PICK UP THE PHONE
To answer the phone or not to answer the phone? I could not decide and yet the time was going to come when I would have to make a choice. I could only pick up my cell phone and stare at it in an attempt to make it ring. If it did ring and I answered it I would no doubt find out the truth. If I let it go unanswered then I would be letting go and moving on with my life. My bedroom walls were closing in on me as I sat in my chair staring at a TV screen. I kept changing the channels, but was so lost in my dilemma that it was an exercise in futility. It appeared nothing could free my mind from this psychological prison.
As I sat back in my slightly cracked leather chair and took a deep breath I could feel my entire body tense. The pressure was palpable and I was surrounded by a living space that had been turned into a shrine dedicated to one person. A smile crept across my face as I spun in my chair and absorbed the world I had created for myself. It seemed that if a reminder wasn’t on my body it was preserved in a time-locked capsule to make sure that moment in time was captured for all eternity.
I faced the window in my bedroom and looked down to my bed, which was overrun with inanimate objects that reminded me of Jillian. She had given me the navy blue bed sheets with carnation decorations that covered the twin-sized bed. The pillowcases matched the bed sheets and next to my pillows was a gift that had long outlived its initial usefulness. Snowflake was his name and he was a tiny white teddy bear given to me for a Valentine’s Day gift almost 3 years ago. It had been personalized with a black leather necklace with a pendant that spelled out Jillian’s name on it as well a see-through pair of undergarments. Snowflake made me feel comforted and safe and he even smelled like my Jillian. I swear I could smell Charlie Blue on any person because of how exposed I was to it every night. Not that I ever had any problems getting a good nights rest, but this bedspread always did the trick.
Getting up from my chair and laying on my freshly made bed, I closed my eyes and could still hear those words in my ear as if she was there on top of me whispering them into my ear. I always believed it was just the moment making her tell me she loved me, but that was always the allure of my Jillian. I never knew where she was coming from at any given moment. I opened my eyes and thought to myself how lucky I was to have a lock on my bedroom door. My father would not have approved of that kind of behavior.
The reminiscing was doing my heavy heart some good until I saw the picture frame face down on my desktop. It was no secret to the other people in my life that I was seeing Jillian, but they didn’t know the entire story. The picture frame was only open and standing when I was the only one in the room. I walked over to the frame and opened it up. The picture on the left side of the frame was my beautiful Jillian at her best. The picture to the right side of the frame was that of Junior, Jillian’s 7-year old son. It was always bittersweet looking into the eyes of a family that wasn’t my own. I was the world to one of them and a ghost to the other. Depending on my mood I could be found smiling at the sight of these pictures or crying.
I set the frame down and turned to face my door when I was struck with a happier memory. I could remember how corny I thought it would look in my room before I even did it. My friends for this one act would ridicule me, but it had to be done. I had never been given balloons as a gift before and I couldn’t just let them go by letting the air out and trashing them, so I did what any mentally challenged person would do for love. I deflated those balloons, framed them and hung them up on my door. One balloon read I Love You and the other had MI Amor embroidered on it. I couldn’t help but laugh at it because it wasn’t that long ago that my bedroom walls were covered in posters featuring bikini clad women. Now I had replaced them with balloons.
All this soul searching had me amazed at how the last three years of my life had come to be summed up by a room full of memories and one single phone call. I always had a feeling that it would all end badly because it was always going to come down to a simple question for Jillian. Him or me? He was there before me and had taken her down the aisle, but I was the one who made her feel like she was a princess. I didn’t know it was possible to hate someone I had never met, but I discovered anything is possible. I always gave Jillian the benefit of the doubt because of her family situation and I felt ashamed that I could not do more to be able to help her out of the life she had committed to long ago. But she never made it easy for me to think I was her number one choice. Feeling the necklace around my neck reminded me of that everyday.
The necklace had a pendant with a name on it and it read, "Cali." She would have been a year old this past week. I joked with myself that even a virgin could get lucky more than once on the first night. I did and the decision was made before I even knew it was a decision to make. I even helped Jillian pay for the procedure, but she wouldn’t let me go with her to get it done. I use to be able to tell myself that I can get through that kind of pain with her by my side, but as it turned out I was the only one going through any pain. For some reason, Jillian decided to come clean with me one day several months back and revealed to me that I was carrying a torch for a child that really never existed. But my love for Jillian wouldn’t let me simply turn my back to her. It altered my entire perception of reality and love.
My daydream ended immediately with the vibrations coming from my desk. It was my cell phone. Jillian had sent me a text message earlier in the day that she really need to talk with me and that it was important, but all this thinking had gotten to me. I was frozen and as the phone kept vibrating I could feel a tension leave my body as if I was finally letting go. She would never choose me no matter how long we keep this up. No matter what I did she would go home to him. Junior would always come before me. The phone stopped ringing. It was the first time I ever ignored her call. I didn’t feel any guilt or any need to call her right back. I had let go of my dream. Seconds later, I could hear tires squealing from a fast moving car right outside my house. I walked outside to see what the commotion was and was stopped cold by what was waiting for me at my front door. A dozen red roses and a bunch of balloons were on the ground and a tiny box was tied to the balloons. I picked up the box and opened it and revealed a platinum ring.
Was I wrong? Did Jillian finally choose me? With my mouth open I felt salty-water drip onto the ring in the box. What had I done?