October 30, 2010
(Originally created 11.30.06)
I watched my neighbor on our porch tonight. She didn’t know I was watching. I had gotten up from bed to see what the dog was muttering to herself about and looked through my front door’s spy hole. I don’t think it was my neighbor the dog heard, because she wasn’t talking. She had her phone to her ear, but she wasn’t saying anything. She held it there for about a minute, then closed it without a word. I wondered if she was just checking her voicemail or trying, unsuccessfully, to call someone.
Before she closed her phone, she burnt the tip of a cigarette and gave it a short pull. I wondered, now, who she was trying to call. After the call was over, she gave her square a longer pull. This one she brought back, deep inside her breath and, after a second’s pause, raised her chin and blew out a steady line of smoke. She looked back down at her phone… then took another drag… down to the phone…. another drag. Without ashing, she finished the entire cigarette in about two minutes and walked back into her apartment.
The phone didn’t ring. I can’t help but wonder who she called, who she was waiting to have a call from, and if they were the same person. I wonder if he’ll call her tonight at all. Did they have a fight? Did they just meet? Is it a secret? Maybe it was her best friend, or mother, or maybe just her voicemail turned into a timer to see how fast she could finish a smoke.
Who do you think of late at night? As you lie in bed, or stand on your porch in your pajamas with a smoke or drink in your hand, who is it that keeps you up or puts you to a calm sleep?
I imagine for anyone, it could be a number of people on any given night depending on what you have dealt with today, yesterday or last week; but those insignificant thoughts usually only stick with us for a moment before they are dumped in our stress trash. They don’t cause us to burn a square in record time. Those last images before you fall asleep, or feelings that make your heart beat faster and stomach turn upside down – those are usually reserved for individuals with significant persuasion of the heart.
I am sure my neighbor had thought about more than who was supposed to be on the other line, but all she cared about for those few minutes was whether he/she would pick up; then, whether her phone would ring anyway, even after they didn’t answer. I wonder how someone could cause her to call so late and smoke so nervously.
I would go to bed now, but I think I need a smoke.