I sit down at my computer when my phone rings.
“Hello.” I answer, with the enthusiasm of a wet loaf of bread. There is a moment of silence as I wait for an answer. The only sound is my mouse clicking rhythmically as I open up my bookmarks in Google Chrome.
“Hi, Roy,” the person on the other end finally says, “it’s Keith.” My mouse stops moving. I gasp silently, and the silence returns. It feels like an eternity.
“I assume by now you’ve… heard the news.” Keith is struggling to continue what he started, either worried about my feelings, or his own — I can’t tell for sure.
“N-no, I haven’t,” I stammer back, sitting forward in my chair. Keith was my sponsor at a rehab clinic I’d left around ten years ago. Those were dark times, and Keith’s call brings all the memories rushing back.
“You can tell me the truth, Roy. You owe it to us both to be honest.” I can feel myself becoming defensive. Does he think I don’t remember rule number 2? ‘Honesty is your salvation’.
“Yeah. Well, I really don’t know what you’re referring to.” My chair creaks beneath me as I shift to one side anxiously. I continue to browse in Chrome. It helps buffer the realness of this moment. There is a long pause before Keith lets out a rattled sigh.
“Animal Crossing for 3DS was just given a release date in Japan. I assume a Western release will be announced soon as well.”
I don’t know how long it was before either of us spoke. For all I know, the sun could have risen and set a hundred times.
“I… I don’t care.” I begin, “I’m… we’re… done with that game.” I look down at my knuckles, where on my right hand T O M is tattooed on my 3 remaining fingers, and N O O K is tattooed on my left. This is the only physical memory of those days I allowed myself to keep. Squeezing my hand into a tight fist, I wait for Keith to speak.
“I hope you really mean that. Just remember, I’m always here for you. We all are.” The sincerity in his voice turns my stomach. I don’t need his help; not anymore.
“Yeah. I know. Thanks.” From the silence I can tell Keith isn’t happy with my reaction. I need to match his sincerity to get him to believe me. ”I really appreciate it. You know, it’s true what they say: it never gets any easier.” Keith laughs. That may have convinced him.
“No. It doesn’t.” There is another pause, but neither of us wants to fill it with anything worthwhile. ”Well, I’d better let you go.”
“Sure. Tell Sharon I said hi.”
My hands are shaking even after I’ve hung up. I relax enough to return my gaze to my laptop. My trembling hand settles upon my mouse.
Finally, I proceed to checkout.