Dusk had long since left when I picked up the phone and finally managed to dial her entire number without putting it down. Nerves had hindered me all day but the flow of gin over the past hour had helped to still them.
It should never have been a difficult phone call, it wasn’t even necessary, but I had made it so. Like my first tattoo, it had taken days to psych myself into something I knew that I would ultimately do not matter what.
She was a shadow from my past. Once a shining light that I had blown so much that the relationship had ceased to flicker.Now it was a quiet dark place where only a few beautiful memories lingered, scattered in the shadows.
Distance had done most of the seperation, but time had now played her part as well. That was until now. I had just moved for no reason that involved her, although perhaps indirectly she had contributed. One of my reasons for relocating was to learn to better spill my stories and tell my tales.It was she who reinspired me to take up my quill and ink in the first place such a long time ago. She had nurtured all those initial ink stains and torn parchment. So perhaps that had something to do with the importance of this phone call. To thank a lingering shadow.
The phone rang six times before she answered. I know because I counted. I would have hung up after seven. “He … hello Taylor speaking,” she sounded like she was stifling a giggle. I hesitated, but there was no backing out now though, my number would have registered in her phone so I couldn’t call again later. “Hi Tay, it’s me … me, Ellie,” I added as an afterthought.
“Oh, um, hey El, just a sec.” I could hear her put her hand roughly over the mouth piece and tell someone to piss off, then a door close. I stole another hulp of my gin. “Hey, you there?”
“Sorry, that wast just…, just… anyway, how are you?” she stumbled on.
“I’m well, but listen I didn’t mean to interrupt if, um, if you’re busy.” Gosh could this be anymore awkward? “No, it’s fine.”
“I could call you back.”
“El, I said it’s fine okay,” she snapped quickly dragging up all sorts of memories from the cobwebbed corners.
“Okay, sorry, well how are you?”
“Yeah, i’m good I guess. Just you know, the usual, good. What about you? What are you up to?” She typically diverted the conversation away from herself. “Yeah I’m good too, I ah .. well I’ve moved, I’m actually down your way now, well I think. You’re still down south aren’t you?”
“Oh good. I, ah, I moved mostly for my writing, well partly.”
“So you still write then,” it was a rhetorical question.
“Well actually that’s why I called …” I drifted off. Here was the difficult moment, but the entire purpose of my call and all the tension prior to now. I gripped my gin and launched in. “I’ve been asked to read some of my stuff next week at some festival thing. I’m not sure why, I had a couple of little things published, nothing really, and then I was just asked.”
“Ellie, that’s really good – well done,” she interrupted.
“Ah, thanks. Well that’s what I was wondering. Well I have these free tickets to the reading and I wondered if you’d like to come along. I don’t really know anyone down here, and you’re into that stuff, well you used to be. Oh, and don’t worry there’ll be plenty of other people to listen to, not just me, oh and free alcohol, did I say that already? But if that’s not your thing anymore, then I understand…”
“I’d love to.”
“There’ll probably free food, oh. What?” She tripped me over in my flow.
“I’d love to come Ellie, that would be really good.”
“Okay, are you sure?”
“Yes El, I just said that I would.”
“Yeah, sorry well thanks.”
“How about you text me the details and I’ll see you there.”
“Great.” I blew out a slow breath that I hadn’t realised I’d been holding.
“El, I should probably get going, get back to um.. you know.”
“Oh yeah, sorry.”
“It will be good to see you, and to hear your stuff.”
“Yeah, it will, okay see you then.”
“Wait,” I grasped, “Taylor”.
“What?” I could hear the impatience rise.
“Just. Thanks. Thank you for putting the quill in my hand Tay.” The most coherent and confident sentence I had managed during this conversation just slid from between my lips.
I could hear the impatience slip into a small smile as she whispered, “bye Ellie,” followed by the click of the phone. As I hung up my own phone and lay back to finish my gin, I could see a small flicker of light from deep within my shadows.
A hopeful memory of a future conversation