Lee Ann Leach
“Feeling unknown/And you’re all alone/Flesh and bone by the telephone/Lift up the receiver I’ll make you a believer” –Depeche Mode, “Personal Jesus”
They stood in the mist of understanding. He knew her because she had allowed him to look inside. She believed him when he said he understood all the things that had turned her soul and mind and heart into a mound of broken pieces by one that used and abused and took for granted the good things that she offered from her youth and innocence. She trusted him and allowed what was usually not visible to the naked eye of just any average person to see and know. They stood there on the edge of their own pain and loss and held the relationship balanced between the tips of their fingers. It was some fragile, delicate object of perplexity and curiosity. Neither knew what it was, but both knew that it was something different. Something rare. She wondered at times if it was what everyone called “love.” He marveled at its peculiarity, and thought aloud to her that it must be something from a former life. And they both passed through the days, watching it and seeing it grow into familiarity and perfection of fit, like a pair of blue jeans that you never want to take off for the business suit on Monday, or the pantyhose and bras of Wednesday at the office. He had what all thought was a forever love in his life, even himself. And she held that in respect and didn’t allow these strange and overwhelming feelings and emotions to get in the way of what he had in his life. The commitment, the vows, the promises to another one were held in the utmost consideration, and she kept herself from allowing her own feelings to cross over a line that was morally inappropriate. She knew there was someone else that had those vows to her, and that it was, indeed, not her. She respected that and kept her distance. Still, what was there was overwhelming, undeniable, and extremely confusing. An arm’s length was always in place, out of respect and morality• always• an arm’s length physically• but, there was no question that the souls were connected. None at all.
Then, one day, in the mind-scrambling of work and daily struggles to keep her head above water to feed two children on her own, and to simply survive in a world were money is emperor of our lives, the phone rang. There was his familiar voice on the other end of the line, and the words began and grew more intense as the conversation flowed. The words were sadness. The words were hurt. The words were rejection. The words kept on and on, in pain and hurt and longing to be loved without condition. Then, he invited her to cross over that line.
“She hasn’t let me touch her in two months. I can’t even hug her,” he complained, and she listened.
“She’s locked me out of the bedroom. I’ve slept in the front room for weeks now,” he cried and moaned. She had compassion, and her heart went out to him.
Her thoughts ran back to her own days of rejection and love that raged war on her heart. She remembered the nights of crying alone and hurting so deeply that her flesh ached and her bones felt like they were being ground into fine dust. Then, she remembered his vows to someone else, and she stopped. He talked more. His sadness and pain ran over the telephone lines like curdled blood, and she thought how much she cared for this man. He was her friend. A precious treasure that she held in such esteem that she feared the loss of him like her own death. And, she stood balanced before the thin line. She stared down at the line as his voice wavered and softened through the receiver.
“I just want to be with someone who loves me. I know you love me. I know you do. Can you come down here?” he asked in a pleading tone.
“No, I can’t do that. You’re married. I respect those vows and your wife,” she replied.
“But I need someone right now and I know you love me. I just want to be loved,” he cried, inviting her to cross the line again.
“I don’t think so. I’m not that kind of person, and you know that very well.”
“Well, have you ever had phone sex?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Would you with me?”
There it was. And she thought some more. She did love him, and he obviously loved her if he was saying these things to her. It seemed in her mind that the woman that had made the ultimate vows to him had decided that he wasn’t worth the effort to love him anymore if she was rejecting him and shunning his affections. Rationalization took hold of her, and her love for this man became too enormous to fight that day. And, she gave in. She agreed.
Foolishly. And, that• was the beginning of the end.
Days, weeks, months, and years passed by after that one telephone call. She struggled to bring the relationship back to where it was before he begged for her affections. She tried with all her might to jump, crawl, belly roll, run, walk, and even to fly back over the line he had asked her to cross that day, and it was impossible. There was an invisible wall there that kept her locked on the side of Eros love. The battle inside her soul was raging again. Demons laughed and knocked her down time and time again. Demons of shame. Demons of guilt. Demons of love lost. Demons of lost friendships. She tried to correct her coveting sin in any way she knew how. She lived with horror of knowing she had hurt someone else while trying to comfort the one she loved. And the pain mounted and grew and became an ogre of torture in her head and heart. And the love never died. It just grew every day, and every day he turned away from her. Now she was living the rejection he cried to her over the telephone in his own agony.
Then she realized that she couldn’t try anymore, and she surrendered. She took it all, bundled it up in a messy, bloody, damaged soul coffin and handed it over to something that could deal with it better then she ever could. Then she turned and walked away. The eyes still see, the ears still hear, but she looks away and tries not to think about it. She ignores him. She still loves, and she struggles to forget. Something rare, precious, and unique was murdered and sacrificed on the altar of selfishness with one simple telephone call that day. Be careful when you answer a telephone call from a friend.
“Take second best/Put me to the test/Things on your chest/You need to confess/I will deliver/You know I’m a forgiver/Reach out and touch faith”