Objective 21

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Chapter 4

Believe it or not, when I woke up the next morning, my mind was void of everything that had happened the night before. I rolled onto my back and blinked cluelessly at the ceiling of my bedroom. I stayed put for a bit, unable to get rid of the murk that’d coated the inside of my head, sort of like algae in a fishbowl.

Then I shifted my legs and felt the stiffness of denim jeans. That made me realize that I was still wearing the black-and-maroon flannel shirt that I’d jacked from my brother when he’d left for college, and that brought me to the conclusion that my hair was still held off my neck, knotted in a hair tie, and it most likely resembled a tumbleweed right about now.

I vaguely remembered stumbling into my house around five fifteen in the morning, and the last thing I had thought before I collapsed hard onto my mattress was, “Shit, I should really change out of these clothes.”

Well, as I rolled off the bed, still clad in my outfit from the night before, I took notice of the lack of light in my room and I figured that it was either still really early or I’d slept really late. However, upon further detective work (glancing at the numbers on the alarm clock and then out my window) I found that it was not early morning, nor was it late night; it was 1:37 in the afternoon, and just really shitty out.

The sky still hadn’t cleared from the storm the night before, but it wasn’t raining. Instead there was a thick layer of haze that covered the sun, and I could tell without even stepping outside that it was going to be one of those boiling, muggy days that we’d gotten our fair share of this June.

I stood up in the middle of the floor, one foot touching the hardwood planks and the other planted in a pile of clothes. I felt myself swaying from the tight pressure on my head. It was like someone had put a clamp on either side of my skull right above my temples—like a really bad hangover, only there hadn’t been any vodka involved to make me deserve this.

Slowly, with one hand on my forehead, I stumbled over to my computer chair and sank down into it. I shook the mouse back and forth, waiting for the screen to turn from a black display to my icon-packed desktop. This computer was slower than a snail on Valium, and it was just about as useless.

I absentmindedly skipped from website to website, typing things into the address bar out of straight habit more than anything else. Then, when nothing could hold my interest for more than a minute or so, I scanned down my buddy list to see if anyone was online.

My self-esteem took a massive hit upon realizing that, aside from my own screen name, none were present except for a handful of people in another time zone and a kid I knew from middle-school. He used to lick batteries.

Everyone else was on vacation, lying on the beach despite this weather, having ridiculous continuations of their parties from last night, at the mall, hospitalized… I was apparently the only one who’d run out of things to do, and we were barely one-fourth of the way through summer.

While I sat in the computer chair and blindly clicked on stuff, my mind started to wander through the happenings of last night. I wondered how Will was doing, and I thought about calling, but I figured he was still hopped up on massive amounts of morphine. I’d try to contact him later on.

Next I thought about the two objectives that I had yet to cross out on my bucket list, which was still in my back pocket, but I was too lazy to lift my ass three centimeters off the chair and take it out.

With that, Macon jumped to the forefront of my mind. When I realized that he’d been roped into witnessing my reactions to the aforementioned objectives, I wondered what kind of impression I’d made on him. I dwelled on that for a while, and I then decided that I must’ve come across as an impulsive, offensive, and altogether emotionally-unstable bitch.

With a sigh and an “oh-well” mentality, I shrugged it off. Win some, lose some, I decided, and it wasn’t as if I’d ever have to see him again.

Just because his name was running through my head, I typed it into the search engine. I’m sure I did it for no reason other than to see what would come up. It was as if I was testing his actuality or something—last night had seemed like a vague dream, and I felt as though he barely existed outside of it. About three down, I found a White Pages link that repeated the name, separated by an ellipsis, over and over again. I clicked on it and scrolled through the results.

There was a Macon Prindle from California, and a Malory Prindall from Ohio, and then there was a Macon Prindalle from Colorado. Just as I was about to close out of the web browser, one entry caught my eye.

Macon Prindall

Bronx, New York, 10452

Age: 18-24

I stared at the font on the screen. I’d just typed his name in for kicks, but if I’d actually been trying to find information on him, I would’ve thought it’d be under his parents’ names. I didn’t pin him as that much older than me; it was my original assumption that he would still live at home, but the more I thought about it, it was very possible that he lived on his own already.

With some real motivation to move my ass three centimeters off the computer chair, I took the list out and scribbled the phone number across the very top of the paper. Then I picked up the cordless phone (the one hooked up to the landline, as my cell phone was still dead and as useful as a rock with an antenna) and absentmindedly dialed the ten digits underneath his information. I tapped my foot against the air while leaning back in my seat.

The phone rang five, six, seven times, and then I heard a mechanical clicking noise on the other end. “Hey, it’s Macon. I can’t get to the phone. This is the part where you tell me what you want. Go.”

It didn’t sound like his voice, really, but then again, the message had been short and kind of mumbled, and the static had made it almost inaudible. I wondered if maybe his answering machine was as old as his cell phone.

I sat there, listening intently, as if I would somehow get sensible proof that it really was the guy I’d met last night. The thought that I’d just picked up the phone and called him seemingly did not process in my brain. I wasn’t even fully aware of what I’d done until the sound of the beep snapped me back into reality.

In the presence of the echoic silence on the other end, I choked. A lump made its way into the back of my throat, and I could feel a surge of hot blood through my limbs. I heavily debated hanging up the phone, but now there was already a half-minute-long recording of my breathing on this kid’s answering machine, so I forced some words out instead.

“Hi Macon,” I spoke. Then I cleared my throat. “Yeah, I’m not even sure if this is the Macon.” I paused. “The right Macon, I mean. I looked you up on White Pages and got a whole lot of results, so…”

Upon realizing what had just come out of my mouth, my spine turned into a flagpole. My computer chair creaked at the sudden shift of weight. “Hold on, wait. I’m not a creeper. I promise I’m not a creeper. Oh Jesus fucking Christ.” I shut my eyes tight and smacked my forehead into the palm of my hand.

“Is there any way to delete this message?” I mumbled, entirely to myself, but I’m sure the machine picked up my voice. I pulled the receiver away and looked at the buttons on the keypad, hoping to see one that said something along the lines of, “Press to delete evidence that you’re an embarrassing loser.”

“Yeah, guess not.” I grudgingly put the phone back up to my ear. “Look, it’s Andy.” Then I creased my forehead. “Except that means nothing to you, because I don’t even think I ever told you my name,” I said. “I’m the girl from last night, at the venue. The one who seemed to show up all over the place and give you hell, granted this is the right Macon and all, and—”

I heard a click on the other end and I froze. At first I thought I’d used up all the room on answering-machine tape, but then I heard, “Hello? Andy?”

“Macon?”

“Yeah.” Unlike the answering-machine version, this voice sounded like his. Macon’s breathing was heavy. “I had work. I just walked in the door.”

“Oh.” I blinked stupidly for a few seconds. “Did you hear my message?”

“Just the tail-end,” Macon replied. “Why?”

“Do me a favor,” I asked.

“What’s that?”

“Delete it.”

He half laughed, but it sounded uneasy—forced, almost. “I can’t…You know, listen to it first?”

“Yes. No. Don’t even listen to it. Delete it. Just delete it.”

“Alright,” he murmured.

There was an awkward silence then, and I could practically hear his eyes shifting in discomfort. I stood up from my chair and went to go pace, but I kept tripping over the piles of clothes on the floor, so I just stumbled over to my bed and sat cross-legged on it.

“So. What’s up?”

“Nothing,” I replied. I said the word strictly out of habit, but it really couldn’t have been closer to the truth.

Even over the phone, I could sense the mocking half-smile, both in his inflection and his timing. “You just called to, you know, say hello?”

“Yes.” Then, immediately after, “No.”

“Make up your mind, woman.”

No, I hadn’t called just to say hello. That ranks as stalker-material right there. But I didn’t necessarily think that the excuse, “I might as well be shitfaced when I first wake up, because without even realizing what I was doing, I lurked around, obtained your phone number, dialed it, and then left a rather unsettling message on your machine,” was going to cut it, either. Before I could think twice about it, I had rattled the words, “I want to make last night up to you.”

In all honesty, I really did want to make it up to him. What kind of unappreciative bitch would I had been otherwise? But I hadn’t actually planned on doing anything about it. Well, desperate times, I guess.

Macon paused for a second. “What?”

“Last night,” I said. “I was a huge pain in your ass, and you didn’t have to help me, and you did anyway, and I really owe you one.”

“I already told you,” Macon replied. “Don’t mention it.”

Though I wanted nothing more than to drop this and hang up the phone and wallow in my embarrassment, I wasn’t about to let three words beat my argument. How genuine would that have seemed?

“Seriously, dude.”

“Seriously, dudette.”

I rolled my eyes, but a smile pulled at the corner of my mouth anyway. “Look, I’m going to make this up to you either with your consent or without it,” I stated, trying to feign something close to an I’m-so-intimidating veneer.

“Pffft,” Macon scoffed. “What’re you, four-foot-eleven?”

“Five-foot-two!”

“I’ll take your threats seriously when you invest in a stepstool.”

“Original. Don’t change the subject.”

Macon made a clicking noise with his tongue, apparently considering it. “Whatever, Andy,” he finally decided. “If it’s that important to you, then alright. Sure.”

At the sound of those words, I felt like a lawyer who’d just presented some rock-solid evidence—I felt commendable, although I had no fucking idea why. With that commendability, my comforting thoughts on the matter were out the window. So much for the reassurances that told me I’d never have to see him again.


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