I was just about to fall asleep when my phone started ringing. It was an unknown number. I was going to ignore it but then my curiosity became too heavy to hold. On the last ring, I finally picked up.
The line was quiet at first but then I could hear someone breathing in the background. I was about to end the call when I heard a voice I thought I had learned to forget.
“Did I wake you?” he asked. His voice still made me weak even after all these years.
“No. I was still up anyway.” I lied. “What’s up?” I wanted to sound calm and casual but deep inside, I was shaking.
“Can you meet me? I need someone to talk to.” I couldn’t answer right away. This was the man whose absence hurt me so deeply, I didn’t think I would make it. Without him, I learned to walk, breathe and live again. My life’s been quiet for a while now. Why did he have to come back?
“I understand. Alam ko naman na nasaktan kita noon eh. I just really need to see you. I can pick you up if you want me to.”
Honestly, I was afraid he would rob me of my peace again. It was something I moved mountains to get back. After what felt like a lifetime but in reality was just ten seconds, I lied about an early meeting in the morning. I knew he knew I was lying. He was always good at spotting that. I suppose he understood why I wasn’t jumping out of bed at his invitation as he didn’t push the topic any further.
When the call ended, I felt the room blur away. Damn how he still had so much power over me, after I thought I was finally strong again. After I thought I was over everything that happened between us.
He was my one great love. When no one else understood me, he was busy writing my instruction manual. I felt like nothing could shake us. I was wrong. I didn’t believe it was possible to wake up one day and not be in love anymore but it happened to us, or rather to him and I was forced to live the rest of my life without the one man I had leaned on for so long.
The next night, he called from another unknown number. This time, he said he was in the area and offered to drop by for a quick talk. He seemed adamant to see me in the way he spoke. I was just about to give in when my logical side prevailed.
“I don’t want to see you.” I said as I put the phone down.
On the third night, he contacted me from yet another unknown number. This time, it was a text message. Car broke down. Few blocks from ur place. Jumpstart? I ignored it and five minutes later, he called.
“Please,” he begged. “I just really need to see you. Just give me five minutes. Five minutes of your time. I promise I won’t try anything funny.” Truth is, I had been weakened by his persistence. The offer was very tempting. If it was just a booty call, I really had nothing to lose. This man knows my entire body. He knows where to touch me. Whenever we did it, I felt like a dummy and he, my very willing puppet master. I was just about to say yes when he broke the silence.
“I’m sorry I even asked,” he said, with goodbye in his tone. “‘Tang ina naman, minsan ang kitid talaga ng utak mo. I won’t bother you again.” The line clicked, the call ended and my tears fell like curtains closing on the final act.
On the fourth night, on what would’ve been our sixth anniversary had he not left, he called again. He sounded drunk, high or possibly both.
“I’m sorry about everything. I know you never want to see me again but I just need to tell you something. Something important.” He was sobbing and soon, it became pretty hard to understand him. “I’m in my car now. Please, just meet me outside your house. Please.”
He was driving. I could hear buses and other city sounds whenever he paused. I feared for his life. He shouldn’t have been driving in such a drunken state.
“Sure.” I said meekly, my voice too weak for its own good.
Ten minutes later, he was knocking on my door. When I opened it, he pushed me against the wall and kissed me ferociously. His lips tasted like brandy and saline. Damn it, he still knew how to touch me. He traveled from my lips to my neck until he reached my chest. He clumsily unbuttoned my shirt, all the while kissing me all over. I could feel him getting hard as he pushed me harder against the wall. Like a whirlwind of things unsaid, of feelings pushed under the rug, we made our way to the bedroom. In our wake, we left vases and plates smashed to pieces on the ground.
We fucked with a passion I didn’t know we could have. I was sore in seven different places but it was all worth it. As we retired to sleep, I crept up to his side of the bed.
“I have loved you for years, here in the dark where no one can call it wrong. Thank you for finding me again.” I whispered in his ear.
He turned around and looked me in the eye. His expression was vacant but I could tell his thoughts had become pregnant.
“I wish I could still tell you I feel the same way but I can’t.” Each word he said crushed me into pieces too small for the human eye to see. Tears started welling up and before the first one could fall, I turned around and wept in silence.
In the morning, the space beside me was empty. I checked my phone. It had fourteen new messages. Must’ve been a hell of a night. I scrolled down until I saw his name.
Thank you for everything. Four very simple words. I shouldn’t be surprised. He’s always had a way with economizing emotions, distilling them so that I only got the simplest form. In my head, I was drafting a reply. Should I be equally nonchalant or should I be honest? Would either one bring him back?
Just then, the front door opened and I realized I let my mind run wild again. “Good morning,” he said, reeking of cigarettes and with sleep in his eyes. I felt stupid for all the things I thought about just moments ago. I walked over to him and kissed him softly.
“Do you want coffee?” I asked.
“Yes, please.” he said as he went back to the bedroom. I hurried to the kitchen and pulled the good china out of the cupboard. My hands shook as I boiled some water and readied the sugar and milk. I couldn’t wait to see him again, couldn’t bear another second without him right there. I clumsily stirred instant coffee into the cup and set everything on a tray. My feet paced quickly back to the bedroom, drops of coffee and water marking my sudden path.
The room was as cold as ice despite the warm sunshine illuminating every inch of space. The bed was made and he was gone. Somehow, I knew I would never see him again. The phone rang but I let the machine get it. My mind was busy preserving details of our last night together.
“It’s X,” the woman on the phone began. “I’m afraid I have some bad news.”
One by one, the objects in the room faded away. Dizzy, I sat quietly on the bed. I could still smell his perfume on my sheets. Maybe if I blocked out the sound of the machine, the woman’s words would be untrue. Surely, he was here. He was in my bed last night and in the living room this morning. In my mind, I could still hear what he said to me before we went to sleep.
“I wish I could still tell you I feel the same way but I can’t.”
It was only then that I fully understood what he meant to say. I stared blankly at the two cups sitting quietly on the tray. One had coffee that seemed too dark, the center still swirling to an unknown beat. The other just had water, like an unfinished story with nobody left to write it. From inside the kitchen, the radio began to play.
Though I’m baptized by your touch, I am no worse at most. I’m in love with your ghost.
Photo Credit: rockstarxqtr2
Ghost (Demo Version)