From the Anthology 

Pandemic Writing

“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity," wrote T.S. Eliot. To help make productive use of our self-isolation and social distancing, Lit Cleveland is offering free writing challenges each week via our newsletter. The following piece is a response to the Parallax prompt.

Lonely with You

by Matt Daugherty

“How was your day?”

It felt so good to hear those words again. She always made a point to text me that question every day in the past, but to hear her voice actually ask me how my day had been was so comforting. It didn’t matter that I heard her say that every day for the last week. Each time the words would lodge themselves deep in my heart and with every successive beat would spread throughout my veins until her warmth touched every corner of my body.

I sat down on the couch with my phone in hand. It had become a ritual for us at this point to FaceTime when she finished her work for the day. This was usually around 8:15 my time, 5:15 her time.

“Fine” I did my best exaggerated shrug to make sure she could see it. “I just did the usual. Watched some Netflix, played some video games, attempted to stave off the overbearing sense of dread and existential anxiety.”  

She giggled in response. Her smile lit up my dark, mostly-empty apartment despite being a blurry flash on my cracked phone screen.

“What? You’re not going out and about all over town?” She joked.

“Why would I go outside? I’ve got all I need right here in front of me.”

She rolled her eyes and tried to feign annoyance, but I could see through it.

“Have you heard anything about work?” She tried to bring the conversation back to reality.

“Yeah my boss texted me today and said they’re probably gonna have to cut staff. Is it wrong that I’m excited about that?”

She laughed again and again I could feel her happiness reach me through the phone.

“So you’ve started packing your bags for Seattle already?”

Now it was my turn to laugh. I saw her smile widen from seeing me happy, which only made me happier, which made her smile grow even wider. This took place in an instant, but I wanted it to last forever.

“Well I think I should wait for this to blow over a bit first, but yeah. Looks like I’ll be cutting your vacation away from me short by a few months.” I could see her eyes start to water, and knew I had to change the subject because if she started crying then I’d start crying too, and I’m an ugly cryer. “How was your day?”

“It’s…”  she wiped the corners of her eyes as she let out a deep sigh. “honestly been really hard. Like, I’ve been so lonely since I moved out here and now it’s just gotten so much worse, so thank you for FaceTiming every night.”  

“Of course” I replied, happy that for the first time since this whole thing started I was serving a purpose, no matter how small.  

She smiled from ear-to-ear.

“If I have to be lonely I’m glad I can at least be lonely with you.”