The phone rang incessantly on the nightstand; he knew it was just by the number on the screen and because of the lateness of the hour. His heart started to pound and his breath was short, just by the ring of the phone. He didn't answer; just let it go to voicemail. He had answered it so many times in the past that it was hard not to automatically jump on the call. He lay back against the pillow and wrestled with himself over what to do. How many times could he keep going back to her? At work, they were casual, no one even suspected anything. Weeks would go by and then one of them would break down and call the other one, they'd tried so many different times to stop, but neither one of them could.
Inevitably the late night calls would start when he would try to resist her. Some nights the calls were earlier than others, and they would talk and laugh and then they'd be okay again for another couple of weeks or months. He missed the times when they were able to just be together without any complications or misgivings. So much had changed since that day at the diner, he knew it, she knew it, neither one wanted to admit it.
He knew where she was, she always called from the same place. Empty glass of whiskey in front of her, sad country song playing in the background, everyone on their way out, she'd most likely gone there with someone who was by now long gone, the bartender was cashing everyone out and they'd be putting up the tables.
He didn't listen to the voicemail at first, some things never change and it would just be the same as always. He could hear it in his mind anytime he wanted, "Baby, I still love you." Somehow, it didn't mean the same thing when she said it during these calls. He looked at the clock and decided that maybe this time it was different, maybe this time she would mean it. He dialed the voicemail and felt a tear trickle from his eye as he heard her say it again, the same thing every time. He was tired of this being the way it was between them.
He knew what bar she was at in fact, he'd heard her tell someone at the lab where she was. He could probably pick her up; she'd still be there, listening to those sad songs looking for someone to take her home. Getting up from the bed, he pulled on a pair of jeans and a shirt, put on his shoes and grabbed his wallet and keys. He got halfway down the hallway before he realized that he didn't have to keep doing this, he didn't have to be the one that always came through. He loved her and always would, but he couldn't keep the relationship alive anymore. He was torn, he wanted to go, he should go, but it would just prolong the hurt, and he'd hurt for much too long. She'd already dated others since they broke up, she could call one of them, instead of him.
Looking up at the ceiling he made his decision, he turned back to his room, this time was the last time. He wasn't going to be their when she fell anymore. He got undressed again and this time, when the phone rang he turned it off and said, "I'm sorry Angela" to the empty room and turned over.