The moments between

All the words unspoken between “send” and “received”

Frank the man
Apr 19 · 7 min read

He leaves the phone on the table. He did everything he should have done, nothing left in the air. No regrets.

The phone still there. Facedown to the table. Dead.

He looks away.

There are moments where life stops between the button “send” and an answer. Those suspension dots where everything can happen and yet nothing happens at all. Time stops at that last message.

Another look to the ticking clock and another to the phone. Still no answer.

In the heights of the tension, he just wants to rip the heart away from the rib cage and offer it with both hands to some invisible gods. Asking for an answer, a sign. Anything.

An atavic ritual. Blood dripping from the hands, staining the stones of the Altar of Quick Answer he’s currently worshipping. It hurts, it should really hurt a lot all that blood, but any physical pain is numbed by the suffering of the endless waiting.

Another look at the phone. He searches for scratches on the plastic surface as if trying to read some premonitions just by looking at the object. The phone like a modern-day oracle with wi-fi antennae to catch messages from the sky. Doesn’t offer more answer than a sacrificial lamb.

Okay. Just a little second to check if the message really went through, you know.

No notifications, nothing. His message is still there, last on the list.

A grey double-check. She had received it! It’s something.

Exhale.

He can picture the next scene in the script: the phone rings, she will reach the phone and find the notification of his message. He knows that she will ignore it and continue carrying on with life as nothing has happened. She’s still to angry to answer. But he also knows that she will come back to read it, eventually. He just has to wait.

There are moments stuck between a messy fight and an apology. What happens in those moments? Someone should write about it.

They’re a black hole that sucks away soul and energy for an indefinite amount of time until an answer will finally recompose all the broken pieces. The relationship equivalent to a duty-free zone in an airport. Those non-places built to make you forget the time passing as you scroll through Instagram only to keep the mind busy. You’re ready for a flight, but you’re still not flying. You can’t even go back. You’re simply stuck there.

Destiny and your future journey hanging on a last-minute announcement that the flight is delayed. What she’s going to answer? He thinks again.

“The flight is canceled sorry for the inconvenience” or “thank you for the message, you’re forgiven”. Both can happen, and the uncertainty is exhausting.

He doesn’t even know what to do to kill this time. He knows that he can work on the last project and forget the message, the phone, the fight, and the apology. But at the same time, everything looks meaningless if he doesn’t get answers. He needs to know.

What does she think?

Space in-between feels like a TV series without a season finale. You had a good time but you’re left with a bitter after-taste in the mouth, like those cheap wines at the grocery that he stubbornly keeps buying, knowing that he will be going to be disappointed. Maybe this self-inflicted sabotage is what is going to please the gods and his fortune? When in doubt, cheap wine is always a good answer, after all.

Let’s be real. A single message won’t change anything, but at least he would finally know if it’s time to pack everything and write a letter of resignation to his previous self or work out a better ending to his personal story.

She is at work when the phone suddenly rings. A short tone, a message. She knows what is all about without even taking it out from the back pocket. What the hell he wants? And why he can’t leave her alone, especially when she’s busy? Annoying. She was trying so hard to remove him from her thoughts, and here he comes again to destroy her life in the most inopportune moments.

After the last fight, she promised herself this would have been the last time. She won’t give any more chance. Not like all the other times before, when she was still young and naive and too damn in love. What was wrong with her?

She goes back to work, focusing back on spreadsheet tables and statistics, leaving the message in the back of her mind.

She knows exactly what to do. She will follow the usual recipe: ignore him for a day and let him marinate into self-doubt until soft and tender. She will decide later if cook him raw or let him slow-burn at a low simmer. Usually, she likes him raw, but that really depends on her mood and the wine pairing. She always hated his choices of wine, by the way. Another good reason to reconsider his relationship.

Still no answers. Strange.

He’s reading the message again to make sure everything is in order. He checks how many times he wrote “sorry” in the phrase (three times) and if the conjugation of “abide” (abode/abided) is correct. Why the hell he had even chosen these complicated words, by the way? That’s not how he normally speaks. Whatever. Too late to change.

He checks again if the wording of the last sentences that end with “yours truly” may sound too dismissive and come off as passive-aggressive? He would like to add a further message “no passive-aggressive meaning included”, just to explain, but he knows it would make everything worse.

The rest of the message is a long and complicated explanation of why he behaved as he behaved and why she should forgive him. A plot summary of their last colorful discussion. He knows that nothing is new to her, but is always better to state your position.

She’s trying hard to focus on the pages of analysis on her laptop, but the mind is somewhere else. When she reads the same sentence of the report for the third time in a row, she finally gives up and takes the phone.

She’s annoyed and pissed, that’s the truth. She has been clear that she didn’t want to hear from him anymore and he had forgotten that already with that stupid message.

The message is a huge block of text, sprinkled with some words like “sorry”, “I didn’t mean it” and cheap apologies here and there. Good, he did his homework. A long and detailed explanation of their latest discussion and some predictable attempts to win her forgiveness and understanding. Nothing new. She didn’t even remember the reasons for their last fight, she only knows that she won’t come back too quickly, this time.

She needs time to elaborate.

The double-check just turned blue. A fair price to pay for her curiosity. Now he’s going to know that she has read his message, is all up to her now. What to say?

Leave everything like that and don’t answer? Calling, maybe? No, no that’s surrender. I need to keep the stakes high if he really wants me back.

“Ok.”

When the phone vibrated he was ecstatic. Every meaning of life was grappling to this exact moment.

Eyes closed. Another deep breath. Open.

“Ok.”

A single word. Just the effort to type two letters and hit “send”.

“Ok.”

Life crashes. The mind goes in 404 error. What she could mean by that? Is she still angry?

Yes, she’s still angry. He knows the answer, but he still wants to grapple with the ambiguity, as if a flimsy glimpse of hope.

“Listen, I don’t want to give you another second of my life. I’m done!” She shouts at the phone as he could really hear through the screen and the twenty-three miles that separate them at the moment.

Maybe too harsh? No time to think about it, she needs to get back to the report a.s.a.p.

He throws the phone away. He can hear now the gods laughing at his human misery. The message broke him apart. Not what he expected. She’s clearly too angry at him to even bother to form a reasonable answer.

All the sacrifices and prayers in vain. He slowly walks away from the Temple of sorrow with an open hole in his chest. On the altar, still there, his heart, his dreams, and probably his own sanity, in this order. Everything he could sacrifice to the divinities of luck, love, destiny whatsapp, or whatever kind of God was available at the moment.

He’s ready to give up on everything. Maybe that was really his last chance.

The phone vibrates again.

What…?

The oracle speaks again, and the message is clear this time.

“Sorry I don’t have time rn, bbl” She hits “send”.

She can exhale again, feeling a little bit better. That was the right thing to do, after all. They will talk and figure it out tonight when she will have finished the report. When she will have processed everything, and maybe her mood would change.

A simple message to clear things out. She doesn’t know that somewhere, twenty-three miles apart, the God of luck, love, destiny, and whatsapp is smiling in the shadow of the Temple of Sorrow, watching these little humans struggling with emotions.

Maybe is just his dark sense of humor, but the God of wi-fi has always enjoyed playing with these moments in-between where everything can happen and nothing happens at all.

The moments where humans show their true selves.

UNDERSTATE

Below the surface

Frank the man

Written by

Human mess in search of enlightment, living off second-hand advices and refrigerated dreams. Daily average man. Feel free to call me Frank.

UNDERSTATE

UNDERSTATE is a magazine of independent thinkers and alternative creators.

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