- Why didn't you ever answer my text message?
Jim raised his head. The pillow made a svusj sound. He looked at her. They were surrounded by the cover of night. For the past three nights it had encouraged confessions. It was just after one o'clock and Pam shifted a bit anxiously to her side.
- I've always wondered Jim.
She often used his name in bed. She didn't quite know
why. She seldom used it like that during the day. But she liked using
it. Liked to remind herself that he was in her bed. Her Jim. In her
bed. It felt triumphant. And she liked peeling the skin of their past
and tonight it was the unanswered text message that had grabbed her
attention. She remember how lost he had felt to her as the days went
by without a reply. After their chance encounter on the telephone,
she'd felt like something between them was right again. She stopped
waiting for a response two days after the Diwali party, and it dawned
on her that chance encounters were all he was willing to participate
He put his hand against his head and looked down at her, gently stroking a few curls away from her face.
- What text message?
He sounded genuinely surprised. She moved closer to him and searched the darkness to find his eyes. They were wide awake and questioning.
- You know. The one I sent back in October when you were still in Stamford. About the Diwali party and Michael. Michael and Carol.
She carefully nudged his chest to get him to remember. She saw that he was scanning his every memory of the time they'd spent apart. He moved so that his face was directly in front of hers. She could feel him breathing.
- I'm sure I didn't get any message about a party, or Michael, or Carol for that matter. When was this?
She could hear how genuinely sincere he sounded. She sat up, and he quickly followed.
- You didn't?
- No. I swear. I didn't get any message.
She had tortured herself for weeks over his failure to respond, wondering if it would be too pushy to send another one, or even call. She knew she'd never get up the courage to call, but she almost sent him another text. So much heartache and worry…for nothing.
- What was it about?
His voice sounded hopeful. In the aftermath of lovemaking she'd made a rule of disclosing memories she had of them together, memories of how she had loved him for longer than he had dared suspect. He loved that game, they both did. It felt like the rightful retribution for all the pain they had gone through. He was making circles on her back and she leaned in and turned her head slightly as she continued.
- Michael proposed to Carol at an Indian Diwali party in front of everyone, and she turned him down.
- Really? Wow.
- I'm sorry I didn't get that message now.
- So. She turned him down?
- Yeah. He was crushed. I had to take him home.
- Really. You took him home?
- Afraid so.
- Anything else I missed?
- Well….oh yeah. He tried to kiss me.
- He did WHAT?
- Tried to kiss me.
- What did you do?
- Very assuredly turned him down…hehe…poor guy.
- Poor Michael, he's…..something.
- Yeah, he's something alright.
She turned around and kissed him gently on the forehead. He pulled her down on top of him and she could feel the calm beating of his heart as she placed her head on his chest. She remembered how desperately she had wanted to share it with him, knowing that no one in the whole world would get the ridiculousness that was Michael better than him. A feeling of longing washed through her like a distant tide she'd forgotten existed.
- I really missed you that night.
Her voice was tender and low and she could feel how his arms tightened around her.
- I'm sorry.
- Hey, don't be. It wasn't your fault. But it's strange though, that you didn't get the message.
- Yeah. That is strange. Are you absolutely sure you sent it to me?
- Yeah. I'm sure. I checked the sent box a million times that night, and it was sent. For sure. I remember checking it all through the next day also. I remember cause it was Kevin's birthday.
- Kevin's birthday…
Jim went quiet, like he was trying to remember something. She lifted her head and looked up at him.
- I just….I think…maybe…
- Maybe what?
- I remember that day. I was supposed to call him and congratulate him, but I….
He went quiet for what seemed like an eternity.
- But you didn't?
She wasn't patient enough to wait for him to carry on.
- No I didn't. And I remember why. I couldn't find my cell phone. It disappeared sometime the night before, and I was never able to find it again.
- Yeah. I remember because I was really annoyed about it. I can't believe I lost it the same night you texted me. What are the odds of something like that happening?
- I can't ….wow, you have no idea how disappointed I was when you didn't answer.
- That sucks. I'm sorry. I would have answered you. But I never got it.
She snuggled up closer. It was sad to even remember those days. It felt like such a waste. As fun as the late night revelations had been, they were often followed by a bit of melancholy. Melancholy over all the time they'd lost. As he pulled her closer and started to stroke her back she proclaimed, like she'd done night and night again…
- I wish I'd known.