Carrie Wright
Twisted Pair Wire


I am too poor to travel and too lonely to be alone and so I prank call countries I would like to visit and speak with people I wish I could see. I don't just ask if the refrigerator is running or if Jim is there, or that kind of thing. I prank call beauty and passion to the desperately alone and foreign.

I start with Great Britain. An old man in tall socks and boxer shorts answers the phone. He is quite well spoken, I guess. He sounds like every English teacher I have ever had - that sort of beaked, twitchy, big vocabulary kind of voice. He is also as boring as every English teacher I have ever had. He is obviously depressed-being old and having drunk something dusty as Scotch too often. So I say - I am an American and I saw you out walking the other day and as we
passed a kind of soft wind swept between us-and do you remember-how our hands sort of touched because of that sudden and unusual breeze but, then our eyes decidedly, well, did not meet. My hand has remembered you with a kind of new lightness, and the rest of me wishes to feel the same, and please excuse me for calling and I hope I haven't troubled you . . .
he doesn't say anything for a time. I breathe carefully into the pause. Then he breaks into measured laughter and asks for my name.

 


 

I dial France and someone picks up the phone. And speaks. It is the voice of an Antoinette, of a woman who eats only roses wet with sugar. A woman with black hair, with black eyes and an extraordinarily long neck. I can hear that her skin is fine and smooth as Ophelia-as the dead who have been long in streams. She insists - hallooo, hallooo, but I am startled and say nothing. She hangs up. I dial her again because I know she has the bad teeth of Napoleon's lovers, because I know her body sparkles and stretches long in the arms, in the legs. I know she is exactly as I have always wanted to be.

I have continued to call her maybe a few more times in these last few minutes. But it is that sound of her, pouring out from her-from that ancient larynx, from the tightening of her soft antique throat that intrigues me. I have never heard anyone like her. I speak into the phone - I have never heard anyone like you. But she hangs up.

And so I call again, and this time - almost involuntarily I begin to hum to her. Hmmm hmmm hmm hm. A note that rings better in the room and seems to catch on the walls. She keeps speaking over me- but the slightest bit softer. And then a bit softer still. I can hear her begin to untangle inside until we are both quiet on the phone. We are together this way only a few seconds when a sob breaks from her. It starts in her stomach and tightens at her neck and then she is crying into the phone. It is a lament - long and drawn. Maybe she wants me to leave her alone, maybe she is just so much alone. Maybe she has been here for a thousand years waiting for someone to touch her mouth.

She is becoming dust and I am sad enough to die here with her. But I place the receiver down and wipe at my eyes.

 


 

It is me and a few red pillows and a box of sugar cones I am eating, and I am saving someone's life in Michigan, via twisted pair wire. When he picks up the phone I can hear the crackling blue energy snapping around in him. He and I are a part of the information age. Of blue architecture. Of women made out of metal. He knows the sound of my voice is the ocean, is the last tenderness. We are desperate together in coldness. He doesn't even say hello just - what.

What, I say back and kind of laugh. But this is so serious, I say - I know you are all about a strong jaw line and poems written on gigantic paper and that sort of thing and I know that gorgeous women dress in smoke and line up to shave you, I know that you are always loved and always bored and so I have called to do neither of those things - neither to love nor to b….

What?! He says, then chokes out - who is this- Jennifer, Jennifer is that
you. . .
Oh, my generation lives so much of its life as a talk show. I bury my head into one of the pillows to keep from laughing, I am so shocked and he is so mad at me or Jennifer or someone . . . obsessed, stop calling me we are so over and don't give me any of that we can still be friends because we never were friends, were we, I want you out of…

He sounds so mad and I am going to die in a second, I am laughing so hard and suffocating. I take the phone a little away from my ear and listen to him yell at me or her. I need to pull this together. For Jennifer. She must still love him, he is kind of something I guess-though not what I originally supposed. I pick up a sugar cone and crunch as loud as I can into the phone until I summon up a response. He is still ranting all the while, so I say -You know you really are a bore aren't you, well how about this, I will give you ten minutes to get to my house and for every minute thereafter I will burn one of your precious most loved things out in the driveway. I will start with, hmmm…

If you touch my Sebadoh records I'll kill you.

Well, then, I guess we'll start with Sebadoh. Ten minutes.

I slam down the phone and fall back on the pillows feeling a little sad.
There is nothing romantic about twenty year old men. Or Michigan.