Longing for the electrical speech machine
I’ve been sleeping with H since October and we’ve never talked on the phone. I don’t know his phone voice. I have no idea what he sounds like late at night when he’s lying back on his pillow and saying goodbye before he disconnects.
We send messages until our fingers are numb. We spend four hours communicating on a Friday night without saying a word. If I’m in bed chatting, I will turn on my side, tip my cell phone horizontally and picture H’s face. If he were lying next to me, I believe he would be talking softly. He wouldn’t be whispering exactly. He would be speaking in breaths. I would feel the sounds on my eyelids and and nose and lips before I heard them. I would smile with my eyes closed and reach up and bring the top of his head down to rest my cheek there.
I tell myself that phone talking is passe. Busy people text. Industrious people e-mail. Besides, I am courageous in these forums. When my thoughts go directly from my brain to my fingers and bypass my mouth, I am audacious. I communicate in the extremes, either blurting or bloviating. Maybe this is what irks me. There is nothing in-between. There is no space to layer my words over H’s when we’re thinking the same thing and we can’t stumble over each other when we both want to be the first to apologize. These other forms of communication are ordered. I say something only after he responds. Our impulsive thoughts are lost or excused away with that’s-not-what-I-meants.
I am recalling the tower where I lived and my room shaped like a pie piece. My roommate could only study in the quiet so I would take all of my boyfriend’s calls outside. I would shut the door as tightly as I could without snapping the phone cord and twist it around my finger as I listened. Every night, he would tell me he missed me. Every night, he would wish me well in sleep. H sends goodnight messages. I wonder what tone he would use. I think about what else H would say on a phone call before bed and how it would feel if his voice was the last sound I heard.