I picked my head up and opened my eyes at that too familiar sound. The reaction to a text tone is sort of Pavlovian, an immediate learned reaction to that certain personal sound of a personal message received. The anticipation of another’s immediate thought, response or proposition, sent in the moment, rarely left to simmer. The specific reaction may change but there is always the quick jerk and thought, the shift of focus, an excitement or dread, sadness or salivation. Even wasted.
I looked around whatever room I was in, my head and eyes weighed down by too much to remember. Everything was slow and heavy, the night had taken its toll.
I didn’t see my phone anywhere in my blacked-out vicinity. Three bodies I couldn’t identify were on the floor to the left of the too-uncomfortable chair I guessed I had passed out in. Two of the bodies embraced.
A few sudden vibrations shook my leg and another tone rang out, much more clearly from around my groin this time. A closely following second tone is usually attached to much stronger feelings, good or bad, but I couldn’t remember which way I was supposed to feel. What was I talking about?
I felt around on my thighs where the pockets of my jeans would be. I bumped into the candybar bulge of my phone on my left leg. It took every ounce of concentration and strength, plus an audible groan, to shift my weight and reach into my pocket. As I grabbed my phone, I could feel the quick succession of short vibrations leading up to a third tone.
“Fuck,” I mumbled to myself, fighting the urge to vomit from just speaking. As my phone emitted another of its twinkling tones, I wriggled it from my jeans, pockets tight. I was either in some deep shit or doing something cute, or funny, or just right in some way. And all on auto-pilot. I hoped for anything close to the latter but expected the former as I tapped the power button on the top edge of the phone to turn on the screen. Who was I even talking to?
My mind knew it should’ve felt more nervous, or anticipated at least, but it didn’t care, staying tucked in its warm blanket of intoxicants. The screen flicked on and my finger automatically glided in the pattern to get past the lock screen.
I opened up the string of messages and attempted to read but could barely understand anything I was seeing. The first sentence was only half a sentence. I could read words separately but couldn’t comprehend full sentences. I skipped over words entirely and forgot others as soon as I read them. Feeling frustrated and illiterate, my attempt at reading turned into a skimming, catching words sporadically. There were numerous words in all-caps, a few “love”s, more “hate”s, every explicative I could think of and a disconcerting lack of emoticons.
I stopped and took a breath, slowing down and reminding myself that this was serious and no time for skimming. Triple-tone. I started to reread the first sentence which was still unusually cut-off at the beginning. I realized I had been attempting to read the thread in reverse order, the truncated first sentence being the continuation of the message before. I flicked up to the top and gathered myself to start reading once again, this time in the right position. But before I could get past the first “I”, my phone vibrated again, letting out another tone that lost impact every time I heard it. A notification popped down from the top of the screen and quickly disappeared.
The sound, vibration and what I thought was a quick glance in attempt to catch the dropping notification threw me off balance again. I looked back at the messages and noticed I had been bumped down to that most recent text in the thread. I hadn’t even thought to check who I was talking to. I was quickly snapped out of all intoxication when I saw who it was.
The newest message was much shorter than the others, and much easier to comprehend.
“We’re over. Goodbye.”