A few days ago the text came. It was from a 202 number—D.C."Call Paul at 202XXXXXXX or your dad if you want to know what's going on," it read.When I read this I’m in the dark midday silence of my apartment downtown, lying on my bed, which is where I had been for about half a week. I was wearing dirty J brand jeans, a stained yellow tank top, and no makeup.Disgust shot through me like an electric charge—the first thing to arouse me in days.
"If U have something to tell me tell me YOURSELF," I texted. "Paul? Why would I call your boyfriend who I don't know? And you know I'm not calling DAD." This Fashion Week I turn 30.No answer.Two hours later the sun set outside behind my blackout curtains, and I actually turned a lamp on instead of resigning myself to the dark once again. My lampshades are always draped with pillowcases and towels, so even inside it never gets bright-bright.No Signal was bouncing around a blue screen on my television, like usual. I found my phone in my bed and texted again."I am sick of this if you have something to say to me just say it yourself, this is retarded," I tapped into the phone and pressed send.Finally a message back: "I haven't felt like talking." It actually made me laugh a little.For God's sake, I thought. This stupid bitch."?????!!" I typed. Send. Who gave her my new number?" ______ is missing in Idaho. He disappeared mountain biking two days ago."Well."But I thought he was living in South Korea!!!" I typed, and never sent it, though that was what I thought.My brain reeled to remember what a mountain bike was. Where Idaho was. What my little brother really looked like. When the last time I saw even him was.Two years ago he had moved to New York to go to graduate school at Columbia, and I'd taken Adderall after Adderall and visited him up in Harlem. It was his second day in New York.
"We're gonna do the uptown Goodwill circuit!" I had announced, because that's the sort of thing Amphetamine Logic likes to do. "It'll be fun." He'd looked sort of hopeful.Three hours later we were at a Salvation Army in East Harlem, and I was convincing him to buy a horrible sofa for his dorm room that he didn't need."It's the perfect size," I'd commanded, my arms full of collectible Newport cigarette tank tops and a Marlboro windbreaker. "Just buy it." I shoved the clothes on the counter. "Here, pay for these, too. Finder’s fee. What. Omigod, I don't have any money. Are you serious? It's like seven fucking dollars and I am your big sister."My sister called me a few days later: "How could you not have flipped the cushions on this thing, Caitlin?" she screeched. "They are covered in BLOODSTAINS.""So throw it away," I snapped. "I couldn't care less.""Are we going to be friends now that I live here?" my little brother had said to me in a taxi crossing 125th Street. His time in New York would be very lonely. "I don't know anyone.""Sure," I'd said, lying through my teeth. I was so high on that shopping trip I was practically foaming at the mouth. "I'll hang out with you any time. We'll fix your terrible haircut."I was plowing through a pack of Juicy Fruit. "Seriously, ____—" (crack) "—that is the most unsexy haircut on a young person I have ever, ever seen." Then I had blown him off for two years.
Now another message lit up my phone: "Dogs are looking for him." From my mother again.Rescue dogs or cadaver dogs?, I thought. I started to text it and then I erased it, and then I started thinking about how when my little brother was a toddler he would fall asleep in his highchair and I would cram food in his mouth until his cheeks were stuffed. Then he would wake up and start choking a little."You're going to kill him!" the nanny would scream. I remember being very young and laughing at this, and now he had disappeared.It was very shadowy and dead-quiet in the room where I'd been pretending to be a corpse for four days."Jesus," I said to nobody. Then I took two Vicodin and a Lunesta and put my head under my comforter and waited to fall asleep. When I woke up I took the same pills again.I watched a call come in from a Blocked ID: probably my dad. It came and went, and I didn't listen to the voicemail.I can't handle that, I decided. Then, How dare someone give him my new number!An hour later my grandmother called. I let her go to voicemail, too, and I didn't listen to her message either. I tried calling my sister, who is now a publicist in Gramercy. No answer.A day and a half passed. My email was filling up with stuff to blow off: Page Six magazine was supposed to shoot a "night out" with me to run in September.You can't handle that, Amphetamine Logic said. Or maybe that was me. Who knows anymore.
I wanted to be crying but what does that even mean.No Signal, said my television screen. No Signal No Signal No Signal No Signal.If there is any news about ______ someone will text me, I thought. And then put my head under a pillow and waited to black out again, imagining the night animals of Idaho going in on his bones.Also by Cat Marnell:Blood Suckers and Condé Nast-ysBlonde on (Very Famous) BlondeNothing Is Wrong If It Feels GoodThe Aftermath@Cat_Marnell