The machine was not working. She pressed a button, but the machine would not work. She waited. She waited. She waited. The machine was not working.
She tapped the machine. The machine did not respond.
The machine was not working. The lights were on, but it was not working.
She decided to restart the machine. She held a button, but the machine would not turn off. The machine was on, but it was not working. The machine was not working and it would not turn off. The machine would not restart.
She attempted the restart again. Re-restart. Re-re-restart. Re-re-re-restart.
She unplugged the machine. She waited ten seconds. Ten seconds is the recommended wait time for machines that do not work. For ten seconds, she waited. The machine was off. The machine wasn’t working because it was off. Because it was off, the machine wasn’t working. The lights were off. The machine was off. She was waiting. She was waiting for the machine to work, but it wasn’t working so she turned it off to make it work and it wasn’t working because it was off so she waited and waited and waited for ten seconds.
At the eleventh second, she plugged in the machine. She waited for the machine to turn on. She was waiting for the machine. The machine was not working. The lights turned on. She thought that maybe the machine would work. The lights were on, but the machine wasn’t working. She waited. It took time to restart.
The machine wasn’t working. She tapped, she poked, she prodded, she inspected. Everything seemed fine. Except the machine wasn’t working. The lights were on, the machine was plugged in, electricity was flowing and it wasn’t working, wasn’t working, wasn’t working.
She needed the machine to work.
She needed the machine.
The machine wasn’t working.
She pressed a button. She attempted to restart the machine, but it refused to restart. She unplugged the machine. She waited. Five seconds. Then the machine was plugged in by her. She plugged in the machine.
The machine did not work.
She unplugged the machine. She plugged it in instantly. She did not wait.
The machine wasn’t working.
She unplugged, re-plugged, pressed, un-pressed, re-pressed, tapped, un-tapped, re-tapped, poked, un-poked, re-poked, prodded, un-prodded, re-prodded, inspected, re-inspected, pressed, re-pressed, re-pressed, re-pressed.
The machine wasn’t working.
She took a pair of scissors. She cut the cord.
The machine doesn’t work. It is broken.
She writes a sign that says, “Out of Order.”
The machine is out of order. The machine is broken. The machine doesn’t work.
She does not wait.
Tu me manques
A Lesson on Grammar:
“Tu me manques” in French translates to English as “I miss you.”
Tu: You (singular, informal)
If translated verbatim: You miss me.
When the world slept, I called your phone. The line rang and rang and rang. It never stopped ringing. In the echo of the unanswered rings, I heard the spring call of swallows. I heard white-tailed deer treading lightly on autumn leaves. I heard the ice cracking on a frozen river.
Under the hot heat of summer, I listened to the rings and I heard the universe.
I do not know who owns absence.
Absence is not mine to own.
I cannot be the subject of absence because it does not belong to me.
To whom does absence belong?
La terre. La lumière. The earth. The light.
I called your phone. Again.
You never set up your voicemail. I’ll never hear your voice again.
I want to hear you tell me to leave a message. Request me to leave a message. Command me to leave a message.
Demander. To ask. (It does not mean to demand.)
Ask me to leave a message.
Demand me to leave a message.
I want to leave you a message.
I would mail you a letter if I could. I would find a piece of paper and a pen. I prefer to write in black ink. If I could only find a pen with blue ink, I would accept it. I would take the paper and sit at a desk. Desks are for letter writing. I would put the pen to paper, but I wouldn’t be able to write. I would tell myself that I needed a break and eat lunch, and stare out the kitchen window. I would wash the dishes. I would suddenly remember that I had another engagement. I would grab my keys and dash out of the house. I would return late at night, too tired to write. I would sleep. I would wake up and look at the paper and think—Tomorrow.
I would mail you a letter if I could, but we both know I would never write that letter.
A Lesson on Context:
Salut means both hi and bye.
A voice is a thumbprint. Even without the definitiveness of words, a mother can distinguish her child’s cries in a crowded room. I think about the last time I heard your voice. When we talked last, I didn’t know it would be the last time we talked. I didn’t know that our final words would be our final words.
I would have recorded your voice. I would have had you read aloud the dictionary of every language so I could permit you to speak in all languages, in an infinite order. I would write a computer code that allowed your voice to construct every possible sentence, known and unknown, for all eternity.
Your voice would echo beyond time.
Sometimes, the space between us and
the space between words
seems too much.
I mostly think about how much I miss you. But sometimes, I wonder if you miss me too. I wonder if you think about my voice, about calling me, about leaving me a message. I wonder what message you would give me, if you could. Would it be something quotidian? Would you remind me to fold the laundry? Would you remind me to pick up bread and eggs at the store? Would it be something epic? Would you tell me a rousing tale of unknown heroes and heroines that somehow serve as a metaphor to my predicament? Would you recite a poem?
I think about the times you told me “Tu me manques” over the phone. I thought about how funny it was, this translation between these two languages that we used.
I can’t properly translate this feeling. Tu me manques. I miss you. Can you translate? If you could call me, would you translate? Please.
A Lesson on Loss:
I miss you.
You miss me.
Together, apart, we miss.
[YOU answer the phone.]
[YOU and ME hang up, unsure if we have said hello or goodbye or both.]
Hi. I just wanted to leave a message for you. It’s me. I’m just calling to say, I miss you. And I love you. And I’ll be home soon.