Thursday, May 27, 2010
A Conversation - #fridayflash
Photo credit: Gusgus2 @ trekearth
"Have I called at a bad time?" I ask.
I can hear he is distracted, barely listening.
"No," he says, "it's fine."
"Oh," I say. "Good."
There's a pause. He doesn't rush to fill it, so I do.
"We took Trixie to the dog spa today," I say, looking down at the ridiculously cute pom-chihuahua mix spinning at my feet. She always spins when she wants something. Spins, then sits pretty, all black fur and dark eyes. She looks like a fruit bat and weighs all of seven pounds. The vet says she needs to go on a diet. She has doubled her body weight since we had her fixed two years ago.
"She looks really cute, " I say, and am about to tell my 13-year-old son that the groomer put a paisley bandana around her neck when he interrupts to scream at his younger brother.
It hurts my ears.
It hurts my heart.
I wait until he's done. Then I wait to see if he'll say anything, or notice if I'm still there.
He says nothing.
I can hear him breathing. I can hear his fingers working the controls of his X-box.
Finally I say something, unable to bear the silence.
"Anything new and exciting?" I ask.
"Nope," he says.
"Fine," he says.
"How's your brother?" I ask.
"Good," I say.
Silence descends on the conversation.
My sons live with their father and I can't tell you how painful it is to only see them every other weekend. We lose touch. We become strangers. I don't know who they are anymore, or how to talk with them.
I force myself to call them, to let them know I haven't forgotten about them - how could I - but they never want to talk to me on the phone. They have nothing to tell me. They barely listen to things I tell them. There is no conversation, just stilted awkwardness.
I can talk with complete strangers more easily than I can talk to my own children.
As always, I feel sadness settling into the hollow void in my chest. I fight it off. I try to sound perky.
Since he won't tell me anything about himself, I try to tell him something about me. He never asks. I don't honestly thinks he cares. But I try. Trying is all I have.
"I found out one of my stories won a prize this week," I say.
"Oh yeah," he says.
He doesn't ask what story, what contest, what prize.
I hear his fingers, working the game.
Tears spill from my eyes and drip from my chin.
"I have to go now," I say.
"I love you," I say, barely able to speak the words but meaning them utterly.
"Love you, too," he says. Flatly. As if by rote.
He hangs up.
The dial tone buzzes in my ear.