#120 Missed Connections

by Nikki Vega

He tickled my name with his tongue, thrust his own into the receiver, and at that ran out of script. The pause swelled. I had no help to offer: no bells were rung, my pillow’s appeal stood unrivalled. I was re-descending into slumber, dodging his dusty trivialities, when the picture started coming into focus: Dovey’s almost rained-out picnic, a rhymed toast harbouring poetry recital ambitions. I mumbled an acknowledgement, a non-committal signal of attention being paid. Excuses for sharing time and space unfolded over the ether. His intonations suggested a belief that the body I inhabited had room for two.

His confidence peeled off in places, revealing a core of bashful inexperience. He groped for excitement, which wasn’t there, triggered relief instead by a welcome mistake. Last I’d been yanked out of my merciful morningly oblivion by unsolicited vibration, it was yet another black-veiled, Xanax-drenched affair coming up, Aunt Linda’s turn to clutch forearms indiscriminately in futile attempts to dispel despair. I’d been the clutcher earlier, I knew the score. Satin-lined boxes gave nothing back. Time was a witch’s potion. The remedy of adaptation relied on a faulty definition of survival.

Vestiges of my take at life were beholding me: letters penned on paper, an oil on canvas of us two, sprigs rooted in the ashes, crowned with crimson blossoms. The rest of the world was an optical illusion. I stretched a no into a palatable utterance, adjusted my armour, and plunged into another day of pretending to breathe.

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