head with your hands, tugging at your hair. I know you so well. I knew you so well. I don’t know this side of you.
“I’m sor – I’m sorry I broke up with you, it must’ve, must’ve hurt so bad,” He’s crying so hard now I can barely make out the words he speaks. “I – I think I b-broke your heart.”
“No. No you didn’t.” This almost makes me laugh.
I end the call.
You know you didn’t.
You’re the boy who thinks he broke my heart, but in reality, you’re realising I’m stronger without you, and I think that is what broke yours.
You call another 6 times before giving up for the night.
I definitely broke yours.