I’m lonely in the house. And the phone is ringing. Ring, ring, ring, ring... I tell it to stop.
“Stop,” I say, but it doesn’t stop ringing.
I’m lonely in the house and the phone is ringing and I want it to stop. I’m standing over it now, probing it with my gaze... stop stop stop. Futile. I try again, stop stop stop OUT OUT OUT, you demon rings. I wield some spiritual power and I cast them away, go go GO.
Ring ring ring. Failed exorcism. I yank the phone from its mount. Ring ring ring. Then I wring it. Ha ha, wring wring wring. I grip it in two hands and twist it and my palms and my fingers dig into the plastic. Ring ring ring.
I feel it soften now. The phone melts and molds as I’m wringing it. The phone begins to drip. Ring, drip drip, ring wring, drip. I wring out calls: Mrs. Raley with my failed math test, practice your times tables and the doctor with his test results, don’t know how much time she has. And I wring out voicemails: my brother waiting at school, why don’t you come pick me up and Aunt May at the funeral home, come pick out the flowers.
The voicemails clog the holes in the phone’s speaker, so I wring harder until they all ooze out onto the carpet, dripping and oozing and seeping into the beige carpet. Mom will be mad because I’m staining the carpet. Warm like clay, the phone has molded to my fingers, and I think I’ve wrung everything out. But then there’s a weak r... in... g. I squeeze tight tight tighter till I think my knuckles will break skin, and then three or four drops - drip, drop drop - collect to fall from the mouth of the phone, drooling missed calls. They’re useless and forgotten, like the silence between beep and voice message.
Then it’s dry. Wrung dry and warm like clay, it hardens now. Mom will be mad because I broke the phone and stained the carpet. I watch the puddle I made seep down into the carpet and into the floorboards - a black neglected ink stain. It’s nearly dry now and the carpet fibers have sopped it all up, except one droplet that I spot at my foot.
It whispers and I bend down to hear it. It’s Gwendolyn Brooks and her muffled but mellifluous voice is: “You are with you…” She begins to say something else but fades to a dull quiet.
Dull, happy quiet.
And then I’m alone in the house. Like a crisp red round little apple, this quiet is just for me. And I’m alone in the house.