Out Into The Night

“This, it’s probably the last message I’ll leave you.” The girl in the frame with the crazywild hair looks gaunt. Older now. She looks harder, than she used to, a little more brittle, a little less untested. Her voice, ever the cigarettes-and-whisky rasp, now also sounds tired, and far away. “Even if you’re still out there, you don’t want to be found. Not by me, anyway,” she says, glancing away and giving a little shrug, as though to prove her nonchalance. When she looks back, her navy eyes are glittering. “These stay unread. I checked. Maybe you’re gone. Maybe you’ve really been gone this whole time, and I just didn’t want to see it. If you were watching me, you’re probably pissed at all the time I’m wasting,” she says, and a wry smile twists her lips. “I wanted to tell you that I love you,” she says, “but you probably knew that before I did.” The sound that comes next is half laugh, half snort, and she rolls her eyes. “I’ll be okay. You probably knew that, too.” She pauses, a long time, looking away from the camera, and fusses with her fingerless gloves, with an errant braid. When she speaks, next, her voice is broken, and the words are quickly offered, earnest. “I’ll miss you,” she breathes, and then she grabs for the phone and that’s when the recording ends.

What he will never see is how she presses her lips to the screen, then, eyes closed, breathing in, then out. She sends the message into the ether, into every line and mailbox and message space she knows of. If he’s still alive, he’ll get it. If not, it’s one more message for a ghost, added to the multitudes. And then with nimble fingers, she erases the phone, watching until it promises it’s as empty as she feels. Then she just sets it down on the bar, picks up the glass, and swallows the last inch of whisky, letting it burn all the way down. She sets the glass, and a decent tip, down on the bar, hefts up her backpack, and walks away.

“Hey — hey ma–miss? You left your phone,” the bartender calls after her, picking it up and waving it, as she reaches the door. She pauses, one semi-gloved hand on the knob, but doesn’t look back–the space of a heartbeat, or two–and then opens the door, and lets herself out into the night.

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