from Nick Suss
May 5, 2014, 12:34 p.m.
Part 1: Back and Forth
Mentally transfixed on the time he spent at summer camp as a child, Jeff was jarred back to reality by the dull roar of sirens humming through his television set. How was it possible the 5’o’clock news was already on? He pressed the home button on his phone for the fourth time that minute and observed that nothing had changed. It was 5:08 p.m. He had no new messages.
Jane stared aimlessly into space. The pale white walls of her new apartment stared back at her, mocking her loneliness with emptiness. This was to be the first night Jane had ever lived alone. She moved straight from her parents’ house to her college dorm room to her boyfriend’s apartment to her next boyfriend’s apartment. Eventually that apartment became their home.
Jeff thought he felt a buzzing in his pocket. He pulled out his phone again. No new messages. It was still 5:08 p.m. He thought there could be no way that no time had passed. He walked over to the stove in the kitchen to check the time. The stove read 4:09. He looked down at his phone. It said 5:09. Jeff panicked for a moment before he realized he had never reset his clocks after daylight savings time. That sense of panic gave way to the overwhelming sense of anxiety which had plagued him on the couch. He thought he felt another buzzing in his pocket. It was just wishful thinking.
Jane couldn’t be alone. Ever since she was a child she couldn’t stand to be by herself for more than an hour at a time. It had been 45 minutes since Jane had last spoken to anyone. She started to twitch in the way she does when she got lonely. It starts in her toes and works its way up into her shoulders by way of her knees and her fingers. The twitch is painfully annoying, but it is satiable. It doesn’t matter what she has to do resolve the issue. She’ll do it. If no one else is going to look out for Jane, Jane has no qualms about doing it herself.
The way he saw it, Jeff had two options: One, he could stop waiting for the call and actually dial the phone himself. Two, he could throw his phone out the window and never have to worry about it again. That phone had been the bane of Jeff’s existence for almost three months now. Every waking moment of every waking day, Jeff wanted nothing more than to feel the sweet vibrations of the phone. He never left a room without it. He ran with it strapped to his arm. He slept with it perched upon his chest. Using Velcro, glass and ingenuity, Jeff engineered a way to keep his phone with him in the shower. But the call never seemed to come.
Jane dreaded the idea of living by herself for obvious reasons. She only succumbed to the idea when her best friend Allison gave her an ultimatum. Jane had been living with Allison for more than two months. And while the two of them had been friends since they were children and lived together in the past, Allison couldn’t take much more of Jane. She already had one baby to take care of. So Allison told Jane that Jane should either move out and get her own place or go into therapy. Jane didn’t make the choice Allison expected her to.
He had come up with a solution. He would leave his phone in the kitchen and turn the volume all the way up. That way, he wouldn’t keep checking over and over again. He turned off the TV as to not mistake any noise on the news for his phone ringing. He sat back down on the couch and reached for a magazine. He pretended to thumb through it for a few minutes before he realized there was no one around for him to fool. Still, all he could think about was camp. He walked back into the kitchen to check if he had accidentally turned his phone onto silent. He hadn’t.
Allison had been there for Jane all along. When the two of them were little girls they were inseparable. They may have lived two blocks apart, but they spent more nights in the same bed then they did apart. Jane always liked it better having Allison around. As the girls got older, they saved up all of their money and invested in an inflatable mattress. They had gotten too big to share a twin bed. Eventually they got too big to share just a small town. They went off to college together and shared a dorm room for three years. They would have lived together longer had Allison not met Dave, the love of her life. Allison spent senior year living with Dave and he proposed to her on graduation day. Jane was the first person she told. Jane, on the other hand, spent her senior year living with Brian. Brian was not the love of her life, but she thought he was. When it came down to it, Jane only loved Brian because he was in her life. If she couldn’t live with Allison, Jane had to live with somebody. Brian was her best choice. She broke up with him on graduation day.
Jeff heard his phone ring. It was the happiest he had been in weeks. He tripped over his own shoes and fell on his face as he ran to answer the phone. The pain didn’t matter. He pressed the button to accept the call without even seeing who it was who was calling him. Before he said anything, Jeff took a deep breath. This was it.
Sorry to call at this time of day, I know you’re probably busy, but I’m just calling to let you know that she’s doing fine. I thought you would want to know.
Where is she?
She moved into a new place over on Danforth. She’s trying to live on her own. She said it’s a matter of growing up and being her own woman. I never thought she’d have it in her, but I guess people can change.
You think she wants to see me?
I don’t think she’s ready yet, Jeff. You understand, don’t you?
Yeah, I guess. Just tell her to call me if you see her, okay?
I’ll do that.
Hang in there. Things are going to work out. Trust me. I promise.
Talk to you later?
I’ll be here.