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Nicole Zhu, 10 Oct '12

        Cecilia called again. As usual, I waited five rings to answer. I hoped that she would give up by then. As usual, she did not.
        She asked if I was busy (i.e. how long can she talk to me). I told her I was just taking a break from my work. I had a pile of briefs to read. She asked about my boyfriend (i.e. do you have more time in your social calendar for me). I told her that things were good. I just said “yes” to his proposal three nights ago. She asked if I had plans later in the week (i.e. can we meet face-to-face). I told her that I had a presentation the following week and would be working through the weekend. I had plans to take advantage of my Netflix account.
        I asked her how she was holding up (i.e. how’s the depression). She told me that her sessions with her therapist were helping. I asked her how she liked the therapist (i.e. since you pay this woman to converse, does that mean shorter phone calls to me). She told me that they were dredging up some painful memories. I asked her if she wanted to talk about the painful memories (i.e. keep talking so I don’t have to come up with more questions to ask you). She told me that she would rather save it for a session with her therapist.
        My courteous question bank exhausted, Cecilia launched into her Daily Ramblings (issues of bagel slicing, her new detergent, a particularly prickly bush she walked into the other day). I interjected with occasional noises of agreement – “mmhmm” and “ yeah totally” and “I know what you mean.”
        I checked the clock on the wall. It ticked away the minimum Friendship Phone Time I had allotted to Cecilia.
        I interjected her discussion of nail biting. I told her I had another call waiting. As usual, she asked if I could talk for another two minutes. As usual, I could not.

Comments · 4

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  • Nicole Zhu said...

    Character sketch in response to David Foster Wallace's "The Depressed Person" http://harpers.org/media/pdf/dfw/HarpersMagazine-1998-01-0059425.pdf

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Jean Woest said...

    Wow really great work. I like how your interjections of the true meanings behind the normal conversation add a sort of edge to the characters and also creates a kind of tension in the conversation that you ended very well. Great conclusion!

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    I loved the bracketed REAL meanings behind the conversation going on, it's honest and relatable. There's no background or even speech in the phone call but you characterised well and I could picture the characters. This was a great read!

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Susie Shircliff said...

    I, too, really loved the bracketing! I kinda wish as a punch that it had stayed towards the end. Like the "I could not." What does she really mean?
    Kudos! Love love love!

    • Posted 7 years ago