She was sixteen when he called her the first time.

At first she thought it was different people calling her, but then she decided it was one man with many voices.

He pretended to be different friends of her father’s, people she’d talked to before, and then her father died, and for a while he pretended to be a friend of her mothers.

It was a game she played with herself when she answered the phone.

Him? or Not?

If she called him out he would deny it, of course, and hang up. But so would her mother’s friends. So she kept the tally in her head. Him? or Not? She talked to him as though he were who he said he was, and waited.

Sometimes he’d hang up anyway, and she’d wonder.

The calls were never obscene, or anyway not for years and years. He was simply very demanding. When it was him, after he’d tired of pretending to be someone else, he’d start asking her questions, where she’d been, who she was seeing, what she thought about this or that. He always knew when she was lying.

She kept lying to him. Even if he always knew she wasn’t going to just roll over.