Long Distance


He imagined her standing by the water cooler in the middle of the night, sipping water from a mug for the third time that night. It was as if she were still there and would return to bed soon. But she didn’t.

The memory faded into the shadows of his apartment, leaving him in bed alone again, craving her touch.

Turning around, to face the wall, away from the kitchen in his studio apartment, he felt the wind from his fan hit his neck. It was cold.

His bed had not been cold when she had been there. It was usually to hot he’d throw the covers to her side. He didn’t even mind that she took over two thirds of the bed. He just loved feeling her arm wrapped around his, her quiet breath on his neck.

It was cold.

So cold.

No amount of covers could fix that. No heater could fix it. Not even the southern California mid-summer heat could fix it.

Pressing his pillow against his face, he imagined himself screaming at the top of his lungs, a pressure building on his chest, a pain that made him wonder if he were having a heart attack.

God, I miss you.

Even though he had his back to his computer, the lights reflected against the white walls. It flickered, processing the continuous transmission, the only thing that reassured him that she wasn’t completely gone.

The light wrapped around him, almost as if it hugged him, warming him up slightly. But it wasn’t enough. The internet, the computer, the video, the call, nothing was enough. Nothing compared to the real thing. He hated that it was the only way that he could even manage a few minutes of sleep.

He turned to face the computer. The monitor was still on. Even though he hated light when he tried to sleep, he always left it on when the call was there. He didn’t want to hang it up. It eased him. It helped him fight the cold more than any bed sheet.

On that last day, the day when she left, she had sat at that computer, typing something away. She hadn’t mentioned. She’d only told him to stay way and not to peek. He had an inkling of what she did, but he was still surprised when he began receiving messages over the course of the month, little hints of her affection scattered in syllables.

But now, the empty leather chair reflected the light, and the temperature of the apartment seemed to drop.

I wish I could fix this.

If he had been a millionaire, he would have flown to see her at that instant. He would not have been in this apartment, freezing to death. He could even imagine, stepping out of the airport to see her smile, the one she always seemed to try to hold back out of shyness. Oh god, he loved that smile, and he loved teasing her until it blew up into a full smile that she would cover with her hand as she turned a shade of red.

He could imagine embracing her and whispering into her ear, “I will never leave you again.”

But that was fiction, and this was reality.

Turning once more, he wiped his damp eyes and tried to clear his mind and fall asleep.

I miss you so much.

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