Okay, I admit it, there may be some fiction imitating life here. At least for me anyway.


In Silence There is Truth

The sound of my cell phone ringing makes me pause and I turn to look at it with a feeling of hesitation. I do not want to talk on the phone right now. But then I see the name and picture displayed on the screen and I realize that I should pick it up. You are calling me and you will wonder why I didn't answer.

"Hello," I say as I tuck the phone between my ear and my shoulder and continue with my task of sorting through pictures on my computer.

"Hey there," you say cheerfully, "what's up with you today?"

"Not much."

You pause for a moment but your reply is still just as cheery as before. "Well, I guess that nothing happening is better than something going wrong."

I sigh wistfully and realize you are right. "I guess so," I say. "But it just gets so boring sometimes since you aren't here to fill in the lulls."

Your chuckle fills the line and it makes me smile. I have missed your laugh.

"I am working on coming back to visit again soon," you say. "But it will be a bit before I have enough money."

"I know," I reply. "I have been trying to scrape together some money of my own to come out to see you sometime. But it is a slow process."

"Yeah, I hear you there," you say, the chuckle coming back again. "You got any plans for tonight?"

I am not sure on how to answer the question but I do not want you to worry.

"Not much," I say trying to keep it vague. "Not really in the mood to do anything."

"Nothing at all?"

"Not nothing," I say. "Just not a lot." I feel the discomfort settling in and so I hasten to change the subject. "Anything exciting happen to you since we talked last?"

That question seems to smooth over the jump in subject and you transition beautifully. You settle into a long description about your most recent adventures, sound effects included, and I happily sit back and listen. You tell me of all the places you visited, people you met, things you did, and lessons you learned, and suddenly I find that tears have started to form in my eyes and I hastily rub them away.

You pause in your animated descriptions and I realize that you are asking me a question.

"Is everything all right?"

I nod and then remember that you can't see it over the phone. "Yeah," I say. "I'm fine. Why do you ask?"

"You don't seem fine."

"I'm okay," I say. "It's just been a long day today."

"Just tell me what's eating at you."

I can tell that you are unwilling to just let this go and I cringe at the thought of having to face it.

"I know you are stressed out," you continue. "I can hear it."

I know that my voice has been calm and poised throughout the conversation. As far as I know there have been no cues that would have alerted you to the stress that has been building lately.

"And where did you hear it?" I ask suddenly feeling defensive but, surprisingly, my tone somehow stays neutral, casual. "What makes you so sure that I am stressed out?"

"Silence," you say and I am confused.

"What?"

"I listened to the silence," you say. "Every other conversation we have had we have always talked about what we have done and what we plan to do. Both subjects seem to make you clam up today. Silence where there should be conversation is what told me that you are not yourself. Sometimes we want to hide it from others and so we don't say anything, but silence can sometimes say just as much as words. Words can try to cover things over but in silence there is truth."

The tears are coming back again and now I am having a harder time holding them back. I know you are right. I am stressed out but I do not want to tell you because I know you will laugh. It is such a stupid reason and I am embarrassed to even think about telling you.

"It's stupid," I say simply. "I will get over it by tomorrow."

"Friends are the kind of people who are there for you in your troubles," you encourage. "Even the stupid ones."

"You'll laugh."

"Will not."

I sigh and realize something what should have been obvious a long time ago.

"You're not going to let this go are you?"

"Friends don't let friends stress out," you say. "Especially for stupid reasons."

There is no other option left now and so I just allow myself to give in.

"I have been going through pictures," I say. "And there are so many of just me and you. And today I suddenly got in the worst kind of mood to just plop myself down on the couch, surround myself with munchies, and watch a movie with you at my side. I want so badly to hear you ask questions about the parts of the plot that you missed because you were talking through it, or I was. I want to hear you laugh at the funny parts. I want to throw popcorn at each other and I want to fall asleep halfway through the movie only to wake up and realize that you have done the same and we have been drooling on each other for the last hour."

I stop as the emotion bubbles up again and threatens to crack my voice. I listen to the silence on the other end of the line and I wait for the laughter that I know is coming.

It never does.

"You have just described my problem of the day," you say with a sniffle. "I was feeling the exact same way and that is why I called you just now."

I am stunned and relieved all at the same time.

"What do we do?" I ask.

"What else?" you say. "There is only one thing that we can do now."

And so, ten minutes later, I am happily snuggling down under a blanket and arranging munchies around me while the movie begins to play on the television. Beside me on the couch is my cell phone and your voice is drifting out of the speaker phone telling me to explain the events on screen to you as they happen.

I laugh since I know that you have seen this movie countless times before, but I agree to it regardless. I have always wanted to work on my descriptive speech skills anyway.


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