“I mean, seriously, who answers a text message while they’re having sex?”
My roommate and sort-of friend, Marvin, is here with me. He’s not trying to stop me from doing it, but he is trying to comprehend. To him, my story seems more humorous than tragic. He doesn’t see the implications.
“Kelly isn’t even too mad about it,” Marvin says. “She’s not leaving you. Isn’t that what you said?”
“No, she’s not.”
“Then what’s the big deal?”
“I can’t put it into words. It’s just got to go.”
He stops talking now and stares down the precipice with me. It has taken us nearly an hour to reach the top, but here we are. I’ll give him credit, he has stayed with me the whole way—and it’s pretty stinking hot up here. Not only that, but midterms are next week. Both of us have plenty of work we could be doing right now instead of standing up here, waiting to see if I’ll actually do it.
Still, though, I’ve gained some respect for him. Nick didn’t bother to come, said there was no way I’d go through with it. And none of us has seen Ricky since Friday. He probably isn’t even on campus this weekend.
“Come on, man. Do it or don’t.”
“Don’t rush me, man. Please. You can go if you want.”
My mind’s racing. Zipping and zagging around sharp corners like a rat in a laboratory maze. I can’t even keep up. There’s a thought of middle-school—getting my first cell phone, a flip—and then it’s back to last night with Kelly. She’s staring at me, mouth open, starting to cry and drying up faster than an outdoor basketball court on an August afternoon. I jump off and then I’m in the library, trying to do my damn chemistry homework and it just keeps buzzing and buzzing…and buzzing. Buzz, buzz. Buzz.
“Who was it, anyway?”
“Who was what?”
“Who was it that texted you last night that you couldn’t wait to answer?” He’s sort of laughing as he says this, and I try not to get mad. I might be laughing, too, if this were the only thing, the only time my cell phone intruded on my life and reminded me of my leash.
“I don’t even remember.”
He shakes his head and turns his face up towards the sky. His face is already getting red, and I’m sure mine is the same way. It’s amazing how sensitive our skin becomes when we spend so much time indoors, under artificial light, away from the sun.
“How old were you when you got your first cell phone?” I ask.
“Uh, twelve, thirteen maybe. I was in seventh grade.”
“Why do you ask?”
“We’ve been tied to these things for nearly ten years now. That’s crazy.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“And I slaved away in the back of a kitchen for an entire summer for this one.”
Marvin pulls his phone out of his pocket, punches at the screen a few times, and slides it back into safety. I’m still holding mine in my hand—it’s turned off—trying to decide its fate. Or my fate, really. I’m starting to get a headache.
Even though my phone is off, I can feel it buzzing.
Every couple of minutes.
Facebook, text message, email.
I wonder what I’m missing, what people have said about me or shared with me on Twitter over the past two hours.
“I just want it gone!”
“Then do it, Jay. No one’s stopping you.” He laughs again and slips his phone out of his pocket. This time he doesn’t do anything with it, just stares at the screen for a few seconds and then drops it back in his pants.
“Something’s stopping me.”
“And what is that?”
“I don’t know!”
“Can you turn your phone off, please? If I’m going to do this, I need you to turn your phone off.”
“It’s on silent, man.”
“But I can hear it buzzing.”
“Can you? How? It hasn’t buzzed. Not once.”
My palm is sweating even more than the rest of me. It’s starting to hurt, too. From gripping my phone so hard.
“Just let it go.”
“Yeah man, that’s what you came here to do. Go for it.”
First phone. Interrupted sex. Crying, pinching, yelling, screaming. Buzz.
I’m sorry. I’ll put it down, please.
Basketball court in August.
Leave, now. I’ll text you later.
“Let’s go back down.”
“You’re not going to do it?”
“No. Not today. I’ll come back up tomorrow morning, before my nine o’clock.”
Marvin pulls out his phone and checks the screen. Puts it back.
We start walking down and I turn mine on. Holding it in my left hand and shaking out my right I can almost feel my anticipation as a tangible thing.
The gray apple.
And then they start flooding in.
Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz.
Mom, Ricky, Kelly, email, Twitter, Facebook, Luke, Kelly, email.