The Seven Five Nothing

The Seven Five Nothing are a collection of hyper-short stories, each written in a single sitting with no editting.

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15. Calls.

She'd been calling me for days, but I never picked up. I didn't see the point. You never see the point. That's what she used to say. And this time, she would have been right. She would have been right, if I had picked up the phone.

Distraction. I need something to do, a place to be every time the display lit up and I knew it was her. Distractions. It's amazing how the mundane becomes more interesting when you need to not deal with the moment. I picked the unused pins from the cork board on the wall. The bills had lived here once. My phone flashed, her name calling out to me like a person adrift at sea. Coloured pins dropped into my hand. I thought about the bills some more. Our names, side by side. That'd never naturally occur again, at least, not in print. How mundane it had been. Heading up a bill. And now... And now? It's amazing how you'll find significance in the the mundane. The phone stopped flashing.

I took a walk and tried to not think about how she might be feeling. I felt cold. On the inside. But I also felt okay with that. And why not? She, we, us. Me. Now, just me. I mean, this all part of the process, right? Be the bad guy. It's better for her, right? And sure, I felt guilty for feeling relieved. Guilty for being okay with the idea of not sleeping beside her these days. But it haunted me a little. That feeling, you know? That feeling of what happened to us? To the time when I loved laying by her side, the smell of her warm skin that just made me feel good. Shit. That's when the sinking feeling kicked in. That's when I wondered if I shouldn't just answer the phone to her.

Then, one day, she stopped calling.

At first, it was okay. Good even. You think this is what you need. But I should have learned a long time ago that the minute the mind settled is the moment the guard slips. I started to worry.

I called her best friend, just to be sure. She didn't want to know. As far as she was concerned, I was a dick. Simple. I tried to explain, but it was useless. Fierce loyalty and a duty to protect her from my senseless and abrupt behaviour. She was just being a friend. The brick-walled response actually gave me some comfort. Okay, I thought, this we can deal with. She's obviously doing fine.

I moved on as you do, working forward from each moment. When I put the phone down to her friend, I let out a sigh of relief. Ruffled my hair. Let the internal physically shake out of me, if you will. Then, one minute melts into the next. You make a sandwich, you switch on the TV, you go to work, you come home, you go to sleep, you dream, you wake up, you come to the end of another week. And then, before you know it, it's starting to fade into the distance.

You forget a lot of the feelings. The tension and the knots in every word, moment and situation. The mundane is just the mundane, barely registering on the radar. Soon, you meet somebody else. Sure, it's a rebound, but you're okay with that. You like it. You like it because it's different. You like it because there's no pressure. You even tell your friends that's why you're seeing her, and that she's just come out of something long-term too.

Eventually, when it fizzles into nothing, you breathe a little relief again, glad that it didn't get too heavy. Didn't go where you didn't want it to. And the weeks have become months, and you're just in that routine now. The idea of truly being with someone - it's alien. Everything's fuzzy about it.

But through work and friends and whatever, you feel it coming. That next big thing. You can't describe it, really, but you know it. Know you're ready for it. And then it happens. Somebody new.

The routines are played out - the sex every day till you both get used to it. The fights that eventually creep in. Moving in together. And eventually, the end.

She's not picking up. I'm calling, but no answer. I think back, to when I picked pins from the board. And I smile. I'm sorry, I tell her. Not that she'll ever hear.
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