The silence lets Greg know that, for a few moments at least, it is over.
He rests his head in his hands and focuses all of his energy on not throwing up. The nausea is just beginning to subside when another call beeps through to his headset. Greg cannot bear the thought of regurgitating his script yet again and so hangs up on whoever it is that waits at the other end of the line - he hopes no-one is listening into his calls right now.
With bleary eyes he stares into the computer screen in front of him, his head is filled with half-remembered glimpses of what happened last night. His skull aches attempting to retrieve the missing pieces from his evening, the events which led to Ally leaving that message this morning. 'What the fuck did I do?' he thinks to himself, but before he can contemplate the issue further he has to battle the urge to vomit.
Greg had read Ally's text message as he lay in bed, still drunk, this morning. He groaned in shame before finding it strangely pleasing for the first thing he read in the day to be 'You are not a cunt x'. It was just a pity such a positive statement could only be delivered to him after drunkenly harassing the man he is in love with.
It had been the strong pulsating vibrations of his mobile - alerting him to the existence of the message - which had roused Greg from his semi-comatose state. There were still hours before he needed to get up for work but he only managed to doze off for a few more stolen minutes, the alcohol coursing around his body preventing him from gaining any more rest. And now, the lack of sleep is telling on Greg's face; the stubble, the dark rings around his eyes, the red, boozy flush of his cheeks, all outwardly portray that he is tired and feels like shit.
Another call buzzes through. Repeating the sales pitch his computer throws up at him, Greg realises several minutes into the conversation that he has not registered a single thing that he has said or done since it began. Panic hits him and he attempts to zone in on what functions his body has performed whilst his mind has been pondering the many possible forgotten actions preluding Ally’s message being sent.
After reading and re-reading the words Ally sent to him, Greg threw his mobile to the other side of his double bed filled with a sense of repulsion. He turned his back on it as if it were a lover he was spurning. Since then, he has not been in the mood to read the details of the calls he made, the catalogue of messages he sent and received whilst under the influence. His stomach is not strong enough to deal with the reality of what is contained within the memory chips encased in the plastic box of his phone. Greg does not want to access what secrets it holds and so it is switched off, in his pocket, burning into his skin - he is constantly aware of its presence.
On Greg's desk, the cup he filled from the water cooler as he entered the office is empty bar a few remaining drops of liquid. If he had the energy he would go and get some more, but he does not, so he sits staring at his screen and feeling like he is dying. Someone walks past his cubicle but his gaze does not avert from the computer. He cannot look anyone in the eye through fear of what he said or did to them last night being mentioned. The last thing Greg wants is to be reminded of his indiscretions.
With no warning things suddenly flash back to him, he can feel one of many glasses of wine in his hand, he is telling someone not to let him get too drunk - a comment which was clearly ignored, he angrily mutters "bastards" under his breath.
Memories of other nights where he has been the drunkest person at the party roll through his head. Always unintentionally, Greg finds himself unable to realise when his body is saturated with alcohol and continues to funnel booze into his mouth, he resolves there and then that he is giving up drink for good.
Last night followed the standard routine of a night out for Greg, he had intended to have a few drinks then stick to water to stay fresh for work today. Instead, as soon as he was standing at the bar all he wanted was to feel a bit out of himself, to distance his mind from his body which had spent the previous eight hours performing the most mundane and soulless of tasks.
From the brief comments thrown at him as he passed through the office on his way to his desk, Greg is certain of which pub they had stayed in for the evening. Jumping back a few hours he can see himself sitting there, gulping down his third glass of wine, marvelling that he was starting to feel slightly worse for wear and enjoying the sensation. Not that he tasted what he was drinking, swigging down the rich burgundy liquid it held no taste, he gasped between mouthfuls waiting for its effects to kick in.
Almost every shift at the call centre finishes with a few drinks, they are now an extension of Greg's working hours. He and his workmates troop off to the pub en masse just as they do on their lunch hour and their speedy fag breaks before they have to log back onto their computers.
Greg hates working here. During his shifts he can feel his brain slowly rotting as he performs actions which could just as easily be performed by an emotionally stunted robot. He is the lead singer in a band, he has an Honours degree, he works the odd shift in a cool, arty pub - this was only supposed to be a stop gap until better things arose. Better things have not appeared, and so Greg is reduced to drinking as much as is needed to help him cope with how let down he feels with life.
Although he does not even like the taste of wine, it is Greg's drink of choice as it gets him inebriated quickest. At first he cannot stand the taste and takes only very small, measured sips. Then, after a certain quantity - which he cannot quite pinpoint - he finds himself yearning for more of it and it begins to disappear quickly from his glass. The warm feeling that it gives him in his belly spreads to his head and his groin. He becomes emotional, yearning for love and affection - desperate to share his inner-most thoughts with those around him. He is overly sensitive, beginning to feel rejected by those that he loves, all he desires is human contact. This combination of sensations leads to one of two things, he either ends up crying that no-one cares about him, or he attempts to hump whoever is close-by. Knowing this, Greg makes the reasonably safe bet that he cried down the phone to Ally, telling him he loved him and asking why Ally didn't love him back. That or he invited him round to the flat for a fuck. It is difficult to determine which scenario is more humiliating.
The fog in Greg's head is cleared by someone leaning over the side of his cubicle and attempting to discuss last night. "...That was some good time we had, eh? You ever get eating your chips, you were holding them while you spoke on the phone outside the club for fucking ages..." Greg does not look up, from the voice he deduces it is Dave but he has no interest in contributing to a conversation, he begins to talk on an imaginary call and only stops the pretence once he is sure Dave has wandered back to his own desk.
Greg's headache becomes more intense, aggravated by the chatter of people around about him and Dave's words ringing in his ears. The smell of chips jumps to the forefront of his mind, he feels the gentle swaying of his body as he attempted to eat them. Speech slowly filters through his brain, Greg hears himself speaking in a whiney voice as he tells Ally, "I am so sorry I'm calling you so late, I'm sorry I'm telling you all this but I really love you, I really do. I am such a cunt I shouldn't have said anything, I'm sorry. I'm such a cunt." Greg squirms from utter, desperate embarrassment in his seat, he slams his head down on the desk and shuts his eyes as tight as he can, hoping somehow this will enable the memories to disappear back into the depths of his brain.