"I know it's been a long time, but I still love you."

He read it more than twice, the first name followed from. Before he penned "yes, it has and," in boldness, "are you still beautiful?"

"Moreso than ever. Call."

Seven digits reply, seven traces back.

For a night, he tried area codes: the ones he remembered from childhood, from school, from vacations; combinations whose encoded beeps pleased him. And grew accustomed to the messages that await lost lovers, the nostalgic, and those with slippery hands.

When men picked up the phone, he forged a sales pitch.

The others were estranged mothers, secret sisters; and to every one his silence was abrasive.

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