My phone rings and intrudes on the quiet darkness like a bomb.
It wakes me right out of my sleep, bracing myself against foggy confusion.
I was having a good dream, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was about now.
It’s you calling,
I stare at the phone for almost four whole rings arguing with myself, until I decide to pick up.
It’s the first thing you tell me when I answer, a warning I’ve heard too many times before.
I can scarcely understand you,
you trip and fall and crawl over your words, you’ve never been this bad before.
You ask me where I’ve been,
why I haven’t come around in awhile.
Did I still miss you.
It’s funny because all day I had wished you would text me, it’s been almost two weeks since the last time we spoke and I wished with every fibre of my being that you had some sort of valid excuse, so that I could justify still wanting you.
But Allah is very good at making points, especially with me, because there are some lessons I can’t seem to learn, no matter how many men I let throw me away.
“Thank God you picked up” you say, sliding through your words like your first time on ice skates.
I roll my eyes on the other end of the phone, but I don’t hang up.
I never hang up.
Instead I tell myself that rolling my eyes and shaking my head in the dark where you can’t see me is enough, even while I soften my voice for you.
You tell me this is the last time you are ever drinking again,
You’re nauseous but you can’t throw up,
you ask if I know the feeling,
I’m ashamed to say all too well,
so I say nothing.
I don’t think you’ve noticed that I haven’t said a word since we started talking.
You say you’ve been kicking it with some bad guys but you’re going to stop soon… Wallahi.
“Soon” is the key word here,
not now, not tonight, but “soon”
and I wish you wouldn’t mix Allah with your liquor.
I’m going to be better - you say
I’m going to be better for you…
I put my phone down on the bed so I don’t have to hear the rest of your 4 am drunken promises that you are counting on forgetting by the morning.
You ask me who I’ve been seeing,
I don’t answer, my voice keeps breaking in my throat,
you ask if I’m crying
I say “No” it sounds sharp and defensive.
I hear you laugh, it’s patronizing.
“I don’t care who you’ve been with” you say “but it’s time for you to be done with them now”
Where have you been? I finally ask breaking my silence
— I’ve been busy.
— why are you riding me?
— astaughfirullah man.
Why do you always do this?
— why are you so crazy?
I open my mouth to defend myself, and then shut it.
My face gets hot and tingling,
my hands turned red and I could feel my eyes filling with tears,
I tried not to blink.
Even though you could not see me, I knew you didn’t deserve these tears,
Crazy, in my experience, is a word that men use to cut you down when they feel threatened.
Nonetheless the words tore through me.
I do everything I can to not be called “crazy”,
I don’t tell you how badly you’ve hurt me because I don’t want you to say it’s all in my head.
I don’t try to hold your hand in public because I don’t want you to say I’m possessive.
I don’t ask you who all those unsaved numbers are in your phone because I don’t want you to say I’m sneaky.
I don’t text you to tell you that I miss you because I don’t want you to say I’m clingy.
I don’t ask for any titles because I don’t want you to say that I’m needy.
But you don’t come around for two weeks and when I ask you where you were and I’m crazy?
You said you had to go, you’dtext me tomorrow.
It’s been another two weeks and
only Allah knows why I’m still waiting."