The phone rang, it sounded shrill and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I did not want to answer the damn thing, did not want to hear anyone ask how I was, or what was happening in my world. Sometimes they would call and not say a word beside hello, expecting me to spill everything to them. I would wait for them to share something about their world, breakfast or the color of the sky and instead they would wait and when I would sigh they would say “How’s everything going?” Someday’s that would launch me into my pain of micromanaging every little thing in my world. The dripping in the bathroom tub, the chill under my bare feet, the sound of my husband who was angry. I would go off on my tirade of woes, the aching back, the stomach that churns, the lack of solid sleep in my 300 thread count bed. They just made mewing noises or worse, it was so silent I thought the call had dropped. “Are you still there?” I would ask and they would answer “Yes.” Then the silence again. Gosh how I hated that. I would hang up feeling mad at myself for complaining again, when I had clearly made a pact with myself for this new year that if I couldn’t say something positive, I wanted to remain silent.
The snow is white and cold and I am sitting at the french doors looking out as the phone is ringing and ringing and ringing off the hook. What if something is really wrong? What if my Dad fell, or the mortgage wasn’t paid? I pick up the phone and say hello and the voice on the other end asks how I am? I need a damn Private sign that I can hang on my phone when I want to be left to my own thoughts. Some days I just want to be left alone. “Fine, how are you?” I ask a little shorter than is called for. “Is everything okay?” she asks, “Yes, is everything okay with you?” Silence, “Everything is fine.” The ice falls sharp and loud off of the roof and the sunlight is illuminating the water dripping down from broken gutters and I am endlessly tired. “I am sorry, I am irritable today. If everything is good with you I am going to go now.”
“Sure, I just care about you.”
“I know, have a good day.”
Private thoughts that are best not spoken are carrying on their conversation in my head. The sounds of church bells ringing in my ears I lay down upon my 300 thread count sheets and turn off the ringer.