A Phone Call

By Alejandro Alonso

The smoke from the cigarette in the ash tray on her bed floated through the air. It mixed with the humidity of the small room. Her apartment didn’t have air conditioning, which made for hot, long nights. Tonight was not too awful, but the air was still as thick as ever.

She sat at her desk, leaning back in the chair until it was pressed against the end of her bed. She balanced by pressing her feet up against the side of the desk. Her black hair draped over the back of the chair and onto the rose colored comforter. Her hands gripped an essay, wrinkling it every time she turned a page. Occasionally she dashed, crossed out, circled, and scribbled in the margins. The markings were barely legible, but she didn’t care enough to be legible. She wore what was considered her night garb, barely anything at all. It was a white tank top that came up just high enough on her breasts with loosely fitting pajama pants. It was enough to cover up.

“This is shit,” she said, then took a drag from her cigarette.

She read a few more lines and tossed the paper aside. After taking one last drag, she put out the cigarette in the ashtray on the bed, causing a puff of smoke to dance up into the air. She laid her head back and watched the smoke disappear, staring up at the ceiling. Her almond eyes glazed over.

As she stared it was easy for anyone to see that the youth in her soft face was fading away. It was not due to time or age, no, she was much younger than her fellow classmates. Nor was it the irregularities of university life; drastic changes in sleep schedule, drugs, large alcohol consumption, too much sex or not enough, etcetera. It wasn’t that at all. It had been seven years to the date since she’d lost it. Seven years and she could still feel how that trigger snapped in her hands, the jerk, then nothing. A shriek, tears, a collapse to the floor, urine soaking her soft legs while the family ran in— then nothing – not the way she’d planned it out. It seemed miraculous enough to make anyone believe in God, though it wasn’t enough for her.

Seven years. Her eyes closed away from the ceiling. Her full lips pressed together tight. The lines on the side of her face deepened as she squeezed her eyelids. Her slender body tensed, her hands squeezed the chair. Then a deep breath, her lips parted to let in the air. Her large chest throbbed up and down.

She let the chair rock forward and drop hard to the carpet, then grabbed the phone on her desk. Her fingers pounded the numbers quickly.


“Hey,” she said, her throat aching, “How was your week?” She put her head in her hand, and bit her lower lip.

“Good…busy,” he said, “I haven’t seen you in a while…or even heard from you.”

Her empty eyes stared at the wall.

“I know, it’s just been the same thing. You know,” she forced a laugh, “life and school.”

“Yea well….that’s everybody.”

“I know, it doesn’t mean it’s not different.”

She cleared her throat.

“It’s always different with you.”

“No reason to be rude,” her Brooklyn accent came through.

“You’re right. I’m sorry.”

She smiled.

“Did you get my card? I sent you one earlier in the week.”

“Yea, I got it, it was very nice,” she said, holding the card, “a little much, but nice.”

“Well, I’m glad you liked it.”

She read it through to herself again, stopping at her favorite line.

“Listen, do you want to come over?” she asked. “I’m not doing much tonight.”

A pause.

“Are you sure?”

“Yea,” she answered and squeezed the card against her chest.

“Are you sure? Because the last couple weeks you haven’t been so sure.”

“I know, it’s fine, things were just being…things…when do you think you could get here?”

“Do you really think…”

“Josh. Damn it, I’m sure.”

She could hear him exhale.

“You just want to…”he started.

“I know I just want to,” she said, “I know I always just want to.” She put her forehead on her desk, and now stared at the floor. “Today I just need a break… I just want… you know.”

“Are you sure you won’t regret it?”

She closed her eyes.

“Let’s just have fun,” she said, “Let’s just be together and have fun. Let’s make it special for us, for tonight.”

Her lips trembled as she waited.

“Ok,” he said, “We’ll just have fun.”

A tear rolled down her cheek and dropped to the floor.

“We are going to regret it though,” he said.

“I know,” she said, “I know. But let’s just make it worth something for tonight. Ok?”


They both waited for each other.

“I’ll be over in a little bit,” he said and then hung up.

She waited to hear the dial tone before putting the phone back down.

She lit another cigarette, inhaled deeply and let it out slow. Getting up from her chair, she went over to the bed and collapsed onto her back. She could still feel where it had pressed up against her, the cold feeling. She tried not to think about it. She tried to never think about it. Her eyes closed, her body stared up at the ceiling, that long hair draped the bed all around. The muscles in her legs ached as she pointed her toes towards the end of the bed, her arms out to the sides. The heat of the room began to stick to her skin. She opened her eyes.

Her tank-top was tight as she perked up. The tension relaxed from her muscles and skin. Her pants were loose around her hips. She sunk into the mattress.

The cigarette fell from her hand.