Simon exited the apartment and braved day like a vampire, the tendrils of sun ripping at and exposing his darkness. That sun, the measure of futures. He stopped and looked back at the place called home for the past few years and he wanted to toss a rock through its lonely living room window. Instead he continued to the car, got inside and opened the glove box. The cell phone. What had the voice said? Redial if there was a problem? It was the last thing, uttered matter-of-factly in the tone of noisy shadow, as if coming not from another phone, but from someplace omniscient shrouded in veils of electricity. Then the line had gone dead. Simon took the phone and hit redial. It didn’t ring. Silence. Then just as he was about to look at the display to see if it even connected, the voice swallowed light with two simple, static-filled words: “You know.”
Simon’s voice stuck in his throat, his mouth dry with fear. He wanted to hang up, but instinctively understood this was next, that there was work still to be done; that the work might never be done. The line sizzled with distortion, arcing crackles spiked with sounds shooting stars might make.
“I need…” Simon said haltingly.
“The next.” The voice finished.
Of course it knew. It once made this call, frightened, lost in a cycle not yesterday or tomorrow, but likely left or right, concurrent. A looping time that locked into his own and then another and another like keyrings. His own voice, finding his own ears from an impossible distance away, but closer than his own shadow.
The voice gave him her name, a month, day and year, a time and a location. Simon wanted more – a reason – but the silence seized on the shuddering of their tenuous connection. He placed the phone back in the glove box and lifted it shut slowly, as if returning a precious religious artifact to its alter. He then stared out the car window dumbly at the bending trees above crowding a blue lung sky like bronchi greedy for breath. Watching them in the breeze reminded him to breathe. Breathing reminded him of the kids. The kids reminded him to move. Simon started the car full of their past and slowly reversed into the future. (To be continued…)