Let's Get Textual (Page 2)
I give him the grin he’s wanting before he turns his back to me, leaving me standing in the doorway, staring after the boy I could have loved.
I close the door and give myself a shake.
“It’s not the end, Delia.”
“Are you talking to yourself again? It’s too early for that crap.” My roommate and best friend Zoe scuffles down the hall, curly caramel hair a mess, hazel eyes puffy from sleep. “I need coffee ASAP.”
“There’s a fresh pot,” I tell her, pointing to the barely touched brew.
“What’s not the end, Delia?”
She pours her coffee and dumps enough creamer in there for a village. I make a face as she blows on the hot liquid. “Don’t start on me. You know I like my coffee the same color as my skin, so just shut it.” I wrinkle my nose more and she ignores me, taking a sip of her morning brew. “What were you just talking about? What’s not the end?”
“Oh.” I brush a hand through my hair, tucking the long brown strands behind my ear. “Caleb and I broke up this morning.” Zoe lets out a gasp, sloshing hot coffee all over her hand. “Well, technically it was last night.”
“Last night? Broke up? What the hell, Delia! Why didn’t you wake me up? I could have been there for you.”
Since our first day of freshman year, Zoe’s been my rock. We met at orientation and have been inseparable since. After having to spend the last three years in the dorms, living in separate residences, we finally managed to score an apartment off campus this year. If we thought we were close before, it was nothing compared to now.
“You were sleeping. We talked, and we’re fine now.”
“Fine as in you worked your shit out and you’re back together?”
“No. Fine as in we’re friends. We made the right choice.”
She plops down on the counter, her eyes wide and mouth hanging open. “I…I can’t believe it. You and Caleb, huh? That’s…wow.” She huffs, blowing a stray hair out of her face. “I never expected it. I believed you’d last the long haul. He was such a good guy.”
I nod, taking a seat next to her. “Is, Zoe. He’s still a good guy. It was mutual.”
“So we don’t hate him?”
I smile sadly. “No, we don’t hate him.”
“Good, because he has one hell of an ass.”
She bumps my shoulder and I laugh. When I realize it doesn’t hurt to do so, I know I’ll be okay.
Liam: Who is this?
* * *
Me: Um, Delia…
* * *
* * *
Me: Your sister?
* * *
Liam: I don’t have a sister. Is this a joke?
* * *
Me: Liam? What, no! Are YOU joking?
* * *
Liam: Who’s Liam?
My phone lights up in my hand, and I stop midstride. The screen says Liam, but I don’t believe that to be true now. I quickly make my way to a bench as curiosity fills me and I hit the accept button. “H-Hello?”
“Who is this?” The voice is gruff and not familiar to my ears.
I glance around campus, seeing if I can find someone lurking behind a tree, playing a prank on me. Nothing appears out of the ordinary.
“This is Delia,” I answer. My eyes fall to slits with suspicion, and though the caller can’t see me—or I hope he can’t—I know my tone conveys my qualms.
“Delia?” An electric spark races down my spine with the way the stranger says my name. “What the hell kind of name is that?”
Okay, forget the shiver. Screw this douche.
“The name I was given. Now who in the hell is this?”
“I think there was a mix-up.”
“No shit, Sherlock. Doesn’t answer my question though.”
The man on the other end of the line snorts. “You have a mouth on you, huh?”
“It appears that way. But—”
“I still haven’t answered your question. Yeah, I heard you. I’m Zach, and you’re not Mr. Warner, are you?”
“Do I sound like a Mr. Warner to you?”
He chuckles again, and I feel it all over my body. I hate that I feel it. “No. You sound much cuter than him.”
“So you think Mr. Warner is somewhat cute?”
“Ah, a sense of humor too. I can get on board with that.”
Something dawns on me: he’s flirting with me, and I kind of like it.
It’s been one week since Caleb and I broke up, and I wish it wasn’t true but the breakup has affected me more than I expected it would. We’ve been cordial in the class we share, even going as far as to meet afterward and grab a coffee, but things have changed. The dynamics of my friendships with others have already shifted. I’m not star third baseman Caleb Mills’ girlfriend anymore; I’m just Delia, journalism major and all-around normal girl, and I’m mostly okay with it.
“How did you get this number?”
“My roommate. We work together and he’s sort of my assistant, taking my calls for me. He wrote your number down as a client call from the home office.” He sighs, and it’s filled with irritation. “I was on my way out of the apartment when I sent him a text. I must have entered it into my cell wrong.”
“You communicate with clients via text?”
Zach tsks playfully, and I realize I’m on the phone with a stranger and there’s a smile plastered across my face. I shouldn’t still be on the phone and I shouldn’t be smiling, but what’s the harm in a friendly conversation, right?
“Are you judging me, Delia?”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“This mistake might cost me a client.”
“That’s not my fault.”
“I didn’t say it was, simply making a statement.”
“It’s not a fact though…”
I can practically hear him roll his eyes. “Observation, whatever, but I didn’t say it was your fault.”
“You sound like you blame me,” I retort.
“Never,” he promises. “I should figure out how to get in touch with my client though.”
“That would be a wise choice to make. Why did you have to reschedule?”
“Are we getting personal now, Delia?”
“Is that a personal question?”
“Depends on my answer, doesn’t it?”
“I suppose it does.”
“I was needed. Had to help mend the broken heart of my roommate. Tinder date gone bad and all that.” I hear what sounds like a refrigerator door opening in the background, then there’s the soft hiss of a bottle opening. “And you assumed I was your brother, right? Is he upset you missed your date?”
“We usually speak before our lunch dates and he called to reschedule. I thought it was weird he was mentioning it again, but I didn’t think much of it. He’s a strange character so it wasn’t too unusual.”
“And how did he call you if you thought this was his number?”
“He used his landline.”
“Those still exist?” he says with surprise in his voice.
“Hmm…” I hear him take a drink of whatever it is he’s drinking. “Quite the coincidence, huh?”
“The biggest of big,” I agree.
“So I’m the only one on the outs here.”
“It seems that way.”
“There’s that sass again, Delia.”
“There it is,” I deadpan.
We’re quiet, and I check to see if he’s still on the line.
“Well, this has been fun,” he says after several seconds of silence.
I hate to admit it, but I’m sad our call is ending. For the first time in a week, I feel normal and not like Caleb’s ex-girlfriend who everyone gives sad smiles to. Don’t they know it was mutual? Don’t they know I wanted this and don’t need their pity? Don’t they know I’m okay? Sure, I miss Caleb. He was an incredible boyfriend, the perfect guy, really, but he wasn’t my perfect guy, and we’re both okay with it.
“Sorry about your meeting, Zach.”
“Sorry about…well, nothing, Delia. It was a pleasure talking with you.”
We stay on the line for several beats until he finally disconnects the call.
Sitting there on the bench, I watch the bustle of students running from class to class. What in the hell just happened? How did that happen? And why in the hell did he call me? He’s brave, because I’d never hit the telephone icon and strike up a conversation with a stranger.
But maybe that’s part of my problem. I let myself fall into these patterns and then when I grow bored, I don’t do anything about it. Hell, I did the same thing with Caleb. I grew too comfortable with him and he stopped revving my engine, but I allowed us to keep going on even when I knew we’d be better as friends than anything else.
“Hey, you headed to 103?”
I shield my eyes against the sun and stare up at him. “As soon as I can convince myself to move off this bench.”
“Dreading the quiz?”
“Are they ever fun?”