New Beginning, Lost Love


The safest time to call the number you typed into your phone with sweaty fingers is at least six months after you first make fleeting eye-contact with the man across the bar who gave it to you. Six months is an adequate amount of time to show him how not-clingy you are, how nonchalant, enough time for him to forget that he gave you his number at all. You’ll have a laugh about it, then he’ll tell you that he’s gotten back together with an ex and you’ll say it didn’t matter anyway because you weren’t that interested in the first place. Coming across that name as you scrolled the list of your phone contacts just probed some memories that begged to be revisited.


Wait an entire year and he’ll forget that you tore the labels off so many beer bottles that evening, so you had something to do with your hands while he told you about his job and his dog and his grandma in Florida. He’ll forget how much he had to drink, the way he danced, breathing into your ear even though you hate when people breathe into your ears. If he’s lonely enough he’ll ask you out for coffee or something that doesn’t remind him of all the girls who’ve never called him back. Think about it for a second, but not longer; you’ve already kept him waiting a year. You’ll end up at some out-of-style café downtown and whether he shows up or not, you’ll leave with a heavy feeling that things between the two of you just won’t work out.


Two years is enough time for him to claim that he never met you at all. You’ll repeat your name three times, insist that he’s kidding, and finally give up. You have the wrong number. Enough time has passed to dull that memory of hot breath in your ear. He still sounds attractive over the phone. It’ll remind you of the Christmas cards you’ll never send, the two of you and his dog smiling in white sweaters while a Christmas tree twinkles in the background.


Wait ten years after that night and it’s no longer his phone number at all, but a young couple moving in together for the first time. They’ll ask to hear your story, and you’ll tell them, only slightly exaggerating your lost love. After all, one day they might tell their child your odd little story, sitting around the dinner table one Friday night, and you want it to be entertaining. The young couple will listen to you patiently, and then insist that they have a lot of work to do and thank you but they have to go. You’ll dwell over the phone for a while after they hang up. Then you’ll drink coffee and think that a long time ago, that could have been you.


Megan Zawilinski is a therapist and writer living in Cleveland, OH. In her work, she enjoys exploring facets of the human experience from unique angles, creating meaning from the mundane. Megan holds an MSW from the Ohio State University and is currently pursuing an AA in Studio Art from Cuyahoga Community College.