“The mountain range was daunting. But not as daunting as her six inch, red Christian Lacroix heels. The strap had broken and she…”
He slapped the book shut. It was pointless.
He could not concentrate anyway. His eyes kept going back to his phone on the table next to the couch. Each time he heard it ring he’d jump and reach out to it hoping it was her, and each time he would feel the disappointment. Each time it was yet another work e-mail. Another missile had fallen, and another one and he was supposed to be writing his article about it, and instead he had opened this book that he had now shut and thrown across the room. “To hell with the whole lot of you! Stop bloody bombing each other already! And you! Answer my message already” and with that he went and did some crunches, punched his punching ball. He did not understand why she was not answering. He checked his phone, the last message he had sent her, maybe it was something he had written, the way he had written it, the tone he had used. His humour that she had not gotten.
“Imysmpcm” …. Hmmm… Yes, their game, they only wrote to each other using the first letter of each word and the other had to guess what was written. Maybe she did not get that one? Usually she was pretty good at it tough.
Could she have stopped loving him already?
He had to know. He jumped on his phone, anther false alert, but a real explosion and ten dead. He did not care. He was about to ditch it again when it rang.
The office, there were serious shouts at the other end of the line.
“What the hell are you doing? Why are you not sending us anything? Do you have any idea what is happening at the border? Are you sleeping! Let me remind you if the basic rules of the game here: you are not being paid to do fuck all and get laid with every hooker you lay your eyes on. There is a real war on now you are meant to be on the front line, taking pictures, interviewing soldiers, informing the world. Get up and go to work! I swear that if I don’t get your story within the hour, you are fired, and we are not covering your trip back to safety! And one more thing, …..” But he did not hear it. He heard a loud explosion that shook even the windows of his hotel room.
He went to the minibar and took a bottle of vodka out that he finished in one gulp. He took the other one too, cursing those minibars with the mini-bottles. He was not mini, and he maxi needed to get blasted, well not literally of course…
The phone again, another explosion… That one was too late; he had already heard it live.
He went on his sofa. He needed to hear from her. They had met but a week ago, had seen each other twice, had kissed but once, but he could not get her out of his mind. All he thought about was her; all he dreamed about was her. All he wanted to do was be with her. He knew he had to get to work. The phone again, 56 dead and 274 wounded from the explosion close to his hotel. He could hear the ambulances, the police, the whole spiel. He went to his desk, on his way, he snatched all the mini-bottles from the mini-fridge. He sat down and proceeded to write about the horrors of the war, but all he wrote brought him back to the colour of her eyes. And then, it hit him: maybe she was not calling back because she had been amongst the victims. He put on his shoes, without bothering to tie the laces, took his phone, his notebook and camera and rushed out. Outside his door, his fixer was crouched staring ahead. “What a weird guy” he thought to himself, “on y va patron?” He answered while running down the stairs; he had never trusted elevators in times of emergency. The fixer on his heels, he shouted to him “Where were the explosions? Where were the most civilians hit? What hospitals did they take them to?” He did not hear the answer, but was now following the small and agile guy, who had taken the lead. As he was running, his phone rang, as his phone rang, he heard another big boom. It seemed to be getting closer and closer. He was so nervous now. He had to get to her. He had to see her. She could not have been hit. They had so much more to do together, so many new sites to discover, so many conversations to have, so many laughs to laugh, so much love to do. His stomach was churning as they were now running amongst the dead and the wounded. Limbs seemed to everywhere, people were moaning, crying, a small child was holding on to a hand and crying. He could not stop; he took a picture on the run. He had to get to her. He was scanning the floor as he was running, and giving secret blessing each time he saw white skin and it was not hers. He felt awful, but kept on running. He got to the first hospital where the smell almost knocked him down. He was not prepared for what he saw there. He was not prepared for any of it. Not for the blood, not for the love. He told his fixer to ask about a white woman. But no one had seen any white woman here. Relieved, he took a few shots and recorded some words on his machine and went back out. Night was falling now. He felt sick to his stomach. The whole city was burning, but not as bad as his heart. He looked around him and was knocked down by another explosion. Nothing hurt or broken. The fixer was fine too. They had been knocked by the shock. He was holding back his tears now. He did not want to look like a whimper in front of his fixer. He got up and was on the run again when the phone rang. It was not a bomb but an explosion of joy filled his entire body. It was her. Finally. She was fine, she was alive, she was whole they had a great future ahead of them. He could not stop reading and rereading her text: “icstoy.ly,my”. The fixer grabbed his sleeve, they were on the run, explosions all around them, but it all made sense now.
(August 13th, 2013)
This story also appeared on Just Effin Entertain Me