When she calls him up, he is in the bedroom reading The Catcher in the Rye because he has a thing for nostalgia. Her name on his phone is long and hyphenated. He won't say "at last," but he'll think it. He ignores the temptation to think twice. He picks up. He is up for it.
“How ya doin’?”
“I’m good. Good. You?”
It is no prize-winning conversation but it is normal. It helps that he loves her voice. He scoots down the bed and slides down its height, plopping Indian-style onto the wood floor so that he is not too comfortable. Scratches at the remnants of a sticky paper label on an old Poland Spring bottle. Their conversation is quiet now.
“So I’m calling you.”
“Yes. You are. Hi.”
“I take it you're home?”
“Just rolled in yesterday, yeah.”
She wants to meet up – it is obvious. Why she doesn’t just come out with it was always the issue. Skirting around stuff was her favorite diversion. It used to wind him up. In this moment though, he finds it kind of darling. He can hear her girl-music playing faintly in the background. He bets she is pacing. Wonders what she is wearing.
When they dated, they were afraid of the dark together. Ghosts, vampires, monsters, disfigured children, sex-crazed burglars – anyone or thing that could catch them by surprise in their underwear was something they both could agree was just horrible. Camping was always out of the question and they had special night-lights that would be left on while they slept. They would hug each other close under the weight of their blanket before drifting off into simultaneous nightmares.
"How're you sleeping these days?"
"Lights on. Clothed."
Okay, he is over her. He decides it this second. He is simple in this way. Loves her but in another way. Loves her like he loves old fishing poles. Vintage, bamboo ones.