Your email says, "How're you doing?" That's it. It doesn't say where you are or how you are or why you are. Or why you are sending me one. You are sending me one that prompts an answer. That puts upon me to answer. To tell you, at my expense, how I am, whether it's true or not, whether you will even look at it or not. So I delete it. You are gone. Bye bye.
It's been three Christmases since I last heard from you. I had given you up for dead. Or at least living in Florida. But you sent that email a few days after the holiday. I'm surprised. I'm surprised that you know what my email is and that, somehow, you have found my email address since I have changed it several times now. Another one arrives that night: "Thinking of you" on the subject line. I consider it, tempted, but delete it.
A day later you send me yet another one: "Call me." I know if I open it, a phone number will be there. I close it and go into the yellow kitchen to do the dishes in the sink. I can smell the honey in the nearby cabinet while I place a dish on the white plastic rack but I think about the email.
I look up the area code, which is in Chicago. I ask myself why you would be in Chicago, but I don't have an answer and I don't know why I even care. I can't place you there but there you are, at least for now. I finally delete this one as well and sit with my little parrot on my lap, stroking his head until he falls asleep.
An hour later another email arrives. I hear it ding as it arrives on my laptop. I am watching a British quiz show and try to keep focused on the trivia that they talk about in their pronounced accents. I try not to think about this email either, but I know it's there and eventually I go to my laptop and find it there, waiting to be clicked. I want to delete it, to make it go away, but there is this thing inside me that I cannot control, that I cannot quench in order to make it go away.
I open the email: "Give me your number," it also says "and I will call you." And at the bottom: "I've been waiting." And I know, in that fucking part of me that I could never control, that beats every second, that I have been waiting too.
Ron Burch's short stories have been published in Mississippi Review, Pear Noir!, Eleven Eleven, Pank and others. His first novel, Bliss Inc., was published by BlazeVOX Books. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is Co-Executive Producer on a TV show for DreamWorks Animation. He is also a produced and published playwright. Please visit: www.ronburch.com.