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She decides that eleven o’clock is about the right time to call. He should be up.
She remembers that eleven is her unlucky number, so she changes her mind and picks 11:08 instead, because eight is her lucky number so things should balance.
11:07. She’s realizing how nervous she must be, to trust silly things like lucky numbers.
Still 11:07. How long can one minute take to drip by?
Suddenly, the little lit-up number on her pone display switches from a 7 to and 8. Something in her stomach jumps. Her hands shake, and she decides to go turn the CD playing in the living room. She has to be able to hear him.
The music is turned down. The walk back to her room is slow, tortuous. Her fingers are unnervingly accustomed to clicking into his address on the phone. It doesn’t take long enough for her to decide to put it off. The deciding moment comes. His name is on the screen. The number scrolls across twice before the slams her thumb on the button.
It rings once. He said he’s at his aunt’s house.
Ring. What if he’s still asleep?
Ring. What if his sister picks up his phone?
Ring. What if he doesn’t answer?
He does. “Hello?”
She talks. Reminds him that she likes him a lot. Slowly eases into the part where it isn’t working out for her. He doesn’t quite get it the first time. He asks how. She almost melts right there, begs for him to forgive her being such a horrible person. But she doesn’t. She’s harder than that, tougher than one phone call.
“I liked it better when we were just friends. So can we try that? Please?” She’s asking him to understand. It’s not his fault.
“Sure.” She can hear the stress tainting his voice in places most people wouldn’t notice. But she does. She notices. She reminds herself that she understands most people like that, that it’s not just a special connection to this one boy.
“See you on Monday,” she says softly. Like a promise. One of the few she can keep to this boy.
“Yeah. Bye,” he says shortly. The line goes dead. She presses the end button and looks at her screen. It’s been one minute and twenty-seven seconds. One minute and twenty-seven seconds. That’s how long it took to shatter the ties her heart made to him. Suddenly she feels incredibly light, loose, like an enormous burden has been lifted from her shoulders. Free. That’s how she feels. Like she could fly.
She staggers over to her beanbag and falls on it, feeling real relaxation creep through her for the first time in months. Curled into a ball, she lays on her side and enjoys that free feeling for a while before, she knows, the remorse will set in.
She lays there for a long time, just breathing.
Her glasses slide off her face.
Then slowly, inexplicably, she begins to smile.