The Cell Phone Story
July


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"Otherside"

How long will I slide
Separate my side I don't
I don't believe it's bad
Slit my throat
It's all I ever
I heard your voice through a photograph
I thought it up it brought back the past
Once you know you can never go back

A small lamp spills dim light onto her fingers as she dials the digits to his cell phone number. She is no longer na´ve enough to think that his call will come every night, but their last few conversations have been too short, and she needs to talk to him. She needs to know that they can still chat forever about anything and everything at all while their fingers draw patterns on the bed linens.

Ring.

A tiny seed of guilt makes a nest in her lower abdomen when she sees that it is well past midnight, but she quells it quickly with the knowledge that they need a lengthy conversation.

Ring.

Besides, talk is best right after a show, when his voice is slightly raspy, but lighter than anytime during the day. He is happiest onstage, and the energy usually burns for at least an hour after.

Ring.

Sadly, she cannot remember the last time they talked after the show. Conversation has become stolen bits and pieces of minutes when he has nothing to do.

Ring.

She sighs and prepares herself to leave a message.

"Hello?"

The woman's voice reaches her from a distance, as though she's caught in a tunnel with no light at the end, and she doesn't have to look in the mirror to know that the color is draining from her face.

"Hello?"

She wants to answer, wants to scream, wants to cry, wants to hurl at him every attempt she's made to keep them close, but the words aren't there, and so she simply hangs up the phone.

For the first night since the tour began, she turns her phone off, shielding herself from the apologies that she knows--hopes--are coming.

She has no need for midnight musings anymore.

*      *      *

Across the world, he is half-asleep, mumbling to the nameless face in his bed.

"Who was it?"

She shrugs, wrapping herself up in him. "Not sure. Baby, I think the screen said?"

His heart constricts, a leaden weight in his chest as his blood runs cold and reality forces his eyes open.

Sam.

Blindly, he moves off the bed, out of the room, somewhere, anywhere where he can't be reminded of his own ill will. Numbly, he takes a seat on the couch and runs a pair of callused hands through knotted hair.

Shit.

As he forces himself to breathe steadily, he cannot help but think that it has indeed become the word of the year.

"Otherside"
lyrics and music by Red Hot Chili Peppers
CALIFORNICATION