A college student struggles with her long-distance relationship.

            Another ring came through my headphones. I spun around. Incoming call: Joey Gallagher. I knew he would call back. He always did. My neck cramped, feeling the weight of my head, and I pushed the heel of my hand along my brow. I couldn’t avoid this anymore.

Accept.

            “Hey babe, where were you?”

            I let my hand fall from my face, my lips lifting for a second as the black vanished and his face slowly grew in the window. I pressed fullscreen. His eyes were nearly as big and round as I remember them. I looked closely, no longer holding back my smile. I searched for my reflection in his brown eyes. They were flat, black. The only light in them was the white of the screen. I dropped my eyes to the keys.

            “Babe? Did you hear me?”

            I had forgotten that he was there. I force my lips to stretch back, barely exposing my teeth. I looked up to him. I could tell he was looking into my eyes, too, as they softly swayed back and forth, searching for an answer.

            “I’m sorry, honey. It’s been a long day.”

            He dragged his seat forward, pursing his lips as he avoided the camera. I watch the way his shoulders lifted forwards, circling in like a cradle for my head. It was strong and soft, like him. He brought his face close to the screen and took a slow breath before letting his voice out.

            “I wish I was with you.”

            I loved the way his eyes scrunched in the corners, wrinkling with every word he struggled to get out. I remembered lying next to him, watching those wrinkles as I’d burrow my nose his chest, leaning on his shoulder. He’d look down through his long lashes and smile as I hid my smirk in him. I leaned in. His lips were red. He kept talking. I watched his lips curl and stretch. My arm lifted, leading my fingers to the screen. They touched his chin. It was warm. I pushed up along the edge of his scruffy jaw, still enchanted by the movement of his lips. They didn’t scratch at my skin. My eyes began to burn. I always complained that stupid beard scratched me. I dug my nails into the screen, daring it to feel me, to scratch me back. I sucked in my bottom lip, scrunching my toes, nails turning white as I dragged them down the screen.

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