Tara pressed the phone against her ear listening as the first and second rings reverberated against her eardrum. Her heart fluttered and her legs began to tremble with anxiety as the third ring echoed in her ear. Tara fought to keep her breath from sounding like static against the mouthpiece and her finger twitched across the cancel button on the cordless.
Tara still didn't know what had kept her from getting in touch with Willow the last three days. She couldn't explain it, and that frustrated her the most. Her lack of an explanation for her own actions might have been frustrating, but what scared her the most was that Willow would hate her. Tara had missed Will immensely these last few days, but something had kept her from picking up the phone, until now.
On the fourth ring Willow answered and Tara's heart skipped a beat. Instead of another piercing jingle there was the breathless voice of Willow on the other end. Tara's breathing slowed as the silence between them grew exponentially. Tara desperately wanted to say something...anything, but as the seconds ticked by, she found it increasingly impossible to do so. Tara listened to another spoken "hello" into her ear. She opened her mouth to make a sound...to at least let Willow know who it was on the other end, but no sound would come. Tara closed her mouth, and her finger twitched against the "cancel" button again. The silence was unbearable. What could she possibly say to Willow that would make the redhead understand? Tara didn't even know what was going on herself, how could she expect Willow to? Tara closed her eyes and hung up the phone. She felt like such a coward. Tara stared at the red cordless phone intently wondering if it was going to magically become animate, jump off the counter and call her a coward right to her face. The phone didn't move however, and Tara felt silly. She brushed her fingertip lightly across the curved back of the communication device. The plastic still felt warm to the touch from when she'd gripped it so tightly in her palm. Tara thought about calling the redhead back, but decided it was too soon. If she called back now Willow would know for sure that it was she who had hung up on her and Tara didn't want to feel embarrassed.
The phone ringing startled Tara out of her thoughts and she felt her heart start to pick up speed again. She knows Tara thought to herself. She didn't think Willow had caller ID but for some reason, she just knew that Willow had known it was Tara. Tara stood, pacing the room as the ringing continued to sound. And then there was silence. After the momentary feeling of relief, Tara was, once again, cursing herself for being a coward.
Willow set the phone back in its cradle. Her momentary hope that it had been Tara on the phone was dashed and she felt disappointed. Willow wondered what she should do. She thought about going to Tara's apartment and waiting until the blonde showed up, but something about that plan seemed stalkerish and strange, so she dismissed it. Should she try to call again? Maybe Tara had been unable to get to the phone in time, and she missed the call by a split second. Willow stood immobile staring down at the white plastic phone trying to decide whether or not to dial Tara's number again. Part of her wanted to push the redial button over and over again until Tara picked up, but the other part of her wanted to hold onto any semblance of rationality that remained inside her.
Over the past three days Willow had made up every excuse in the book as to why Tara hadn't returned any of her calls. At one point, Willow had been ready to run over to Tara's house thinking that the blonde had become trapped under something heavy and couldn't reach the phone. But she had been successful at suppressing that urge with the rationale that she hadn't seen anything with the potential to tip during any of the visits she had made to Tara's apartment. Willow sighed and forced herself to move away from the phone. She decided that she would give Tara a few more days before freaking out entirely.
Willow picked her laptop up off the table and made her way back to where Buffy sat on the back deck. She grabbed a couple of cokes on the way. Maybe if she got involved in some work she had to do on the computer, she could stop thinking about Tara for the next couple hours.