A One Person Conversation

May 2, 2008
By Samantha Ellis, Burlington, MA

Call him. The bold black numbers stared up at me, causing the speed of my nervous pencil tapping to increase. Call him. “I don’t want to call him!” I said aloud to ward off the voices in my head. The ten digits were mocking me now. Just call him Annie.” “No!” I scraped back my chair and stood up, sweat beads of anxiousness making my hair stick to my forehead.
The office had been empty for the past hour, ever since Donald had packed up his briefcase and went home to care for his wife and newborn triplets. He usually was the one staying the latest and had paused to shoot me a curious gaze before locking up. I gave him a smile and wave to let him know I was fine and he reminded me to use the back door so as not to upset the alarm. I could have been gone by now too. I could have left with Paula at my usual time of five o’clock and gone to Dunkin Donuts on my way to my empty apartment. I could be cuddled up with that Styrofoam mug of freshly brewed coffee and the last few chapters of Pride and Prejudice. I could have been…if it hadn’t been for that tiny, insignificant scrap of neon green paper poking out from under the corner of my desk blotter. The post-it notice with the phone number neatly printed on it that I was now desperately trying not to call. “It’s ok” I reassured myself. “I don’t have to call him if I don’t want to. I’ll just…I’ll just clean up and go home. Nothing to it.” I glanced around the tiny office cubical. “My desk could use a little cleaning.” I moved a pencil from one side of the blotter to the other, making sure it was perfectly aligned with the others. Smiling in satisfaction, I moved my vision upwards to the row of hanging pictures above my desk and the smile disappeared. “Oh my goodness, I’d better fix that!” The one in the center of me and my two sisters was tilted slightly and threw off the whole image. I straightened it and slumped back in my chair, letting out a groan of frustration. “Uggggg!!! There’s nothing left to do and this stupid number is driving me insane!”

So just call him reasoned the voice that seemed to be coming from my computer. I glared at it sharply. “What if he doesn’t remember me” I asked it crossing my arms and turning away. My angry façade didn’t last long though. It melted away, to be replaced with memories of dancing the night away, slate blue eyes, and a crooked smile that had always managed to hypnotize me…and by always I mean the two hours we had spent together. Of course. My memory was interrupted by short flashbacks of loud men, smoky rooms, and bottles of vodka. “I mean, we were drunk. He probably didn’t mean it when he said we should keep in touch” I went on, confirming my own fears out loud. “Besides…” I stood and started pacing. “Had he really wanted to keep in touch with me, he would have been the one to get my number and he would have called me instead of the other way around.” I stopped pacing and faced my computer again. “What if I was just a one night stand for him? What if he was only sleeping with me to brag to his friends?” I grabbed my computer monitor and shook it. “What if he doesn’t like me?” My computer remained still except for its green power button, pulsing as it slept. My grip slackened and I fell backwards into my chair numbly. The eerie silence that now filled the tiny space around me asked me one question to my three. What if he does?

To push that question away without having to muster up an answer for it, I switched on my portable radio and began humming along with Rhinna’s “Umbrella”. My eyes flickered to that damn post-it note again and I buried it in my bottom desk drawer. “There, I’ll just go now.” I shed my too-tight work heels and replaced them with the pair of comfy wool clogs I had worn on my way here this morning. I snatched my purse and coat from the closet behind the door and reached for the light switch. The computer’s pulsing green light was like an evil eye, surveying my every move and reminding me that I still had to turn it off. I sighed heavily and trudged back across the cubicle. Why are you hiding from him? Why are you hiding from yourself? What are you afraid of? The computer seemed to spit out questions faster as I got closer. “I don’t know! Go away” I exploded, pressing the power button; the computer’s eye blinked once and was gone.

Just call him. What do you have to lose? Now it was the light bulb, swinging from its perch on the ceiling that seemed to be mocking me. “If I call him, will you leave me alone” I begged, close to tears. However, the resulting answer was only silence which pointed out all too clearly that I already was alone.

I shook my head in frustration and pushed the light switch towards the ground, causing the room to become blacker than fresh tar. I waited for a second to make sure no more appliances were going to start talking to me and left the room.

It took no more than five seconds for me to return to my office and scrounge through bottom drawer for that number. I folded my hand around it, and sighed in resignation before pocketing it and leaving for a final time.

No sooner had I rounded the corner when I saw a shadow in the light from the street lamp up ahead. I raised my eyes to meet the inquisitive stare of a pair of slate blue eyes. He was holding up a cell phone. “You said you were off at five. Why didn’t you call me?”

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