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WHEN THE PHONE RINGS

by Kathleen McGurl

 

 

 

 

When the phone rings at three am what will be your first thoughts? Who will you think it is?

Your mum, telling you your dadís been taken bad, heís off to hospital in an ambulance and he says his chest hurts?

Your brother, telling you his wifeís baby is born, itís a girl and it was a big one, at nine pounds plus?

Your neighbour, telling you they looked out of the window on the way to the toilet and noticed your car was gone from the driveway. Should they call the police?

Your workplace, telling you thereís a problem, a break-in, or a failed run of computer programs, and what should they do about it?

A wrong number?

Will you answer it immediately, or let it ring? Will you wake instantly, or lie sleepily trying to figure out what is this noise? Will you know straight away itís the phone, or will you think itís the alarm clock, the smoke detector, a car alarm? Will you scramble around in your head trying to decipher what is this insistent ringing?

Is there a phone by your bed or must you get up, slide feet into slippers and negotiate the stairs? Do you leave hallway lights on, or is your landing dark, the top of the stairs treacherous? Might you fall, in your haste to beat the answerphone?

When you pick up the phone what will you say? Will you recite your phone number, or just say hello, or act like a butler stating this is the Henderson residence? Will you sound sleepy or will you cough twice before answering, to clear your throat?

Perhaps you wonít be asleep when the phone rings. Maybe youíre up watching late night TV. Or partying, drinking Chablis with friends, playing Cranium and laughing wildly.

Perhaps you are sitting alone, brooding, wondering who is sending the emails. Do they worry you, those emails? Do they scare you? Have you begun to wonder if the sender will track you down, find out your phone number, or where you live?

Do you sleep at all any more? Or do you toss and turn, starting at every sudden noise, rising often, looking out of the window, up and down the street Ė who is there? Is anyone there? Or are the noises in your head?

Do you need pills to help you sleep now? Pills to calm you down, relax you, take your mind off your paranoia?

Will you be awake, when the phone rings?

Will you be alone, when the phone rings?

Will you be alone, when I ring?

Will you talk to me?

Will you listen?

Will I frighten you?

I can see you. Youíre not asleep. You are alone.

I dial your number.

© Kathleen McGurl, 2005
All Rights Reserved

 

 

BIO: "I live in Reading, England and work as a computer programmer. I write short stories and novels in my spare time."

 

 

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