Physical Reaction

It was the first time I heard your voice in five-and-a-half months. You weren’t speaking to me – she told you I was sleeping, over the phone. You didn’t know I could hear every single word.

But I did hear every single word.

I tell them your voice is too loud and I couldn’t help it. Inside, I think my ears missed your too-loud voice too much to do anything other than send me into eavesdropping paralysis. I mean, I had a pillow that I could cover my ears with, I could have just left the room… I had options that I didn’t take.

Instead, I chose to think of all the times you used to call me with that exact same pattern: generic complaint/comment to break the non-existent ice, some niceties, the real reason why you called, the awkward goodbye. I chose to wonder if I had been so easily replaced.

I knew something was going t… I knew somehow that… we would sort of meet. I hoped and feared in equal parts. I wanted to grab that phone and tell you that I missed you, I wanted to make that five-minute walk to see you even if we wouldn’t say a word, I wanted to do things that would destroy something that no longer existed.

I knew all these things, but I didn’t know this would happen after you hung up:

I didn’t know that you would make me unable to breathe. That you could asphyxiate me with that short burst of “you-ness” that was more than I had encountered in those five-and-a-half months, I mean I had only seen your name most of the time on the computer screen even though you’re in some of the pictures over my bed that I don’t look at very often because you’re there but I don’t want to remove the fact that you were part of my life and it was like suddenly all these emotions came flooding back and I wanted to see you but I didn’t and I missed you but I couldn’t and it was just too much for my body to contain but I just couldn’t explode —

Oxygen.

Not enough; it felt like I was trapped, or more, it felt like I was on the brink of death and every, last, moment, of, panic, was, drawn, out, carefully, into, laboured, gasps.

Oxygen.

But I would shake. My teeth would chatter even though I wasn’t cold, I was wrapped up really tight in a blanket that smelled too much of the tumbling of the washing machine that it had been subjected to. It was trying to be clean of something, like me. But I would shake. Tectonic plates and earthquakes. Something of me was disappearing into the ground, but I wasn’t sure what, exactly.

Oxygen.

It was that dramatic. I don’t think you could ever believe that someone could feel that way about you; even I find it hard to believe that it happened. But I hope you still believe that I miss you. I’m just not ready to breathe you again. Not yet.

Oxygen.

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