Her voice wavered on the end of the line, the fragile tone almost lost in in a sea of static. Even so he could hear the reticence in her voice, calling was a mistake. She spoke in little more than a whisper, to avoid waking her new lover ‘Graham, I thought we agreed that you wouldn’t call this number again.’
“Agreed? I didn’t agree to shit. You told me I wasn’t allowed to-“ She was gone. He threw his phone away in disgust. That was the trouble with mobile phones, there was no satisfying ‘click’ of the hang up, and there wasn’t anywhere to slam them.
Graham struggled to pull himself to an upright position. Junk clattered and fell away as he pulled the blanket up around him. The pre-dawn white light filtered through a crack in the blinds, he’d fallen asleep on the couch again; his bed was littered with too much stuff to sleep comfortably in. He navigated a path through the debris and almost made it to the kitchen unscathed. His foot caught on something as he attempted the last hop, rubbish was sent flying. A little more ground gained by the mess that was taking over the lounge.
Graham stumbled through the kitchen door. The coffee jar was empty again, so he opened a can of fizz. He was comforted more by the familiar sound of it’s opening than the caffeine. He caught his reflection in one of the pots left on the stove - last night’s curry caked on its sides already - and cringed. At least three days’ worth of unruly stubble, caked in some unknown foreign substance covered his face; the dark blue circles under his bloodshot eyes suggested a fight, but there had been no such thing; in short, it was a mess.
He tried to get a better look in the kitchen window, but was blinded by the fluorescent light which obnoxiously shone through all night. “Fuck” he muttered under his breath. A path to the bathroom had already been cleared, an expressway in case of emergency. On the way he picked up and reassembled his phone. Turning on the light was a mistake; the intensity of the heat lamp hit him like an explosion. He clamped his eyes shut, but it bore through them illuminating the blood vessels bright red. As his pupils struggled to regain a semblance of functionality he finished the drink. He threw the can against the wall, bouncing it into the overflowing bin.
For a long time Graham stood studying his face in the mirror; his eyes lingered on the streaks of grey permeating the remnants of his jet black hair, while he traced across the familiar pockmarks and scars with his trembling fingers. In his other hand he held his phone, finger hovering over the dial button. Eventually, he sighed and pressed the little green button.
“Christ Dad, it’s five in the morning. I have work in three hours. Why the hell are you even awake?”
“I was just thinking, I mean-uh- how do you feel about breakfast?” Graham replied.
“You know this is the first I’ve heard from you in what… a year? Besides you’re not supposed to see me until the papers are finalised, you know that. I’m going to try and get back to sleep. Five in the morning actually means something to a functional adult, take a fucking look at yourself Dad.”
His world didn’t change, there was no great revelation. Everything remained exactly like it was, but it was as if the focus suddenly sharpened. His latest addition to the pile of empty scotch and coke cans was staring Graham right in the face. He knew the kitchen and lounge would be full of empty cans and bottles, he’d been tripping over them all morning, but he wasn’t prepared to deal with that just yet. ‘Fuck’ he said, as he stared at the stranger in the mirror.