I'm interrupted from some unimportant dream by my cell phone, a popular radio tune blaring in a gritty, flat tone that seems far louder in comparison to the silence of a sleeping house. It sends my heart into overdrive, startling my brain and snapping me into consciousness far too quickly.
I roll over automatically, a struggle with the already-tangled pair of blankets on top of me, and grab the phone before the song is even half over.
I squint my eyes to focus on the screen, even though after years of interruptions like this, I should really know who's calling.
I smile a little as I flip the phone open and press TALK, yawning as I bring the phone to my ear, only slightly for emphasis.
"Hi," his voice is serenely quiet, but without a trace of fatigue. Clearly, he's only beginning to unwind now, at whatever-the-hell o'clock in the morning it is.
"Hey..." I say in validation, opening my eyes wide and blinking repeatedly. I turn onto my back again and pull the covers beneath my chin. "How are you?"
"Good... what are you doing?"
Even though he asks me this every single time, it never ceases to amaze me that he wouldn't assume I was sleeping at this hour, like any normal human being would be. I indulge him anyway, "I was sleeping..." then quickly adding "but that's okay," so he didn't feel badly about it. "You?"
"Nothing really, just lying here." I closed my eyes and immediately saw him in my head, naked beneath the blanket on his queen mattress with the wooden headboard and frame, the phone likely resting on one side of his face, or perhaps being held there if he's laying as I am. His calm voice paints his expression in the dark, and suddenly he feels much closer to me. Perhaps a town away, rather than a state or two.
"What'd you do today?" I recited, the beginnings of our conversations always starting the same way, like a dull opening scene to what ends up being a very interesting play.
I could've answered for him. "Not much really..."
"Hmm," I said. I was about to prepare my next question when I heard his breath catch, and a low "I..." spoken, before he went silent again.
"Everything okay?" My voice is no longer automatic, but genuinely concerned.
"Yeah," he said, but I could tell that there was more to it, and that he would tell me. When you know someone long enough, you start to just pick up on it. Call it intuition if you will, but I just knew this would soon become more than our typical three AM phone call.
"I just..." he chuckled very quietly, and I strained to make sure I don't miss anything. "I'm just tired of not being who I really am." My silence suggested I had no idea what he was talking about, so he continued. "All my life... I have been pretending to be someone I'm not. I've been living a lie," he sighed helplessly, "And I'm just so tired of living this way. It's such bullshit, all I do is lie. I mean... you and Vincent (his friend since he was small) are the only ones who really understand.