She died while I was leaving my Wednesday mythology class. The building was new and the hallway bright. I got a personal pan pizza on my way back to my dorm room, and I ran into my friend and coworker S. in the lobby. We sat in the office to eat our lunches and I told S. how my mom wanted to see a picture of him with pink hair. He and I had used the same red dye, and while my hair was red, his was pink. That Sunday night he had shown up at my door to scream about his hair, but I was on the phone with my mom. I’d laughed. “Mom,” I said. “I’ll talk to you Wednesday night–S’s is having a hair melt down.”
Now S. ate his sandwich. “I can’t believe you laughed at me,” he said. I laughed again and finished lunch.
I thought about running upstairs to check my messages, but decided no one would’ve called. Maybe the football player would call. We’d gone a date that weekend, but I wasn’t much for football players.
I went to my next class. Probably by then my aunts were trying to get on airplanes to see my grandmother. I had some time and again thought of checking my messages, but the temperature had dropped and it was supposed to rain. I went on to meet my friends. We went to a visiting lecturer’s talk on neo-Nazis in America. By the time we walked out of the lecture hall, the storm was nearly in.
I could’ve checked my messages then, but I had to meet a friend for dinner. The cafeteria was serving their Thanksgiving meal, and I had three bowls of ice cream. I got to my room and saw the answering machine light flashing.
There were days when bad news took many months and several horses to get to you. Imagine Romeo and Juliet if they’d had cell phones. Imagine Moby Dick with GPS. Miss Havisham with a blog. Hannibal Lecter on twitter. The news about my mom would’ve been the same over a cell phone or delivered by a man on horseback. But it does change the story.