I picked up the phone and Mom was on the line. Mom! Dear Mom! On the phone! Well! What do you know! I heard the fake smile in her voice. She hadn’t dialed and I hadn’t dialed. Our phones had both rung and we had both answered: the network was trying something new. We had to talk then. What could we do—pretend we were wrong numbers? She said she was surprised to hear from me; I told her she had broken up my marriage and cost me my kids; she countered by telling me to get over it, sweetheart. I tried to imagine how that would feel. I tried to imagine how it would feel to be a woman who would give such advice. By way of thanks for her counsel, I attempted something new, crafting my final complaint around a half-submerged declaration of devotion in the “if I didn’t love you” style and hung up feeling we had made a start. I closed my eyes and breathed. How to quantify this thing that can’t be quantified went my thinking, when really, for happy innocent sons who love their mothers, a ton seems a reasonable unit of measure. I love you a ton, Mom, they say, the morons. I would never have placed the call, but the network had done us a favor this time. I picked up the phone to dial again and found it already in use and myself in a sudden twitch. I was listening to the voice of a person to whom I had owed an inconvenient sum for an overlong time. You don’t need the details. They’re not germane. I had said Hello, and he had spoken my name. I wondered if I could ask him to get over it.

Copyright © May 22, 2008 David Hodges

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