Long distance phone calls sound so much more romantic than they really are. I imagine them like this:
A beautiful girl in some cushioned, pastel bedroom is cradling a plastic phone to her ear; twirling the cord around her index finger, into her palm and back again. While she waits for him to pick up, the dial tone replaces their distance with a close warm hum, and a smile catches on her pink lips as she hears his voice under the static.
In reality of course, it’s nothing like this; we speak through screens to virtual versions of the ones we love. The other night I spoke to my brother. At 21, he’s not that much younger than I am, but so much younger all at once. He showed me his freshly cut hair, swinging it across his cheek bones like stiff branches. He told me he’s been teaching himself to play the piano, that it didn’t take that long if you spent 10 minutes every day, in between whatever else you were doing.
He wanted to play me a song, and while he carried the laptop over to the piano, my screen flashed across the familiar pale ceilings; the chandelier that splashes rainbows all over the room in summer; my corner of the couch, and the wall of glass that lets the big black night stare in if you forget to close the curtains. Once he sat the computer down behind the piano stool, I watched his head drop forward as he rested his palms gently on the keys.
He began to play something that sounded like rain; the soft, high notes tip-toeing over the low, heavy chords. The kind of song that makes you hold your breath in case it tugs at your heart too hard, making it spill over.
As he played, I couldn’t hear the angry mess of still traffic outside, or the sirens that tear through the streets streaking red, just the steady sound of the piano keys rolling into each other. And even when the line got bad and the picture began tripping over itself trying to keep up; freezing him from chunks of grey to blurred boxes of slow colour – the music kept playing; loud and smooth as if I was right there with him, right there in the very same room.
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