no where near
He calls from the second floor bedroom in the small brick house his uncle keeps that I can picture but couldn’t find again somewhere near London. I can hear him tapping his left heel on the dark hardwood floor in the silent spaces of our conversation. I know it perfectly -- can picture it happening, because it’s what he always does. Slow measured pulls from somewhere deep in the calf. I remember how in movies the constant movement used to drive me crazy. How in bed the rhythm always put me to sleep. I’d forgotten how foreign his voice sounds. The way he clips certain words. Clicks others with his tongue. I’d forgotten how even the most mundane conversations are barely decipherable through his ultra-academic posture. He ignores my sarcasm, the slight mockery of tone, and fails to notice my disinterest. The only time he pauses, slightly, and then scolds – when I call him Professor X rather than his first name – which I’ve always used since the day we met. He never was my professor. Please don’t, he says full of pretension, before moving the conversation along.
He’s wishing I were back in England for the summer, because he’s off tomorrow to visit friends near Oxford. They’re his friends, but during conversation he’s kind enough to refer to them as ‘our friends.’ He says that he misses me. Then, sighs. I realize throughout the entire conversation, he’s been whispering. It’s clear we never understood one another. I intentionally say things that will hurt his feelings, then ask how he got my new number. I tell him that I’d rather he didn’t call again. He’s leaving England for India in a few days. I wish him well. He says he still wishes that I were there.