By Shome Dasgupta
“This is your final warning. The warranty for your automobile will expire, and there is due attent—”
“Hello—hello. Hello. Please, hello.”
He heard the phone disconnect, and he looked around his room—bare, empty—deserted.
Silence—just silence. He waited. There was no weather. There was no time. There was no one—there was no language. There was no world. He waited.
“This is your fin—.”
“Hi. Hello. I’m here—I’m here. Please don’t go.”
There was more of nothing.
On his bed crouched forward with his elbows on his knees, a head to the dust of the wooden floors, as if there was a prayer. More time or nothing—four walls, a creation of hollow samples of strangled lines. A day upon a day, he felt a torment. On the table, just even with a pillow without dents or creases, set a container of aloe lotion, a brush, and sparkling watch. Every now and then, he almost turned his head toward the other side—the side that was no longer there.
“Hi—hi. Yes. I’m here.”
“This is to inform you that there’s a lawsuit pending against—.”
“That’s wonderful. What should I do? It would be my pleasure.”
“—action is required.”
“Please. I’m here. Please don’t.”
He said this, only to a click.
Indeed, there was hope.
“Greetings. We’re calling to let you know that your house and all of your assets have been repossessed due to recent acquisitions. Be advised that—.”
“Yes. Who is this? I am here. I can talk. Please talk to me. I have no one to talk to—I’m here.”
“Any disputes can be claimed through your local—.”
“Take my hand, dear.”
Another ended call—a one way conversation, and he again was in his room, stuck with the echoes of his own mind. He couldn’t turn around. On his own side of the bed, on the table, an empty glass—there for as long as the blanket never moved. There, for as long as a toothbrush remained still every morning and every night.
This was it. This will be it, he thought, as the back of his neck was rigid, aching. It was ringing, but he dropped it—falling, he scrambled on the floor, picking up the phone, like an aged map for treasure, lost for a million years only to be found tucked in the dresser drawer of an abandoned home hidden in the ruins of nowhere.
A different sound—a different tone every time, and every time, he wished for it to be someone, anyone, to say hello—to talk about the day.
“Hi. How are you doing? What would you like for breakfast?”
“I’m—and I’m here to let you know—.”
“Would you like to go to the garden today?”
“It is too late to take any—.”
“How about we go out for dinner, dear.”
“If any matter arises, contact us—.”
“The bees are outside again.”
“This is your final notice—.”
And that was it, and there was nothing else. That was the last time—he threw his phone against the wall, cracked and splintered. He picked it up and threw it again—again and again and again. There were no signs of communication, and as he gathered his thoughts and turned around, he looked at the far side of the bed—a still life so it appeared.
He walked there and went under the cover—cold and tight, and he lay on his side, looking at the sparkling watch and the aloe cream next to it. He lay there and put his thumb in his mouth and closed his eyes, dreaming of a conversation that could never happen.
“I miss your voice.”
* * *
Shome Dasgupta is the author of nine books, including The Seagull And The Urn (HarperCollins India) and most recently, Spectacles (Word West Press), and a poetry collection, Iron Oxide (Assure Press). Forthcoming novels include Cirrus Stratus (Spuyten Duyvil) and Tentacles Numbing (Thirty West Publishing House). His writing has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Hobart, New Orleans Review, American Book Review, New Delta Review, X-R-A-Y, Magma Poetry, and elsewhere. He is the series editor of the Wigleaf Top 50. He lives in Lafayette, LA and can be found at www.shomedome.com and @laughingyeti.