The Ring

October 25, 2017
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Ring

His phone rang, its vibration echoing throughout the wooden table.
He picked it up. “Hello?”
No one answered.


He wasn’t sure how long it was supposed to last. At first, he supposed days: enough to give him space, let him breathe, let them realize just how much they missed each other. Then, he guessed weeks, with no phone call or text, left with nothing but the faintly panging last words he whispered before he left: “I’m not sorry.” Then, he could do nothing but accept that it would take months. His phone remained idle.


The left side of his bed remained kept, the sheets neatly tucked in as he had done every morning, the pillow fluffed. It felt colder at night, the vent running right above the bed. He had always liked the room cold. It helped him sleep at night, and he always turned it down without any sort of complaint. The serene grin across his face mended the shattered shards of glass within his chest, his beauty stitching it all together again.


His phone collected dust, the sheer black screen, long dead, layered with greying lint, its body drawn on the nightstand with dust like a chalk outline, the last of his life rotting away with that cell phone.


He heard it ring from where he was perched in the kitchen, bony back hunched over a minuscule bowl of cereal, trembling fingers struggling to grip the spoon. He moved before he knew he had heard the ring, his feet skittering against the floor as he dragged himself to the bedroom. It was the ringtone he had set for him, a bright array of notes and harmonies that sang just the way he had- lighting every inch of space around him like an exquisite firework turning the treacherous night into day. Now all he knew was night, and the cheerful singing of his phone only mocked him. He stood in the doorway, hands braced on either side of the crumbling white trim. His phone lit up through the velvet blackness of his room, tearing through it like a lighthouse through the sky and across the ocean. But he knew he couldn't be found, lost in the cold void with nothing but crumbling driftwood beneath his weight.


His legs carried him to the brightness like a moth drawn to a flame, eyes wide as an embodiment of sunlight itself, his photo, blared from the shattered phone screen. The broken glass distorted his lovely features, his button-nose slightly offset, crescent eyes that smiled more than his lips crooked. The name smeared across the top of the screen. Why would he call?
His finger pressed against the screen as he cradled his phone in his palm, jagged ends of glass catching at his skin. The cold of the screen pricked at his fingertips. This couldn't be… His picture taunted him: those beautiful lips turned downward, rounded cheeks caked with tears, eyes and brow crestfallen as he stared at him, pleading pouring from his expression in waves that tied him under the surface. His fear filled his lungs, expanding them to the point of break as he struggled, grappling for the surface as the murky darkness entrapped his ankles.


With a shaking finger, he traced his smile, mimicking it across his own features, however pained and crooked. He never wanted to see those vibrant cheeks caked with tears again, if he got to see them at all, their existence only visible from the picture across his phone screen and the dull, dying memory stabbing at the back of his mind.


The phone continued to ring.
He swiped his finger across the bottom, lifting the slim phone to his ear, his hands trembling as he struggled to hold on. “You called!”


The line went dead.

 

Through the days, which all seemed to be night, he called again and again, each time his phone rocking him awake and his photo glaring at him, mocking him with his happiness, with what once was his.


Each time, he sat there, staring at the name across the top as he felt the water trap him by his feet and yank him in the water, teasing both survival and death as it pulled him under, nearly suffocating him before letting go. He wished he could just drown already.


Each time, he picked up, cutting his finger on the glass as he swiped to answer the call, pressing the screen to his ear with quivering hands.


“Hello?”
“Is this Mr. Park?”
“Wh...Arin?”
“No, Mr. Park.” He stared at the phone. It was his phone number, yet he did not answer. It was this stranger, a voice foreign and deafening to his ears. The last he had heard had been nothing but a song. This was a scratched record. “My name is Dr. Kibbler. You’re listed as Mr. Moon’s emergency contact.”
He nearly dropped the phone. He kept silent, tongue heavy as lead.
“Where…?”

“I’m sorry, sir. We couldn’t save him. It’s best that you come in.”
 






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