the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Last Call


I haven’t spoken to Sophia in three months.

I have been reluctant to mention this to you, fearing you think I am hopelessly pining for us to get back together, which is not the case at all.  But I’m a sentimental fool, and I was still hoping for a different sort of ending to our long journey together, one where we could joke with each other about our new lives post-divorce, like two ex-lovers in a romantic comedy. Instead, we burned bridges.

I was depressed about this for a month, as if the past dozen years were a waste of my time, but as time crept on, I acknowledged that sometimes you need to learn, love, grow, and move on. By month three, I found myself spending more time worrying about a faraway woman in New Zealand than making peace with the past.

The first week after the blowout was intense. She blocked my phone number. She blocked my landline and my cell phone.  She blocked my mother’s cell phone.  My last attempt to fix things was one of pure desperation — walking down the block to the public phone outside the liquor store, a spot usually reserved for lonely late night phone card calls to foreign countries.

I placed four quarters into the slot. I wiped the receiver with my t-shirt, concerned about exotic germs. I dialed Sophia’s home number. And nothing. I lost all of my money. The phone was rigged the phone so the coins became stuck in the slot. I battered the phone with my fist, like a bully.  The phone laughed at me.

“Fuck it,” I said, taking it as a sign not to call her again.

Not everything has to be tied up together neatly like a fictional story.  Sometimes the tale just ends, without a moral.


  1. Alma

    you had me hoping that there was still a working public pay phone out there… true not everything is the way was, sometimes it just ends without a sensible closure

  2. Marinka

    She knows how to reach you.

  3. Christie

    I know I have reached true desperation when I find myself using a public payphone. I’m usually calling my therapist and it’s never good. Also, is there a way to have your posts come via email? I can’t tell if your blog is set up to do that. I wish it was. And maybe it is but I can’t see it.

    • Neil

      I didn’t even realize I do have a subscribe to email with Feedburner. I put the link up on the sidebar. Tell me if it works for you.

      • Christie

        It worked. I wish everything was that easy. Thanks.

  4. liz

    i just want to give you a kiss right on your forehead right now (in an “oh yes it does sometimes end with a fuck it” understanding sort of kiss on the forehead way). and then we could go get coffee and you could tell me a story and I’d read you my new favorite poem that i found this morning that took my breath away (Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye).

    • Neil

      Reading it now.

    • Alexandra

      god, what a poem. THANK YOU.

  5. Janene

    Wow, well written. I can feel all the emotions and can sympathize with what you are going through. As Marinka said, she knows how to reach you. 🙁

  6. Megan

    This is the universe telling you it’s done. Onward. 😉

  7. Shannon akaMonty

    Sometimes the best, most interesting stories don’t have a happy ending. Plus this is just the end of one chapter. Also? “Closure” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – I’ve never found any particular relief when I get it. Mosey on down the road.

  8. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    You can’t see it now, but this is the best way for *this* relationship to end.

  9. Louise

    I am new to this space…I don’t know the back story, but I do understand why you “needed” her to pick up the phone. Despite our mistakes and our shortcomings we just need to know that if we were loved once, we can be loved always. I’m sad to know you carry this hurt.

  10. Linda

    It’s symbolic really. Look at your cell phone and think how you’ve moved on from that pay phone. Look at Juli and think how you’ve moved on. One receiver hangs up and another one picks up.

  11. Cheney

    I let go of an important relationship recently too, and I know how it feels, sort of weird and unexpected when things just end, when you let them go and don’t focus all of your attention on holding on to them. I feel like there’s something missing and yet at the same time feel an incredible amount of peace in reaching the end of a relationship that wasn’t good for me. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Angella

    I don’t know what to say, but wanted to say you’re more than fine. xo

  13. Danny

    This makes me simultaneously sad and happy for both of you. It’s the only way. At least for now.

  14. kateanon

    When my godmother died last November, I thought of my ex, and how he’d be sad. I have no way to call him, when he remarried he changed all his numbers. I don’t know why I even wanted to talk, but I did. He emailed about a week later, hearing of the news through the grapevine. It’s strange how things change, the person who would have once been the first to call is someone you can no longer talk to.

  15. Sarah Piazza

    Just… what Veronica wrote.

  16. Marta

    I don’t even remember the last time I saw a pay phone. I agree with Marinka she knows how to reach you. And daydreaming about New Zealand is never a bad idea.

  17. Alexandra

    Sometimes life is good to us, and makes it easy for things to end.

    Would be so much harder if you still liked each other.

  18. Matt

    Awesome pic. I haven’t used a public phone in years!

  19. AnnieH

    I married my high school honey while we were both in college and we both worked and went to school and lived in a city with no family and no friends there. Oh, and I was 20, an immature 20. Oddly we got a divorce after three years and we do not speak or write or text or Facebook. I would have liked to have some conversation after all these 30-some years, but he’s not up for any of that. When my brother died, my husband and kids were lovely, but they’d never met my brother. Rick, however, did since we essentially were together for so many of the living-at-home-years, and I found myself wishing we were still friends so I could talk to him. It is not to be, though and I have to accept that with the same grace I accept that I’m not going to be a well respected journalist or flawless ballet dancer or Doris Day a la Please Don’t Eat the Daisies. It’s a regret, but I don’t know how I could have made it any different, and I don’t know…I think to feel regret puts you in good company with a lot of the world and gives you a sense of compassion and an appreciation for the blues. It’s a battle scar.

  20. AnnieH

    PS. along the lines of great minds who think alike–the Sharon Olds poem I had picked and posted on Monday night for Tuesday may resonate with you.

  21. Amy

    And thus the tale of life continues to move forward. Without Sophia.
    Time to claim yourself Neil and just move on. Without her.
    And you will be just fine. Again without Sophia.
    Peace from Tyndall, South Dakota.

  22. Marie Nicole

    Wait – are you telling me phone booths still exist? They’re not a myth propagated solely by movies and TV shows? Really?

    Letting go has got to be one of the hardest things. To walk away and never look back.

    p.s. there was a morale to this little piece Neil, sorry to disagree with you!

  23. Father Muskrat

    I can identify with this, since I usually like closure. But, your life is better now, right?

  24. Genie

    I divorced my ex-husband in 2002 and it still bothers me he won’t be my Facebook friend. He is remarried with a child. I’m remarried with a child. I love my life. But I just don’t like to think of previous chapters as completely off limits.

    I think it’s because I’m a pack rat and I like to collect people just like old greeting cards.

  25. Amy

    It is so true Neil…sometimes things do ‘just end’, love isn’t always tidy. I really loved this post.

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