It ended with a phone call. One phone call. I was laying in his bed with his Dr. Pepper sweatpants hanging off my legs in a safe and comfortable way, that only the sweatpants of the boy you love can comfort a girl. How silly is that? The comfort that another person’s clothes can bring you? It is as though you are wrapped in their embrace full time.

I was laying in bed with him, One of his arms draped around my waist, his hand on my stomach. I could feel him breathing behind me. As my back rose and fell his chest rose and fell with me. I was embraced by his clothes, and him. Doing what any responsible college aged couple does, we were napping on a Friday night before the parties. Which, in reality meant we were going to stay in bed all night and when we woke up from our “nap” we would put on a movie or go get the best most delicious McDonalds burger anyone has ever had. Because we were happy. With each other, we were safe and in this place it felt as if nothing could go wrong. Then the phone rang. 

As a newly turned 20 year-old, like every well respected 20 year-old, if the phone rings you answer it. Unless, it was your parents or actual responsibility calling then you would wait to see what it wanted. My eyes were heavy with sleep, my breath and his breath in sync I was almost dreaming, but the phone rang. The vibration on the windowsill next to our sodas pulled my eyes open. I moved my right hand, careful not to budge the sleeping man behind me and lifted my phone. Audrey. It wasn’t unusual for her to call me, she was one of my best friends, but at the same time, we didn’t keep in the best touch. Although our phones were glued to our hands, actually keeping in touch with your friends was somehow still an impossible task. We were all too busy, probably all the naps. So when her name was on my phone I knew I should answer it. But, I should have been overjoyed, she was calling. It must have meant that boy she was crushing on finally talked to her. Or something wonderful happened. I knew it wasn’t though. My gut told me something was wrong. I answered the phone, hoping to hear the best, but for whatever reason expecting the worst. 

“Hi,” I could hear the force enthusiasm in my voice. It was probably just the fact that I was almost asleep that made my gut feel this way. Everything was ok. 

“Tori?” Her voice said it all. It wasn’t just my tired state, something was wrong. 

“What’s up?” 

“I have Katie here, too. We are just calling…” The fluctuation of her voice and the cracking told me she had been crying. 

“Katie! What up girl? You guys going out?” I have to assume I’m losing my mind. Why would my two best friends be sad? Maybe they are just drunk missing me. Isn’t that nice? 

“She doesn’t know.” Audrey thought I couldn’t hear her. She said it in the background. The conversation had turned from one to me, to one about me. 

“Know what?” I asked. 

The silence was deafening.

“Audge! Know what? What is going on?” 

In that moment, I knew this comfortable safe space I was laying in. This happy space, wasn’t about to be my happy place anymore. I could feel Audrey crying on the phone. Her sobs were so loud and tangible, it felt like the phone was heaving against my head. Her tears were moving the phone. The hundreds of miles separating us disappeared. 

“Jake died.”

“Jake who?” I knew who but she had to say it. I needed her to say it, because it was impossible that it was my Jake. It couldn’t be. Right? 

She had to say it. My best friends in the whole world. The girls that were there for all my moments, my happy, my sad, my intoxicated. The friends that you dream of. They had to tell break my heart. They had to say it. They had to break my heart. 

“Audge? Katie? Jake who.” I wasn’t asking anymore. I was ordering them. Break my heart. Just do it. Tear it out of my chest. Break me. 

“Tori. Jake died. I’m sorry. He passed away today. No one has posted anything or shared anything because everyone wanted you to hear it, not see it. We had to call you. I’m sorry it took so long for us to call you. We had to do it together.”

I don’t know how long I was silent. I don’t know how I moved out of the bed without stirring the man behind me, but I slid to the floor. I became liquid. A liquid puddle that reformed into a person once I hit the floor. But, I wasn’t a person. I was a shell. My body was there, but nothing else was, at least not that I could tell. 

“Tori?” Audrey was crying. She had done it. She had made the call that no one should make. She had gotten through the sentences that are impossible to say and she could say no more. 

My cries made no noise. I don’t think I had a noise in me. My entire body was hot. I was sitting on the sun and boiling water was running down my cheeks. I don’t know how long I was silent, but eventually, the pain had a sound, and Audrey, Katie, and I were in the same room again. They were next to me in the pain. That was all there was, us connected by metal surrounded by the sound of pain. 

“I have to go. I love y’all.” My thumb pressed that red so final button that ends everything. The red button that before this moment was just a goodbye button became a symbol. End. What a true statement. My life ended. End. 

It all ended. The phone call. My happy life. My whole heart. It ended. 

 I was a shell. 

How silly that it would all end on a phone, when really that was how it all began, on a phone…

2 thoughts on “Dear January 20th…

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