Sometimes it’s fun to dig out your old writing. This was a piece that I wrote years ago for a competition, which I didn’t win obviously. It had to be 300 words of fiction. It’s very hard to tell a decent story in 300 words, but I enjoyed the challenge.
The Phone Call
Gwen’s distracted today, none of the usual banter.
“I made soup last night. I’ve put some in your freezer. You just have to warm it up.”
“Anyone home today?”
“Hmmm? What’s that?”
“What’s with you today?”
“Well, you can hardly expect me to listen to everything you say, you chit chat constantly! Honestly, I wish I wore a hearing aid just so I could turn it off!”
“I got another letter.”
There’s a sarcastic response on the tip of her tongue, but I watch her swallow it.
She looks down at the paper in her lap, “Yes, of course from him.”
I continue to dust, trying to appear uninterested.
There’s a long pause and I’m afraid she’s retreated again.
“No return address again, but there’s a number.”
I move some books on the shelf.
“He wants me to meet his family…dinner I think.”
I stop dusting and stare at John Irving.
“Are you going to call?”
“I don’t know.”
I turn to meet her eyes.
“What do you have to lose?”
“A son…all over again.”
“I don’t think he’d invite you into his life if he was going to run away.”
“I know him only through letters. He doesn’t know me at all. What if he’s disappointed?”
“What if you are?”
I start to shuffle papers about. I feel her eyes on me.
“How long have you been coming here to help?” she asks.
“Oh, I don’t know, a few years at least.”
“Why do you do it?”
“I enjoy the abuse.” I smile.
“Most men wouldn’t volunteer to do this,” she says.
“I guess I had a space to fill.”
She nods slowly.
My thoughts have nearly moved to other things when my cell phone rings.
Gwen hangs up.