Sam was sitting by his phone tapping his foot anxiously. He glanced at his watch before turning his attention back to the letters spread out on his desk. It was only a few minutes until Hannah was going to call him, and he was getting more and more excited and nervous as the clock ticked down. He only had ten minutes to talk to her so he had a list with the important stuff he wanted to talk to his partners about.
After graduating they had all ended up in different parts of the country for college, and while they all loved their schools they weren’t as fond of the distance. Sam had gone to the west coast, to San Francisco State University, Hannah was at Harvard University to the surprise of none of her partners. Mike was up north at Wyoming State University, trying to decide between business and education, and Amanda had gone further south to the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma studying English and working on publishing their story.
The distance was killer on them, and they could only talk for ten minutes a day with five minutes for each of them. But they had worked it down to a science. Hannah would start the phone train at 9 PM, calling Amanda and talking until 9:10 on the east coast and 8:10 Amanda’s time. An hour later Hannah would call Mike and they would talk for ten minutes, and ten minutes after they finish talking Mike would call Amanda. Finally, at 11 PM her time, she would call Sam, and then Amanda called Sam, and then finally Mike.
Sam ran his fingers over the letters, smiling at Amanda’s perfect handwriting explaining some of the details of her life that she couldn’t get to in the phone call. The letter train had started a little bit after they had all left and realized that only ten minutes a day was taking a toll on them and their relationship. Hannah had sent Sam a letter and it detailed her whole life since they separated, and at the bottom was just a note that said, “Write your own, and mail both of these to Mike.” That started the train, where they all sent each other the others and their own letters, taking out whoever’s next’s last letter out of the train. And so now, he had a whole collection of Mike’s letters, just like Amanda had a collection of Hannah’s, Hannah had his, and Mike had Amanda’s.
Sam was shocked out of his thoughts by the sound of the phone ringing, making him jump. He scrambled to pick up the phone and grab his notepad with his talking points on it.
“Hey, Hannah!” He said excitedly smiling at the wall.
“Hey, Sammy! Miss you, how was your day?”
“Miss you too,” Sam moved the phone to be held between his cheek and shoulder and glanced at his list. “My day was good, how was your test? In the government class?”
“Oh my god, it was fucking hell, Sam.”
“Oh you nailed it and you know it.”
“Maybe, how did your track meet go?”
“Good, I got second,” Sam grinned at the phone, pleased that she had remembered.
“That’s awesome Sam! I knew you could do it.”
“Yeah, apparently running from aliens really was good for something,” Sam smiled at the pictures of them from high school that he had pinned to the wall. There was one from right after they got back, and had first started hanging out together. There were pictures of Amanda’s graduation, and then from everyone else’s graduation.
“At least it was good for something. How’s dealing with the roommates?”
“Oh my god they’re the worst. One is always leaving his shit everywhere and it stresses me the fuck out and the other is always drinking and smoking in the dorm,” Sam wasn’t quite sober but he wasn’t as dependent on it anymore.
“I’ll come and kick his ass for you,” Hannah offered.
“Sure, and maybe while you’re here you could see me,” Same closed his eyes and tried to picture what Hannah looked like as they were talking. He could practically see her leaning back at her desk, lazily lifting one of her dumbbells.
“Nah, only there to kick ass and then vanish.”
“Of courses you are,” Sam heard the cooking timer on Hannah’s end go off, signaling that they have only a minute left. “Fuck, ten minutes goes by fast.”
“Yeah it really does,” Hannah sighed.
“I love you, Han,” Sam pressed his palm into his eyes and took a deep breath, willing himself not to cry.
“I love you too Sam, only a few more weeks until Thanksgiving Break. You’re going to see Mike, yeah?”
“Yeah, and you and Amanda are going to spend the weekend together right?”
“Yeah. Oh shit, we’re out of time. LoveYouBye,” Hannah said in one breath before hanging up, leaving Sam to listen to the dial tone. He took a deep breath and wiped angrily at a tear on his cheek, he had ten minutes to prepare for Amanda’s call so he needed some food. He stood up and stalked to the mini fridge to find something to make. He groaned when he realized his leftovers had been eaten by someone and all that was left in the fridge was a small yogurt. He pulled it out and grabbed a spoon before heading back to his desk to try and read some of his next assigned chapter for class.
He couldn’t quite focus on the reading and spent the next ten minutes glancing at his watch every ten seconds and then feeling like ten minutes was actually 2 hours. As his watch hit 8:05 he got frustrated and threw his textbook at his bed and slammed his head into the desk.
“Whoever set up the ten-minute rule was a fucking idiot,” He grumbled before picking up a pen and some paper and trying to start his letter. He managed to get five words he likes on the paper, with a lot of crossed off sections making the paper look like a mess. He threw down the pen and glanced at his watch, startling himself with the fact that it was now 8:09. He sat up quickly and started staring at the phone, waiting for it to ring. As soon as the clock flipped over to 8:10 the phone started to ring and he answered immediately.
“How are you, babe?”
“Good, busy,” He could hear the smile in her voice.
“That’s good, how was the archery tournament?” Sam glanced down at the letter, where she talked about how worried she was about it.
“Amazing! Apparently shooting at a stationary target is easier than flying aliens. I came first in the school, and I’m going to the next stage which is with the five schools in the area. It’s me, and second and third place at my school versus the top three at all the other schools.”
“That’s awesome ‘Manda! I’m so proud of you!”
“Thank you! How was your track meet?”
“It was good, came in second!” Sam smiled into the phone, already planning on what he could get her to celebrate her win.
“Sam! That’s awesome! I’m so proud of you, I knew you could do it!”
“Thank you, how’s your writing class going?”
“Alright, one of the teachers here is already helping me write out my first draft. I changed our names but they think I’ll have a publishable book by the time we graduate.”
“Amanda! That’s incredible! The story of our alien abduction, yeah?”
“Yeah, I changed our names but it’s the story of how we met and saved the world.”
“Saved the world?” Sam snorted, “sure, saved it from some thieving spider aliens.”
“Ok, I might have made it more dramatic but still, it’s our story.”
“I can’t wait to read it, babe,” Sam glanced at his watch, 8:18.
“You still going to Mike’s for Thanksgiving?”
“Yeah, and you’re at Hannah’s?”
“God I miss you, Amanda,” Sam’s voice cracked and he took a steadying breath.
“I miss you to Sam,” Amanda’s voice got quieter and he heard her sigh.
“I love you, and I can’t wait until Christmas so I can see you and Mike.”
“Me too, but about you and Hannah.”
“I gotta go, Sammy, call you again tomorrow, love you.”
“Love you too!” Sam said just before she hung up. He spent a moment listening to the dial tone before he hung up and stood up again. His roommates knew better than to come back to the room between 8 and 9, so he had the whole room to himself. He paced around for a minute before he flopped down on the ground and just laid there face down, dealing with how lonely he was here.
Since he wasn’t dealing drugs here he didn’t have people who wanted to talk to him. And because his experiences making friends was dealing drugs and being abducted by aliens he was completely out of his depth here. He pushed himself off the ground and pulled out his collection of Mike’s letters, deciding to read them until Mike called.
He flipped through and found the one from three weeks ago, where Mike talked about how he was working at the local elementary school and learning about how to work with kids. He mentioned how he thought the kids were a lot easier to get along with and talk to than adults were. Especially the little kids, cause they were just so excited to see him every week.
The next ten minutes flew by and Sam was startled by the sound of his phone. He scrambled up and ran over to the phone, almost falling into his deck in his rush to get to the phone.
“Hey man, how was your day?” Sam sank down into his chair and grinned at the wall as he heard Mike groan.
“Dude it was shit,” Sam heard Mike thunk his head down on a surface. “But tomorrow I’m working with the kids again so that’ll be better.”
“That’s good, the kids are fun? Do I need to come and fight a second grader? Cause I will fight a second grader,” Sam let his eyes close and pictured what Mike looking like at the moment.
“Yeah, the kids are the best. They think I’m funny.”
“I think you’re funny, does that mean I’m the best?”
“Nah, you’re competing with Hannah, Sammy I don’t know if you’ll ever be able to win that title.”
“Aww, babe you wound me,” Sam pressed his hand to his chest and tried to hold back the laughter.
“Oh shut up,” Mike laughed and Sam melted. “How was your day?”
“It was fine, I came in second at my track meet.”
“That’s awesome Sammy!”
“Thanks, Mike,” Sam took a deep breath. “How are your classes?”
“Good, there are some tutors here that are really helping me to understand what’s going on in my classes. Like Hannah, but they don’t try to reward me with kisses.”
Sam snorted, “That’s the best Mike, but c’mon you miss it right?”
“Hannah? Of course I do. And Amanda. And you. I miss you all so much.”
“I miss you too, this has been harder than I thought.”
“Being alone,” Sam started to explain but he noticed that it was 8:59. “Shit, Mike. We’re out of time, I’m sorry I love you bye!”
“Love you but wa-” Sam hung up before Mike could finish his sentence, knowing that neither of them could afford the cost of that phone call. He buried his face in his hands and took a deep breath, before reaching for the pad of paper and restarting the letter.
“‘Sup guys, I miss you. I miss you a lot more than I thought I would. But let me tell you about this class I’m taking…”