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The bedside clock displayed his last numbers for the day. He read 9:11pm.

His wife was on her end-of-summer girlfriend trip.

Why couldn’t he remember the flight number? Would it matter?

Why would a flight number ever matter?

No, he thought, numbers matter.

In an emergency or for any and every other reason, numbers are necessary.

He thought of Phoenix, the band, and their song “1901.”

He closed his eyes before the clock face could change its mind.


She used to ask him about numbers, and he became instantly excited since he’d regularly regarded them and considered them – all the numbers – as often as possible. Picturing figures, digits, quantities without sums or difference. Without geometric shapes or graphs. Sometimes, often, there’d be no mathematical association to anything except a symbol’s form. He’d conjure how many of something without the figure or tally marks, if that was possible.

How they fell in love. Over numbers. Over a number of days.

Numbers – why they fell in love, perhaps.

She asked him his thoughts on the year January 19, 110. Like a cat taco but tastier. Just wait until March of 2023, and the palindromes that’d come with the 20’s.


Time, however, was running.

On. Out. He wasn’t sure.

Adding on to what they once had.

And she said he’d always come back wanting more of her. Everyday.

This was her response to him letting go, reinforcing how much he expected from her.

I’ll do less for you and crave less from you, he said.

She said that would never be true.

As a result, due to her response, he vowed to stop chasing after what he should already have – her.

She protested that he’d continue searching for her. Needing her. For infinity.


Now was the time, the test, for he wasn’t going to see her for the entire week.

Eight days, to be exact. The seven nights being the precise reason for the disconcertment.

However, the solution to the problem – he smirked, had to, to keep the spirits up – wasn’t the length she’d be away from him. The obvious problem – he frowned, couldn’t help it, there was no easy way to solve it – was that they’d fallen. And the solution was within the solving – attempting a new formula.

The two of them have been changing. Drifting apart.

And now, when they were physically separated, the problem became apparent, unquestionable, and obvious: they’d fallen. The fall was not occurring in real time but complete.

Fallen. Like the song, “1901.” The lyrics of the chorus. The word repeated four times. Four more to make eight. Later, sixteen. A total of twenty-four.

Does that matter?

He remembers her correcting him. They do not say “fallen” in “1901.” They say, sing, something else.

Before she left, he asked her about a new song about a couple remembering their past and how they kissed and wanted to be together all the time and how it can still be that way, in the present, in the future, that they could do it again. And he asked her if that’s why she liked the new song. Because of the lyrics? And she said she didn’t know and that it was just a good song.

But she loved lyrics. Lyrics ran her taste.


And so he wondered if she would fall further on this trip. Into another’s arms?

Would he seek passion while she was gone?

He had time to do so. They both did.

Time broken. Time apart. Longer, technically. Adding their individual times apart increased their combined time.

And by the next morning, he’d finally made a table comparing their shared weekend time vs. their weekday time (work hours vs. shared evening hours) vs. this week’s separate hours. This week’s number was significantly higher. Their separate experiences increased their overall experience.

True, last night, he’d fallen asleep earlier than usual, but she was out with her friends and staying up later than her evenings with him at home on the couch.


He didn’t hear from her for the duration of her vacation.

Had they entirely fallen apart? Because maybe “fallen” was an active verb. Infinitely happening.

What does “fallen apart” mean? The two entities fall. They must land together at some point.

Unless one is higher.

Unless one is completed, or destroyed, at a higher level than the other …


The phone rings. Too early to be a telemarketer/sales call.

He looks at the clock. He’d never forget the digital numbers of this morning.

His life would never be the same.

He knows he has to answer: “Hello?”

“I want to say I love you.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“I don’t want us to fall apart. Let’s start over.”

“Ground zero.”

“Ground zero.”

The clock read 9:11am. They’d only been apart for twelve hours.

The math was correct.

They’ll be just fine.

Dan Jones

Author Dan Jones

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