The loneliest time of day

by
Since Ben left, I often find myself sitting and feeling pretty lonely. Sometimes I think I can hear crickets in my head, reminding me that the house is no longer buzzing with activity and love. It is all so quiet. The worst time of day, by far, is when I’m out on my evening walk with Duncan. That used to be the time when Ben and I would chat about our day, talk about the future, make plans, and laugh at why the neighbour down the road decided to paint his garage doors a horrifying turquoise. But now there is just silence and the occasional person stopping to fuss over the dog. So our idle chit chat is now replaced by music from my IPhone, which I keep dialed so high into my headphones that the world, and it’s silence, are muffled. But yesterday I was given a little surprise. Ben called my cell phone, which he has never done, just to say hello and let me know he was thinking of me (yes, Ladies, I know, I have it so good!!). Usually we chat on the web cam and in fact, I don’t think we’ve spoken on the phone more than 3 times since he’s been there. I almost didn’t answer the ring because I didn’t recognize the number, figuring it was a telemarketer. But when I picked up and heard the delay on the other end of the receiver, I knew it was him. “Hi, Babe.” The voice sounded so small. So insignificant to the average ear. But to me, it was everything I needed to hear. I cried. In the middle of the street with Duncan watching, ever the passive witness. We didn’t talk long and God knows what the cell phone bill will be when I get it next month (what is the rate per minute from Afghanistan??), but for a happy five minutes, I didn’t care. I kept on walking as I told him about my day. I pretended he was strolling right along beside me. I pretended all was right in the world and we were finally back together. But when I pressed the button to hang up the phone (hardly as satisfying as it used to be when you could snap a flip phone shut…oh the good ol’ days), I was back to being alone, crying in the middle of a children’s park now, gripping the dog’s leash as though it was all that would save me. There were two small kids watching me from the top of the jungle gym, their eyes feeling very judgemental, although I’m sure they are hardly old enough to know the meaning of the word. But as Duncan began to tug on the leash, in the direction of home, I realized it was time to move on, in both the figurative and literal sense. I composed myself and as always, I kept on walking. Because at the end of the day, that’s all you can do. Just keep on walking. Kelly