She didn’t call the next day, but he wasn’t expecting her to. He had it all planned. First she’d spent a day reading the letter and trying to take in the enormity of his feelings. Then, she’d probably spend a day talking to all of her friends, maybe nervous of how to get in touch, even though he’d made it clear that all she had to do was ring his parents’ house during the afternoon when they were both at work. He knew there was a call box at the end of her corridor – he’d tested it on the way out of the halls. It was going to be easy to get in touch. But he knew she’d be nervous. Who wouldn’t be. This was a major decision.
Then he reckoned that, after her friends had told her how lovely he seemed, from the six hundred and twenty eight words he’d written to her (he’d counted them just to find out how much he’d had to say compared to, say the essay he was due to submit in school the following week that was still struggling at the three hundred mark), she’d spend a day composing her own thoughts.
So, three days had passed. The phone still hadn’t rung yet. But he could feel that it was about to.
As the silence of the empty house seemed to grow louder, as though the air pressure was getting higher and higher and squeezing his head to heighten his senses, the phone rang, the mechanical bell mechanism drawing him back down to earth with the sudden reality that contact had been made. There was someone there.
Gingerly, he picked up the receiver. Total silence. Who was on the other end? Nobody spoke. Then he heard the sound of an entire room full of girls letting loose their stifled giggles. He could hear a voice among the crowd, but whatever it was saying was lost in the ringing of his ears. As their laughter reached its crescendo, he replaced the handset. The roaring of their scorn stayed with him until that summer. He could joke about it, but it was never truly funny.