In response to the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Island
I had no choice, I really didn’t, so in the end, I called him.
I had been sleeping in fits and starts for the past week. When I was fortunate enough to stumble into sleep, fueled by sheer exhaustion from heaving and wailing the entire day, I’d wake with a jolt, trying to remember what day it was and where I was. Those few seconds of disorientation were bliss. The corners of my lips would start to lift to greet the morning, then, my brain would catch up, and everything from the day before and the prospect of the days ahead would crash around me.
I could’ve called my best friend again but she was so far away. The phone calls were expensive for the both of us. Our last conversation, she spoke to me in hushed tones, as if to raise her voice any louder than a whisper would break what was still left unbroken in me. She needn’t have worried; there were no whole pieces left. I told her I was feeling a little bit better. She believed me. She could never tell when I lied.
Even as I pressed the numbers on my phone, I knew I was making a mistake, and that the likelihood this phone call would end well, was zero. I went ahead anyway. Sometimes I think, I hurt myself more than anyone else could.
I let the phone ring. Once, twice, five times. Finally, he picked up.
“Mia,” he said, his tone exasperated. I didn’t even warrant a hello. “Why are you calling?” No preamble.
His words a punch to my chest. I took a deep breath. “I don’t know who else to call.” I didn’t want to sound lame, weak, but I was all of that.
“What do you want?” His question, sharp.
You, I wanted to reply. Instead I said, “Can we work this out? Can we find a way to get back together? I’m lost.” This wasn’t why I called. I didn’t want to beg but my mouth had other intentions.
“No. I’ve made up my mind.” Before I could interject, he continued “Do you want to know how I know that this was the right decision to make? Because I don’t feel anything. I don’t feel sad, happy, relieved. Nothing.”
I don’t know how many times one person can die, but I think I died a million deaths in those few seconds. Hang up; I told myself, hang up, for goodness sake!
Through the phone, I could hear the rushing of wind, as if he was in a car with the top down, driving down a coastal highway. “Where exactly are you?” I asked. I heard a harsh intake of breath.
“No.” he bit out. No? I felt the hairs at the back of my neck rise and so I brazened it out. “Where. Are. You?” I spat the words out. I knew was going to regret asking. My regrets were already piling up, what’s one more.
“Maldives.” He answered.
My body started to shake and my grip on the phone grew tighter. I stammered, “Ma-Ma-Maldives?”
“Hey,” he said, as he grabbed my hand and pulled me beside him, the lines of our bodies flushed against one another. “Let’s make a reservation at the Kuda Huraa Reef Resort in the Maldives!” “The Kuda Hu-what-a Resort?” I asked. Silly boy, I thought, but my cheeks were aching from the hours we’d spent laughing. “The Kuda Huraa Reef Resort. You should see their website. There are chalets surrounded by crystal clear water and they’re far enough apart that it’s totally private. It’s so cool!” “Okay.” I replied. I was caught up in his enthusiasm. “What dates should we give them?” my hands hovered above the keyboard, playing along. I looked at his profile, and my heart melted a little. He looked off into the distance, scrunching his forehead then he turned to look at me “What about 10 years from now?” “Errr…okay? Why 10 years?” I asked casually as I typed in the dates. His voice was steady and matter of fact as he replied, “Well, we’ll be done with uni in 3 years. Then we’ll start working. Of course, we’ll be living together by then. In 10 years, we’ll both be 32 and ready to start a family so that’s when we’ll get married and I’ll whisk you off to the Maldives just in time for our pre-booked vacation!” His gaze bore into me. I’d stopped typing by then, my mouth wide open. My eyes round like saucers. “Um…” I didn’t know what to think. It seemed he’d thought about this a whole lot and this was only our first date! I was beginning to freak out. Then, he leaned towards me and pressed his mouth to mine and said, “I can’t wait for our honeymoon, babe.” And before you knew it, we had a booking in the Kuda Huraa Reef Resort, Maldives for the summer of 2013.
That memory that was one of my most cherished ones felt so bitter now. “Mia? You still there? Mia?” I heard his voice as if through a long tunnel.
I’d moved to my bed, lying on my side, cradling the phone. I tasted salt water on my lips. “Yeah…” I felt hollow. The space inside me a canyon, so cavernous that nothing could possibly fill it up.
Then I heard other voices in the background around him. Is that her? A female voice asked. I heard my once-beloved said “Shhhh…”
“Mia? I’ll talk to you when I get back, yeah?”
He was in the Maldives. With another woman. We’d had so many conversations about Maldives since the night we made the reservations. “Do you think the resort has diving classes?” “Do you think 2 weeks would be enough?” When right that moment, as he was speaking to me, he was there, the place that was a beautiful promise, with someone else.
This is a dream, this is a dream, I chanted to myself. “Mia? We’ll talk when I get back, all right? Mia? Mia?”
I quietly placed the phone back in its cradle. From my bed, I gazed out the window, staring at empty branches. He was on an island. Right that very moment, so was I.