she came into his life in fragments – each piece medicine for his past ache. she was tired of where she was emotionally but her pride wouldn’t let her reach out, except through her bleary eyes – she smiled always but her eyes were windows with naughty boys’ target-practice remnants.     

as quickly as she came into his life that day in june she disappeared – a phantom for mental ache. the only way he could reach her was an email address scrawled on an attendance sheet. but she had been aggressive without words. even if he gave in to his temptation, he was sure he will become the joke at dinner amongst birds of her kind. but there was something in her eyes that didn’t match her cheerfulness when she was with the others.            

this cold june morning as he sleeps his phone buzzes. he picks it up, an email with a subject and a song attached – no message, just eight digits with a question mark. he checks the name of the sender – no one he knows. he puts the phone down, gets off the bed to use the toilet – the chill has turned the room into a surround freezer. on his return to his darkened room the screen of his phone is still lit. he checks the sender’s name again, no one he knows. just as he put the phone down he remembers. she who hardly spoke to him. she who spoke to all but him. in fact, he felt a certain latent aggression from her. now this. in spite of his better judgment, he pressed ‘download’. though alone, he put on his earphones and listens.    

if you’re lonely anytime

you can talk to me[1] 

he can’t remember discussing anything, or anything personal with her. all they did was work on a group activity at the workshop. even then, she looked straight through him every time he spoke – never commented on his input. she had made him feel like the teacher you have a crush on, but one who preferred other boys.  but here she is saying:  

call me anytime you need someone to hold you

the tears in your eyes …    

he rereads the subject line of the email, “a place to hide.” he recalls after the group activity, sitting in his corner at the front of the room doodling his pain on the workshop writing gift-pack. while she regaled the naughty boys, in supposed slim-fit but undersized clothes, with dead corporate jokes. his ears rang with the facetious laughter of the naughty boys for three weeks.   
but here she is threatening to crash the walls around his heart:

little corner of the world is what i give to you.

somewhere we can find some peace and understanding life can be sweet.         

he pressed ‘pause’ – his mind racking episodes of years of loneliness. he removes the earphones and adjusts his head on the pillow – sideways – staring into darkness as names of past heartbreakers tumbled off the racks in his mind. he shut his eyes and feels a warm trickle race across his nose and down the contours of his face – it wasn’t lacrimation. it wasn’t even psychic tears – his usual leucine encephalin for the rack stackers. funny, humans are the only creatures that cry emotionally, he muses. but he can’t explain the tears snaking saltilly across his face this morning. he opens his eyes, put the earphones back on, and presses the two bars.

call me day     

call me night  

call me anytime you need someone to hold you       

the tears in your eyes 

will be gone    

they will dry   

and if you still fight and you can’t face the world outside     

let me be your place to hide.  

he returns to the email, reads it again. apart from the attached song and the subject, and the eight-digit number in the body of the email with a question mark – nothing else. is she awake now, he muses. he sits up in bed. if the phone falls face up i will call her, he muses. he raises his hand and flicks the phone in the air – it falls face up. he picks up the phone and dials the number. as it rings he feels the dampness of his t-shirt. he didn’t realize he had been sweating – in six degrees centigrade weather. he listens to the ringing, each ring seems to mock his heartbeat. on the sixth ring he decides she wasn’t up – the disappointment more than the stupidity of the 3 a.m. call. then he hears bedsheets rustle – he freezes, eyes shut, he awaits his mortification:   

         “oh, hi. i guess you received the song … glad you called.”

[1] Springs, Kandace. A Place to Hide. Soul Eyes. Blue Note. 2016.