Bill for the Second Line

Eight months after the accident, and I still call every night. Her scent, like roasted pears and cinnamon, has evaporated from the linens. Long strands of red hair which once coated our flat, now belong to the Dirt Devil. At some indefinite point, her voice became vague and unfamiliar in my dreams, so we rarely talk. Even her cat started to come when I call. But after eight months, I still can’t sleep without the electric-purr of the cell ringing in my eardrum.

I’ve heard of people who spend their whole lives by the ocean, and then after some forty years or more, just up and move to eastern Nebraska or western Tennessee or somewhere equally flat and dry. Within a week, they buy their first New Age CD—Nature’s Voices or something—and a track featuring the slow roll of tides is put on repeat all through the night. Like the voice behind a hypnotist’s pendulum, the water whispers sleep.

It’s as if for them, silence only exists in the gentle crush of water over sand. At the forgotten possibility of the line clicking live and a familiar, hello?

RM Cooper's fiction and nonfiction has recently appeared in university and independent presses including Fugue, Noctua Review, and Paper Nautilus, among others. Cooper lives in central Iowa and is the managing editor of Sequestrum (