The Lost Art of Telephoning
Belle felt that she should phone. There was no practical impediment. The telephone was right there, daring her from its silver-coloured plinth. Even closer was her mobile phone. She clasped it in her warm hand. Why was speaking, then listening, such a difficult prospect? She thought of the one she loved and sent out an imagined stroking, but she knew that really wouldn’t do.
Belle tapped out a quick, ‘Thinking of you - love you. x’, onto the screen. It looked glib, throwaway, deleteable. She wiped the box and stared at its blankness. She imagined her loved one, who would never know how much time she had spent thinking of what to say. So why not just say it? Just phone.
Belle now held the silver-coloured handset; the mobile phone had been thrown across the room. She dialled the number, then quickly slammed the phone back onto its stand. What if a voice had answered? She imagined the enormity of that moment, and the infinite ways in which language, tone, breath, might be misunderstood.
Belle longed for the intimacy of the amplified voice in her ear, the sound of expelled air, evidence of mutual existence in the same time, if a different space. Her longing for the act of shared words was cancelled out by her antipathy to the act of telephoning.
The creamy paper looked up at her, the fountain pen felt smooth and weighty in her hand. She watched ink leak out onto the paper, shaping the words.