The smartphone vibrated on the table, face-down while plugged in to its cable. The cable was plugged into the kitchen counter so when it vibrated, the cable didn’t jiggle along with the apparatus. But it moved slightly to the right when the phone fidgeted on the counter.
David was getting a snack from the pantry upon hearing this. He thought it was a text or someone on Messenger, but somewhere knew someone. He slammed the door and swiftly walked over to the counter, unplugging the phone and turning its screen around. He started to feel the sensation on his hands instead of his ears.
All the contacts that David remember were on his phone and in the jar with their name beautifully scrawled on scraps of paper. One concise look at the first few digits was all it took to remember – simple yet sophisticated. It worked most of the time. This was one of those moments that he didn’t remember, where he asked politely for their names. And if he didn’t remember them, then he would ask more personal questions and try to think deeply.
He answered the request and rose his right hand, which held the phone, to his right ear.
“Hello?” David began to utter. He appeared to project a kind of anxiety to the receiver, regardless of how he felt then. He then inhaled and exhaled greatly within the course of five to seven seconds.
“Hey.” A boyish voice echoed back to David. From what the former could tell, the voice sounded a lot like a teenager or a man. The voice sounded so familiar. The thought hit the roof of his mouth and transmitted that neurochemical in the synapses, but failed to trigger anything. “How are you doing?”
He simply couldn’t remember.
“Umm, who is this?” David asked, hesitantly.
“Ohh!” He remembered. “Haven’t heard from you in a while. How are you?”
“Oh no,” Kaylon said. “I tried to call you, but you didn’t answer. I left some voicemails.”
David clicked his tongue in realization. “I must’ve deleted them. I don’t read most voicemails anymore.”
“K.” Then, a few seconds passed. “Oh, I also wanted to ask you. Do you still live in Phoenix? It’s been so long ever since we last met.”
“Yeah,” David said. “Why are you asking? Are you planning to come over?”
“I just need more money.” Kaylon said.
“I could contribute, if you want to.”
“You should save up so you can go to college. There’s no point in raising money for me if you need the money for yourself.”
“I could work other shifts and get more money, I bet there are some opportunities that I can do here. I would like to help you.”
“Don’t waste it on me.”
David took in a deep breath. “Ok. May I ask why?”
“I just don’t want you to. College is more important than placing your money on me.”
A few seconds passed awkwardly. David walked out of the kitchen in his apartment and towards the couch, throwing his entire weight onto the cushions. “So, since you asked me if I am still living in Phoenix, can I ask you a question?” He asked, “Or a couple?”
“Yeah,” Kaylon said.
“Ok...” David said, taking in a couple of breaths.
A few more seconds passed. Kaylon was dead on the other line and David was gaining some motivation.
“So back in high school, you always laid down under this specific tree. Some days, I just stood from a distance to see how you were doing. So, who was that girl that started to sit or kneel next to you? Are you still in contact? And, last but not least, why were you under that tree?”
Kaylon was still silent. David assumed that something was on his mind, so he stopped and went.
“Hey, are you ok? Did I do something?”
After a minute or so, since David was not at all keeping track of the time, Kaylon responded in a lower voice rather than the borderline near-falsetto that he usually spoke in. “Do you really want to know?”
“I’ll only listen if you feel comfortable about it.” David answered. “I don’t really wish to push you. You don’t have to answer those questions if you feel like it.”
Kaylon inhaled softly, presumably through his nose, and then exhaled. “No, I haven’t told you and I really wanted to tell you. But do you want to know, David? Truly?”
The former became blunt. “Yes.”
Kaylon took a few seconds. “It’s a little hard to be in noisy places. And the high school we went to over in Phoenix was too much. So I went to the tree every day and listened to music and that habit was formed since the second quarter of freshman year. Then, the girl you saw noticed me laying there one day in the third quarter. Maybe August or September, I don’t exactly remember. But she asked if she could come over and lie down. And so I said yes. We didn’t really talk much, we just laid down there and relaxed. Then, a few weeks later, I asked for her name. She told me it was Sky.”
“Slowly, we started to bond. She was into anime and manga and there were some moments where she would rant on and on and I would have no clue what she said. That wasn’t the only thing we bonded over, however. We often listened to each other’s music, we talked about what we wanted to say, we helped each other out with homework. And there was this one time that I had the nerve to go over the cellular limit by watching an episode of One Piece, because she wanted to watch it. However, despite all this, the one thing that surprised me is that we were both introverted, had no fathers and loved music more than anything sometimes.”
“Are you adopted?” David asked.
Kaylon was dumbfounded, in a negative way. “What are yo- Oh, I used bad grammar. No, we aren’t adopted. Our fathers left us and we were raised by a single mother.”
“Oh,” David replied, “Please continue, then. I’m sorry for not understanding what you meant.”
“It’s fine,” Kaylon reassured, “I usually screw up the grammar accidentally. Anyway, we grew to become best friends, even closer than friends. More like siblings from different mothers. And this was around the time I met you, when you invited me over to your house for some sleepovers and to play games and we talked about the future. With her, everything was in the moment and after four years, we knew each other like we switched lives.”
“So, what happened?” David asked, “Is she your girlfriend now or something? Like, what happened?”
“If I could sum it up in a sentence,” Kaylon let out a sharp exhale. “I fucked up big time.”
“How?” David said, “Like the ‘I dropped a wineglass’ situation or ‘I gave someone AIDS’ situation?”
Kaylon chuckled. “No. More like ‘the possible friend-zone that makes you want to go drink a Budweiser and fuck a cougar to distract yourself’ situation.”
David’s expression instantly froze. His brain seemingly rebooted after that sentence and, even though it was a couple of offensive words, the subtext behind it reigned supreme and was unpalatable to swallow. “Now, I’m worried. What happened?”
Kaylon stopped for a few seconds then continued. “After the graduation ceremony, me and Sky hung out for a couple of hours and we talked about which schools we were going to go and what we wanted to become. And then after that, when she had to go, I don’t know if it was a thought or a urge, but I kissed her on the cheek and ran towards the car.”
“This was graduation, right?”
“Yeah. And she hasn’t contacted me since. I don’t know if I did something wrong, I just don’t know anymore....”
“That sucks, man,” David said, “I really don’t know what to tell you other than the probabilities that she may be busy, she got a new phone or... something else. But, you know, at least she might still think about you. Have you ever thought about that?”
“That’s the problem! I don’t know what to think about it. I’m still so worked up by it. No matter how hard I try, it just keeps coming back every now and then. It just feels like I would just ask myself, ‘Why would I do that?’”
“K, here’s what I think. You showed your feelings. And it’s circumstances like this that, you know, just happen. Where you just say, ‘That’s that.’ What you did was unexpected, but I can’t tell you what she thought. Maybe she didn’t reciprocate romantic feelings for you. No one knows the future and I believe that something will happen, either good or bad. But for now, that’s in the past. Don’t think about it too much.”
“Yeah,” Kaylon said, “You’re right. What happened. Happened. Past memories.”
David returned to the kitchen and fetched himself a glass of water. Phone in right hand and ear, he outstretched his arm, gripped the frictious surface of the glass and tipped it over his lips. He steadily finished the dose within a couple of seconds and exhaled faintly. The glass let out a rough sound against the surface of the counter when David speedily brought his left arm down.
“Why did you do it?”