Construct a character who is not present, who is offstage for the entire piece. You have many options here: people may talk about this character before meeting him, or after meeting her; you might choose to examine what this character owns, how he lives, and under what conditions; you might uses indirect approaches, like letters or documents that attest to the existence but not presence of the person. How do we know of people? Examine the ways we build characters in our minds and social environments before and after we meet them.
(from prompt #30 in The 3AM Epiphany)
Read my response:
"IMG_3021" by SolYoung
I feel my phantom phone vibrating; it’s nowhere near me, and wherever it is, it’s far too broken and damaged to alert me of anything after last night. But I feel it still, persistent and self-contained, buzzing close to me. It’s like it’s my twin that broke her arm at summer camp and my arm, while whole, is pulsing with a vague pain a hundred miles away.
I’ve reached for it a half dozen times already, and I still haven’t made it to a cab, let alone my car. Of all days, today is the day my phone isn't here for me.
Late last night I had a screaming fight in an empty parking garage. Our shouts carried farther than we needed them to carry, because as many hours ago as they occurred, they are still ringing in my ears. It’s a funny situation, and if it wasn’t so heartbreaking I would laugh. There we were, a bridesmaid and the bride, screaming obscenities after a bachelorette party gone horribly awry: she’s still got a cheap veil clipped in her hair, and I held baggies of homemade frosted cookies in the shape of penises up until she dropped me off at my hotel, when I chucked them with all the ferocity of a jilted lover casting off an engagement ring. And then I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed, felt the actual moment that my heart broke—a dull crumbling, like the cookies, instead of the more dramatic shatter that I’d expected, listening to pop songs—and it was literally my tears that destroyed my phone. Water damage.
I want so badly to call so many people. I want her voice out of my head and I want to replace her voice with other voices. Her angry, awful voice echoing angry, awful things. She isn’t here but I hear her. She yells combinations of words, and I’m still sorting out their various meanings. When she says my life is a mess, and that I can’t take care of myself, is that a pronouncement or a theory? Is it coming to pass because she said so, or did she say so because it’s come to pass?
Her voice used to be comforting to me. We talked often, about books mostly, and ourselves. Once we talked in front of a Starbucks for four hours; she told me that dreaming in color is a sign of intelligence, and we were both satisfied with the nature of our dreams. She told me about relaying the same fact to a mutual friend, who had replied that she dreamt in black and white, and what of it. We giggled about people who weren’t intelligent enough to dream in a full spectrum of shades, people who weren’t intelligent enough to know what they were missing.
On my dead and useless phone, I had the text message she sent me the night she got engaged—just a picture of the ring on her finger, and the words “Shhhhh! I can’t tell anyone yet!” and I replied with tens of exclamation points, and still it wasn’t exclamatory enough. Her sparkly little diamond on her ring finger, catching all the light even in the dark night: even in the depths of my depression, I felt so buoyed by her happiness, by the joy of my best friend, and for a while there was nothing I enjoyed more than helping her plan her wedding.
What I want to say isn’t poor me, even though I’m feeling sorry for myself—I’m saying poor me, but it isn’t what I want. I want to say all that I can’t say, because she isn’t here, because my phone doesn’t work, because for the last month, when I was half swimming, half drowning in a pool of self-pity (that felt like an ocean,) I was trying too hard to keep my head above water to talk much about dreams or their colors. All I could see was what I was missing. And right now its her, because I can feel her and hear her in her absence: right now I can only think of all the things I can’t say.
I can’t say sorry, or thank you, or ask why, anymore than I can call her up to talk about how ridiculous Twilight is, or how awesome Gossip Girl. I can’t move on, or let go. I can’t ask if she ever started listening to The National, or if she still writes, or if she misses me. I can’t hear what she thinks about Palin or listen to her joke about Prejean. I can’t call, and joke about TV shows or listen to her vent about her sister or joke about her soon to be husband.
The one I tell everything is gone.