Lost Signal

By Jasmin George//

“Yo, can we talk about how that fat bitch followed Richy out the store? Did you see how she was walking?”

My heart sinks. I can hear the laughter on the other end. I know that laughter. It’s the laughter that derives from disbelief. Disbelief at the thought that someone so low has the audacity to have an ounce of confidence.

“Nah, she wasn’t even fat though,” Richy says while chuckling. Although his words challenge his friend’s statement, his laughter confirms a gentle reassurance of the evaluation.

“Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?” I ask angrily desperate for him to know that I can hear his conversation.

But the dreadful beep sound repeats three times on the phone indicating a broken connection, and the dread seems to transfer to my soul. Something is not right. I’m a cancer. I’m intuitive. I know better than to pursue this relationship any further. But also like a cancer, I need answers. What the fuck just happened? I start pacing around my shared bedroom at 2 am asking this question repeatedly as I try to hear a ringing with every attempt to contact him again. Nothing. It goes straight to voice message. Did he just block me?

“Hey, Camila, sorry to wake you up, but do you mind letting me use your phone for a second? I just wanna see something real quick.”

“Yeah,” my roommate says weakly out of her sleep “sure.”

I hurry and dial the number that has been the source of confusion for the past few days. I thought we hit it off alright last week. There was so much sexual tension between us. Again, there’s silence and then his voice message. I breathe again and a cool air fills my lungs. Relief. His phone must’ve died. I frantically begin typing on my phone, “Hey, are you still coming over?” 15 minutes pass and my heart starts to quicken when my phone rings. Sorry, Camila for the loud ringtone, but I don’t wanna miss my opportunity by falling asleep. Opportunity for what? To see him? To look him in the eyes and confront him? To see how he plays off his conversation with his friends when he comes upstairs with me? I don’t know yet. Things are moving too fast. I read his message with urgency: “My bad, my phone died. I got off work a little while ago and I’m still here. You want me to come over? I’m a little tired but I’ll still come if you want me to.” The words just spill out before I have time to really think: “Yeah, I want to see you. You can just sleep over.” “Alright” he writes, “I’m on my way.”

How could he entertain that conversation about that woman at the store? I feel a connection to her, somehow. I mean, I reacted to that conversation as if they had been talking about me. D.C. guys are so strange. I don’t understand them. If Richy doesn’t like fat girls then why did we hook up last week? Even though he didn’t initiate that conversation with his friends, isn’t he guilty by association? Why did he agree to see me tonight? Is he doing it out of pity? I open my phone to look at my Tinder conversation with him and remember that I deleted the app. Was it him who initiated the conversation? I don’t look so different from my photos on there, do I? Why does this scenario always happen whenever I try to move on from someone? They end up having full control over the “relationship,” and I either concede or leave. I replay what I overheard on the phone. Those laughs send me back to years prior. Back to the days when I worked out so much just to escape that laughter. The laughter that filled my heart with anxiety and locked me in the center of focus. Nowhere to run. Definitely nowhere to hide. The venom in the laughter pushing me so far away from the person or group that not even ten of my long-limbed arms could reach the source of such a sound if they wanted to.

//Jazmin is from the Bronx and is currently a second-year English Master's student at Georgetown University, where she focuses on critical race theory, semiotics, and Black womanhood and trauma as her interests. She loves stories and the art of storytelling, which have prompted her to work on her own creative voice.