I’ll start with a story I started after a huge fight with my ex-girlfriend:
The phone rang, and Gordon glanced at the caller ID box on the kitchen counter to verify what he already knew. It was Amy, calling for the fourth time today. The fourth time since he’d reached the end of his patience and told her what a bitch she was being.
Phones don’t really ring these days, he thought briefly, as he pulled a beer out of the fridge. They beep, or chirp, or whistle. Lots of phones sing, or at least sound out the notes of a song. When would language catch up to technology?
As the phone chirped a second time, he mentally poked at his anger, to see if it was still inflamed and sore. Goddamn it! Yep. Still mad. Still upset. He dug in the drawer for a bottle opener.
As the third and fourth beeps (tones?) announced themselves, he was weighing the benefit of talking to her and straightening this out, against the very real possibility that he might still be so angry that he would say or do something that might make things worse. There was also the possibility that doing nothing (like, say, not answering the phone) might make things worse. However, he was prepared to deal with the consequences of that action. He came to his decision (don’t pick up the phone, you’re not in control yet) just as it became a moot point; after the fourth ring, the call, and the woman he loved at the other end of the telespatial connection, routed off into voice mail.
He could almost hear the phone sigh out of frustration at not having made the connection. Why do you even have me, if you’re not going to use me when a call comes in? it seemed to ask.
As he poured his beer into a chilled pilsner glass (he was feeling classy), he reflected on the events leading up to today. She’d been in a bad mood all week, and he had been patient with her. They had gone out to dinner Wednesday night, but when he’d picked her up from work she had been very quiet and withdrawn. They had only been going out a few months, but he already knew that when she was quiet like that, it was better not to say anything. Frustrating, but at the time he’d swallowed his frustration. She had briefly mentioned that she wanted to go lay down for a while, so instead of going to the restaurant, he drove her to his apartment. She disappeared into the bedroom and he picked up a book he’d been reading and sat on the couch.
Was he being supportive? Or more of an enabler? He couldn’t decide which. He tried to put it out of his mind. A half-hour later, when she came out of the bedroom, he was surprised to see her in running gear rather than dinner clothes. “I need to exercise,” she’d announced flatly, and had promptly walked out the door. He stewed on the couch for a while, then had gone out to get a sandwich, which he displayed proudly on the coffee table, half-eaten, when she returned. They had fought over his impulsiveness but hadn’t come close to discussing her distance and need for solitude, which only fanned his frustration. They watched a movie in relative silence, he had tried offering her a snack or a beer or glass of wine halfway through, but she refused. They retired to bed early and did not have sex.
In the morning she had seemed in a better mood, but through the rest of the work week had returned to her distance and aloofness. At one point, when he had called her, she had mentioned that she had just gotten off the phone with a friend of hers who was going through a divorce. It was Gordon’s failing that he was always suspicious of his girlfriends’ male friends, despite their protests that it was just friendship, so the fact that Amy became upset and even more moody after talking to this particular male friend caught his attention. She had rushed him off the phone, claiming to be busy, and asked him to call her later that night. He had gone home, went to the gym, and then collapsed into bed, instead, which led to another angry phone call from her the next morning. Again, he’d swallowed his frustration.
It’s unfinished, and since the anger and frustration it grew out of has vanished, it’ll likely remain unfinished.