When they were together they were as close as people can be. Their cheeks would press against each other. He would kiss her on the lips, touch her face, pull her body close to his and let her feel his heart beat. All he would need to do for her to hear him was whisper. His face would be right next to hers, his mouth would be beside her ear. His voice would be soft but loud and clear. She would hear every nuance and inflection. That was how intimate they were, they could be quiet and still be heard.
As the distance began to creep in on them, he found that closeness waning. He would start calling to her from another room. Maybe he’d be in the living room and she’d be in the kitchen with the fan on. He’d shout something about one of her shows being on television, but she wouldn’t hear him. Then they would yell back and forth without understanding what either were saying. Maybe he was in the bathroom and needed her to get him some toilet paper. He’d call for her, she would hear him, but not hear what he needed. She would shout, “I can’t hear you.” He would respond with, “Yes, toilet paper.” He realized how distant they had become now that they were both so loud, but misheard.
Now there was a complete separation. No longer was she listening for him. He was still calling for her, however. He felt like he was standing in a long white hallway with 80 doors, 40 on either side. She was in one of the rooms, but he didn’t know which one. He shouted for her. He called loudly hoping she would hear him. His voice echoed down the corridor, bouncing off the doors and the rattling through the whiteness. If she did hear him, she didn’t respond. He started running down the hall, continuing to shout and opening the doors as he went, looking inside the rooms for her. Each room brought him disappointment. She wasn’t in the first 20, but instead of this making him disheartened, he told himself he now had narrowed his search down to 60 rooms.
He continued to call for her, opening doors and saying her name to the expressionless faces that turned to see him. Each room was bland and filled with miserable, grey skinned people. The shuffle of his feet echoing along with his voice mixed with the murmuring din of the strangers that continued to look at him with their bloodshot eyes. He longed for a door to swing open and for him to see her warm brown skin, light brown eyes illuminating the bright, but cold white hallway.
“I love you. I need you!” he shouted over the creaking and slamming of each door.
Finally, he had opened every door and called into every room for her. His chest was burning, his voice was hoarse and his brow was wet. He sat against the white wall beside the door he had first opened and put his head between his knees. He breathed heavy dry breaths with a cottony mouth. He looked down the passage, startled by some movement, hoping it was her. It was just one of the colourless people peering out of one of the doors and then slowly shutting it slowly with a depressing creak.
Then it dawned on him, he didn’t know where she was. He couldn’t reach her with his voice anymore, he didn’t know what room she was in, but more so, he didn’t know where the room was. It wasn’t down this corridor, it was somewhere his voice couldn’t reach no matter how loud he yelled. Did he ever know where she was? Had he ever really realized how close she had been? When he yelled from the bathroom, he had assumed she would hear, he had assumed she had understood, but had he even thought about where she had put herself? Now, with her completely lost to him, her location a mystery, he understood where she had been and why.
She had loved him and put her ear close to his mouth. He put himself in another room, at a distance, but she still listened for him. She was still willing to try to understand him. And now he had gone far enough away from her, pushed her far enough away, that he no longer knew where she was or how to find her. Maybe she was still listening for him, but he was still too far away. Or maybe he was just saying things that she could never hear. This hall was so loud, but he hated that all he could hear was himself.