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The last phone call we had exchanged was back in March, a hasty thing where she had been unloading groceries, appearing more busy than she was, and where she had spent as much time addressing the man in the room as she did talking to me, and where I had taken the hint and said "Oh, call back later when you aren't busy."

And then a few months later, a somewhat apologetic e-Mail message: perhaps we haven't been so close lately, but perhaps when I am traveling in the vicinity, I could stop by and see her. There is some trepidation on my part in this, but just as much hope, and what could happen in a phone call, anyway?

I went outside for the phone call, underneath the stars in June, which I guess is horribly romantic, although it didn't feel like that at the time. I am trying to guess what I felt at the time, it was a while ago. Probably it was odd to me that a voice whose timbre I remembered so well, that used to play so automatically and happily with me, sounded so odd. It was like seeing an actor who was always in-character suddenly drop out of character, the exact same sounds, but none of the right inflection. Which is why there was long pauses, long hems and haws. And during one of those pauses, I figured the connection had dropped. I started to hang up the phone, and just as I hung it up, I heard:

"I am still here"

I dialed back immediately, left an apology on the voice mail. And then called again. Maybe waited this time. We had done this many times before, in the good old days. The "both calling each other's voice mail at the same time roulette". In a minute, I went and tried to use e-Mail, and whatever other intarwebbery I had at my disposal. Apologizing for hanging up too early, saying it was just technical, it would be easy to get back on the phone. Nothing. I don't know why, whether it was anger at my mistake, anger that had been there over something I had said, or just awkwardness over hearing each other's voices again. It looks like I won't be finding out anytime soon.

Two years previously, an off-hand comment from her: "I would be mad if you stopped talking to me."

And it would be years later that I would learn the weird relationship between abandonment and silence.

But the bottom line is: silence, the refusal to communicate, is a weapon. It is meant to make me feel bad. It is meant to hurt me. It is meant to make me feel like I don't even deserve to be told to fuck off. But all done with expert, flawless plausible deniability. Direct violence or even verbal harassment has an obvious goal of hurting someone? But silence? Pretending the question isn't even there? Why, you can still coyly pretend that you are just going about your business, and that your silence isn't a weapon.

The moral of the story?

You can do whatever you like, or for that matter, not do whatever you like, but if you believe in any objective standard of wackness, floating in the intangible moral realm, you should know that it applies to you, because your smirky little ploy of grabbing attention and acting like you just happen to be going about your business...well, you don't fool me, and whatever God there may be willing, you won't be able to fool yourself forever.

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