September 20, 2004


By Diane Roy

It was wonderful what the room told. 20 by 20 it grasped a blender still dirty, waiting to be washed, a basil plant dying and still waiting to be plucked. The roaches had claimed the frying pan from Williams-Sonoma still fervent with old fried egg. The mice had gingerly walked around the Calvin Klein sheets waiting to be washed. The only thing still alive was the answering machine. The little red light was flashing, rushing still and it was terrible what the room told. The room was neat and it's filth was only a day old, and like a vampire, it was trapped forever in this day. The answering machine was the only thing alive, waiting like an exasperated lover, waiting to be released from the duty of reliving that day, over and over and over, when Margaret would finally have the courage to come over. When she would get the spare key from Stephan's landlord. It was wonderful what the room told. The flowers had long died before the day and looked dreadfully ornate amongst the milk on the counter that had run over. While everything else in the apartment was busy grieving, it was the answering machine alone who was still nervous. It alone held the remnants of Stephan, the eight messages one after the other.

The bedroom was huge really. Wood floors, a little patchy but polished supported it. The walls were yellow, not paisley and complacent but a gold yellow; royal really. The bed was a queen sized bed, fitted with starched sheets, red to match the room and all of the furniture was unfinished wood. The only thing out of place, in the Ikea country d├ęcor was the answering machine. Black and sleek, it sat atop the heater blinking. It was a Casio, fit with all the trimmings. Digital answering machine AND Caller ID, all in one shot. The black plastic matched the gold yellow wall and gave the room a bit of new age ambiance. However it was the incessant blinking that disturbed the aura. The little red light flashing on and off sat there like a ghost. Janet sat on the bed, legs not crossed but together. She was perfectly still, but then kept smoothing her skirt over and over. She began to think that if she continued she might wear a hole through it. The sunlight streamed in through the window next to the bed, illuminating the yellow of the wall and the brown in the patchy floors. Warmth filled the room but the phone with the blinking light was still cold. Cold since the day Robert had left for his flight to San Diego. Janet sat there wondering when she would get the courage to hit play. The courage to hear the “I love you's” and the “will you marry me's” and the ominous “will you have my baby's” waiting, on voicemail. She knew he would say all the things he couldn't over dinner and the countless dinners before that that they had together and the little red light waited for her… just blinking blinking. Wondering what it was like for him, knowing he would die and having the freedom to say all the things he couldn't. A freedom she no longer had because during the incident her cell phone had stopped working. She wondered if it was better that he hadn't gotten through. Better because she didn't know what she'd say to a dying man. What would she say? What could she say? Finally she got up and walked slowly across the room and hit play. It responded, quietly and dutifully "I miss you already."

Diane Roy is a writer from New York City.

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