By: Anthony Ward
A hoot from his phone woke him up. It was a tawny owl notifying him that a message had materialised. He picked up his phone while trying to wrench his eyes open. He was so tired that at first all he could read were the words Good night. But, as it began to dawn on him that it wasn’t night, his eyes adjusted to the light blaring from the screen, and the rest of the words began to kaleidoscope into the remedial sentence, last night?
Last night? he thought. What happened last night? He read the sentence over. Good night last night!
It was from Dylan. Dylan? Why was Dylan messaging him Good night last night? He thought over last night. It had been a pretty bland night. As bland as the steak he’d cooked himself. Then he’d watched the shite that was on tv. He scrolled the blue screen for about an hour searching for something to watch, before settling on some reality tv show simply because one of the girls was alright. Why else would anyone watch that shit? he consolidated himself while trying to shrug off the memory.
He read the message again. Good night last night?
Was it? he texted back. What do I care? he thought. I wasn’t there.
You don’t remember?
Remember what? he typed, shaking his head. I wasn’t even there.
Yeah. You were well gone, came the reply.
Has he got the right person? He thought to himself. This is Sean you’re texting right?
Sean! I know.
Well, I don’t know which Sean you were out with last night, but it wasn’t me. I wasn’t out last night.
Up to now the texts had pretty much been back and forth, but now Sean found himself waiting.
You were out alright. Completely out of it.
I think YOU must have been out of it. I wasn’t even there. I was here all night. At home.
Don’t try denying it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We’ve all done it.
Done what? I wasn’t out last night.
You don’t remember Samantha?
Samantha. Sean remembered Samantha. He’d been besotted with her for some time. They got on well together. But she’d been seeing Sebastian for over a year now.
He couldn’t see what she saw in Sebastian. He was like one of those characters from the reality tv programme he had watched last night. In fact, he thought of Sebastian every time Rick was on screen. And every time Rick was on screen, he would be reminded of Samantha. Maybe that was why he kept watching. To be reminded of Samantha. Even though it plagued him.
Yeah Samantha. You two were getting along famously.
I don’t know what you’re on about.
Come on. Tell me what happened?
Sean checked the text to see if it was Dylan’s number. Of-course it was Dylan’s number, otherwise his name wouldn’t come up. He thought for a while and began questioning himself. You definitely stopped in last night? You didn’t go out? No, I didn’t go out. I cooked steak. It was bland. He answered himself.
He began to question his sanity. Dylan seemed quite convinced he was there last night that Sean no longer knew whether he was here at all.
I’m telling you I wasn’t out.
I’m telling you; you were.
I think I’d know whether I was out or not.
Well clearly you don’t because you were.
Sean began to mull it over. He could see himself sitting outside The Swan with Samantha, watching the boats row by, while she sipped her drink through a straw, snorting bubbles as she laughed. How he loved it when she laughed. Running his fingers through her hair. Her gleaming eyes splashing over him. Telling him that she loved him. Then the kiss. The kiss he’d been waiting for since the first time she spoke to him. This is how Sean imagined it happening. But he couldn’t have imagined it as actually happened.
He walked into the kitchen, and sure enough the grill pan had been washed and was left to drain. There were morsels of over chewed steak in the bin. The reality tv he had watched was scheduled for the previous night. Dylan must be winding him up surely. He checked his messages on his phone and recent calls. Samantha had called him at twelve fifteen. Why would Samantha call him? She’s never called before. He pressed call-back. Then hung up immediately. What would I say? he thought to himself. That I don’t remember last night? Even though he thought he’d remembered last night really well.
He texted Samantha. Hi! Sorry I missed your call.
Hi Sean! What call? I didn’t call you, came the reply.
I had a missed call from you on my phone.
Sorry, there’s nothing on my phone. Are you sure it was me?
Sean wasn’t sure of anything anymore.
You must have called me by accident.
Sorry. I don’t remember.
You didn’t call around twelve fifteen?
Twelve fifteen. I was at home asleep.
So, you weren’t out last night?
No. I was at home all night. Why?
It’s just Dylan said we were both out last night.
Dylan said we were both out last night. I was home alone all last night.
Sean felt somewhat dismayed by her answer. Nothing had happened last night. Though he felt relieved by the fact that Dylan was obviously just having him on.
He texted Dylan. I’ve just texted Samantha. She said she wasn’t out last night either. She was home by herself all night.
Dylan sent him a photo of himself with his arms around Samantha and Sebastian in the Swan.
That could have been taken any time. He replied.
Sean decided to dry the grill pan and plate and put them away as he waited for Dylan to reply.
His phone hooted and he lurched to pick it up from the bench.
It was from Sebastian. Have you heard what happened to Dylan?
No. What happened?
He got into a fight outside The Swan, and someone bottled him.
No way. He’s just been texting me. He seemed fine.
Sean shuddered when he read the words, but then consoled himself and texted back.
You’re winding me up. He’s just been texting me.
A few months after Dylan’s funeral, Sean was sitting outside the Swan with Samantha watching the boats row by. Samantha was no longer with Sebastian. Samantha was with Sean. Her eyes splashed all over him as she told him she loved him. Then Sean began to think about Dylan. Samantha sensed the change in his face.
‘What’s wrong?’ She asked.
‘I still can’t get those texts that Dylan sent out of my mind.’
‘Those texts I got the morning he died.’
Samantha looked confused.
‘You know. I texted you that morning.’
‘You texted me that morning? I don’t remember any texts.’