She swallowed hard and found that the back of her throat was thick with mucus and salt, remnants of her afternoon spill, one of her crying-bouts that seemed to be happening more and more often. Whether she always thought about friends, family, or handsome men was questionable—sometimes it was a gratuitously sad commercial on the television, an old man crossing the street, or year-old receipts for cups of coffee that set her off. This particular day, it had been a hole she found in the sleeve of her cardigan, near her left elbow, which made her eyes fill with tears. Every time she bent her arm, the hole grew bigger and more damaged, stretching into an oblong circle and ripping threads with every tiny movement. She wept for an hour before she wiped her nose and told herself to stop, Anna, you’re being insane. This is not a worthy moment to waste these types of emotions. Dead puppies, yes. Holey cardigans, no. Unrequited love—maybe.
Anna crossed the room to pry open the window by her bed—a bed much too large, why a lanky, single girl would ever need a queen sized bed is completely unbeknownst to her—and dry her face. She watched as a teenage girl crossed the street without looking both ways and wondered if her parents neglected her as a child, or if she had any parents at all. Surely they would have taught her better safety precautions. Anna was just about to pass the same kind of harsh judgment on two young boys with muddy shirts, most likely from playing ball in the park, but maybe they didn’t have parents either, when her phone rang from across the bedroom.
Don’t pick up, she told herself angrily, you know who’s calling, what he’ll say and how you’ll feel when you hang up. …But maybe this could be the one, the conversation that will be different than the others. One more ring and the voicemail would pick up, and the conversation would never happened. Or it could be exactly what you expect it to be. She watched the boys with dirty shirts cross the street before she groaned outwardly, loud enough for them to turn and see her in the window, before she hurled herself across the room to answer the phone.