Monologue (goes with Letter)

It was the time when you called me in the middle of the night, remember? It was in January, the night when you and your friends went to the club opening? We had been inside all day because of the snow or the cold.

Upon waking up, I had remarked that, ‘It feels like a Fitzgerald day’.

You, in your obstinance, rolled your eyes and, through lips parched from sleep, replied that, ‘It could be nothing but a Faulkner day.’

‘Certainly be one of those days, anyway,’ though I’m sure you didn’t hear me because I only mumbled it as I hoisted myself from the bed. That apartment was bigger than the one you have now, and the acoustics weren’t as good. Probably better that you didn’t hear me, since it was one of those days.

We slurped our coffee and chewed our oatmeal in meditative silence, and the clock your grandmother had given you was the loudest thing in the apartment. It was like that nearly every morning, wasn’t it? We each needed our quiet time, moments to collect our thoughts for the day or something like that.

After breakfast I had suggested a shower, but you declined, offering that you, ‘didn’t have the energy for it.’

I countered, in vain, that, ‘You’re going to shower anyway. How much more energy does it take to shower together?’

You just looked at me, and your eyes, under their heavy lids, dared me to keep going. I smiled and went into the bathroom alone.

I think things got better after the showers, because we did manage to play a game of scrabble while watching something inane on the television. You’ll remember that I would have trounced you, but you claimed that, ‘There is no way that “Panjector” is a word.’ And so you won, as always.

I think the rest of the day was spent reading, not talking much, except when you asked me, ‘Proust uses “panjector’ throughout “In Search of Lost Time”, doesn’t he?’ though there wasn’t much of a smile on your face and I had trouble bringing one to mine. You weren’t very interested in my attempt to read Proust, remember how you’d shunned my idea to read it simultaneously? So you read whatever you were reading and I read about Swann on my own. It’s how it went.

Anyway, you got the call from your friend, was it Jordan or Sam? I’d asked, ‘Was I invited?’

‘Don’t be silly. You wouldn’t have any fun at all with us,’ as you put on makeup for the first time in over a week. And you were dressed and out the door within fifteen minutes, leaving me alone in my sweatpants.

I’d eaten leftovers and continued reading Proust. The apartment wasn’t any quieter with you gone, which struck me as odd. I went to bed around eleven, assuming you wouldn’t be home before midnight.

Your call woke me from a dream; I think it was about dogs and basketball? I was groggy on the phone and you were drunk. You needed a ride, but you weren’t at the club. You were at someone else’s apartment. His apartment. I continued to talk to you as I pulled on socks and a shirt and then my shoes.

I don’t know why I did it. I don’t know why I charged out into the night, like Menelaus after Helen. My mind was in a thousand places, none of them good. But you had called me, had asked me to pick you up, and I could do at least that.

You were waiting in front of his building, and you didn’t have your coat. You got into the car without a word. I looked at you and smiled, but I didn’t say anything. And, as I pulled away from the curb, I placed my hand on your thigh.

That was the only time I’ve ever seen you cry.


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