Remember when you would wake up and reach for your mobile ‘phone and find that loving and uplifting message that I had sent you? I always rose before you and ensured that a delicious, tantalising text was sent to you ready for when you woke. Like a morning cup of tea on your night stand it was that little gesture which made you feel special. It told you that the first thing that I thought of when I woke up was you. This message of love, desire, passion and excitement would provide you with the first buzz of the day, a delicious reminder of how wonderful I am and how marvellous we are together. The first text of the deluge that would follow throughout the day, scores of little gift-wrapped presents which you open and smile, laugh and melt over. Little did you realise that these messages had been recycled from your predecessor and would be used again for your replacement. Little did you also realise that two other people were receiving these messages first thing in the morning.
Now there is nothing. There is no chime of that early morning text. There is no winking light denoting the text waiting for you to open it. It is silence. As your eyes open, the conditioning that I caused makes you immediately remember how you used to feel when that text arrived. Where once you woke with excitement in your stomach now it is just the sharp stab of pain as you know there is nothing waiting for you. You understand this is how it should be, the need to stay away from me, but it hurts. It hurts so much and how long will this pain remain with you? Will it ever go away? Those months of daily morning texts has ingrained a pattern and a longing inside you and no matter how hard you try the first thought of your day is always “Four months ago he was still sending me those wonderful texts.” Last month it was the same sentence only it began with three. You roll on to your back and though you know you shouldn’t, you cannot help but allow me into your mind even further as you recall those mornings where we ended up late for work because of our passionate love-making. That quick dart to the en suite and then back into bed where I was waiting for you. You turn and look at the empty pillow and that all too familiar bitter sweet sensation sweeps across you. You know you should not do this. You know you ought not to seek refuge amongst the ghosts of once what was, but it makes the pain lessen, just for a while and it is just a memory isn’t it, thinking about me just the one time cannot do any harm can it?
Just the one time. You give a twisted smile at that sentence which has somehow become your daily mantra as you struggle to escape the toxins that I have left inside you, the legacy of my oh so effective seduction and poisoning of you. Just the one time you check on my tweets and who is following me and who I am following. Just the one time you parked near where I lived and watched slumped in your driver’s seat to see who might appear at my door. Just the one time you sent a friend to watch me at an event you knew I would be attending and to report back on what she saw.
Just the one time you re-read the e-mails I sent you. It was just the one time for them all and more, well one time a week then one time a day, but I dont know what you are doing do I, so where is the harm? Just the one time you return to my Facebook profile, scouring it, looking for clues like some desperate detective intent on tracking down the prolific killer. You check what I have liked, a picture here, a comment there, some meme about relationships which could be a dig at you but you are not sure. Any trace of you has been erased from my profile, gone are the messages, the comments and the pictures. Somebody else is there now, although there is some ambiguity. A red-headed woman appears in several pictures, laughing with me. You see one where her arms are draped around my shoulders and you feel the burning jealousy and anger and curse both you and I for this feeling.
You fling your tablet to one side, muttering under your breath, just the one look having derailed your day before it has begun and vow not to look again. But you will. Just one look. A journey through the carousel of pictures, checking fingers to see if rings have appeared on them, of both me (it would be awful to see that ring on my wedding finger, something I always denied you) and of the women I pose with (it makes you feel sort of better if they wear a ring, that means that they won’t be with me, doesn’t it?)
You skulk amongst my twitter posts and return to my profile on my work website, reading the biography which you know off by heart. Your fingers rest on my profile picture as you see again the tie which you bought me for that particular photo shoot. Some days you wish it would be updated and then others days this once look makes you feel that perhaps I do not hate you, how can I if I still allow this picture to remain?
You try not to think about me but somehow your mind just wanders there of its own volition, snaking through a thousand memories that spring up each day. Perhaps you will stay awhile amidst them, just the once minute of remembering. At the weekend you drove out to the forest path we used to amble along during sunny September mornings. Nobody else was ever there. Just you and I. You walked that path again, it was just the one time you needed to do it, to converse with the ghost of my presence as you found yourself talking aloud to me as if I was still walking beside you, holding your hand. It was meant to be just the one time but you have returned three times since, each time swearing that this time is when you exorcise those spectres.
What am I doing now? No doubt getting ready for work, perhaps showering and singing away as I once did in the shower we shared. Am I with somebody? Is somebody preparing breakfast for me or reclining in bed waiting for me to return to the bedroom towel draped about me? It seems so long since you have heard from me and so much remains unanswered, unsaid and unresolved. How would I react if you rang me? You cannot bring yourself to delete my number, just in case there was that one final conversation which could take place and put so many issues to bed, slay so many demons and close so many doors. That would be all that it would take surely? Just the one conversation. Keep it business like, keep your emotions in check but just to get some answers so you can move on. Surely that is owed to you?
You wonder whether I would answer if you rang me? How would I react if I saw your number on the display? You doubt I have blocked you, why would I do that? Your fingers toy with your phone, you need to know, just the once, just to make the hurt go away. You find my name. You want to hear my voice again, talk and no more but you feel anxious and the trepidation crawls over you. You need to know. You need the answers.
What about ringing me and then stopping before I answer to see if I call back? Yes, that is a good idea, that would then show that I do want to talk to you, without the fear of having me hang up on you. That’s it. You will telephone me again after these months of nothing and let it ring and then this ever present agony can be eased. The questions can be answered when I call you back.
You will not melt into my arms again. No, you are going to resist those sweet charms because you know what lies behind them. You have earned your stripes in that regard but you need to have this conversation, for yourself. You need to know I will talk to you. A text message isn’t immediate enough. I might not see it for some time or delay in replying, but a missed call, that brings a potential for urgency and immediacy and I am bound to respond to that aren’t I.
You will call me.
You will call and let it ring.
Just the one time….
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