"Okay," he said. "I gotta go sleep. It's almost one."
"Okay," I said.
"Okay," he said.
I giggled and said, "Okay." And then the line was quiet but not dead. I almost felt like he was there in my room with me, but in a way it was better, like I was not in my room and he was not in his, but instead we were together in some invisible and tenuous third space that could only be visited on the phone.
The Fault In Our Stars
In Primary 4 Yan Hua and I would talk to each other for hours on the phone. And there was nothing much to talk about so we did stupid things like "what are you eating?" "cereal, do you want some?" "mm yeah push it through the telephone holes" *SCRUNCHSCRUNCHSCRUNCH* "did you get it?" "yes i did! yummmm!". And sometimes there was silence, especially if one of us was eating, and that was okay, because we still had company. I could be lazing on my couch completely unglam and it was fine because I had the liberty of privacy, but also the comfort of company. At times we'd just leave the phone on, perhaps glued to our ears, while we did our own things just not talking to each other at all. And when we eventually decided to hang up it would feel lonely, even though it was just as silent as before.
I never knew how to describe it. It's just the comfort of knowing someone's kind of there, listening out for you, making the effort to be with you, even if not physically. And sometimes being on the phone is even better than being together in real life because you still have your own privacy - you could be wearing a green face mask or in your undies or in the shower and it wouldn't matter at all. The third space.