Calling Home

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Two Rivers


If we could...

Submitted: March 17, 2018

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Submitted: March 17, 2018

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My name is James Thomson I work as a technician in prototype lab for furniture.  It is one of those low-end jobs.  Most of the times the job entails taking manufactured pieces and putting them together per the instructions the engineers gave the tech writers to write up.  It is a low-end job, but it is easy and steady.  Six months ago my wife left me. We had no children which I am thankful.  Then my older sister died.  Because I was the only sibling living, I inherited all her photographs and papers.  One day, I opened this old book of poems she had written and in the middle of one of her poetry books was a small piece of yellow paper with a number written on it.  It had to be a phone number by the way it was written, but it had a prefix and a number like it was written in the earlier days of phones when I was a kid, “JA,” standing for Jackson, and then the number.  “Who writes telephone numbers like that anymore?” I thought.

So, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed the number enter changing the JA for a five and a two.  “Hello,” I heard a woman’s voice on the other end.

“Mom?” I heard myself say.

Then I heard her say.  “I don’t know who you think you are coming, but I think you have the wrong number!”  I also heard in the background a young boy ask, ‘Who’s that, Mom?’ before she hung up I heard her say, “Some old man who thinks I’m his mother.”

I dialed back immediately.  Could it be true that the past and the present run parallel just like they say in quantum physics?  And, that by some quirk I had hit on a rift in time?  I had to know.  My hands were shaking as I held my phone and redialed the number again.  This time a gruff man’s voice, “You better not call back here again, or I’m going to kick your ass!  Get it!”  Okay, that was definitely was not Mom. 

I checked my watch.  It was June 21st 10:34 am.  I remember that day.  It was a nothing day, no birthdays, no holidays, but my mom talked about that call for days to neighbors, family members coming in for a visit, anyone who would listen.  We all had a good laugh.  Then my mom said something to me, “If I didn’t know better, I would think it was your deceased father calling from the grave.  He always called me Mom.”

I remembered the day!  I was fifteen then.  Dad had died in November seven months before.  Mom and Dad had been divorced for ten years when he died.  But it wasn’t my dad calling my mom.  It was me!  Tears rolled down my cheeks as I stood emotionally empty in a lonely apartment going through my sister’s things. 

The day my mother received that call it had been a beautiful sunny day, but today matched my mood: gray, and drizzly.  I placed the piece of paper with the number on it on my dining room table and pulled the poetry book up and read the starting lines of the poem where the piece of paper had been held all those years.  “If I could call you today, I would…”  It began.  The poem went on how my sister had tried over the years to call our mom. 

I dried my eyes and considered, “What if time does run parallel, but sometimes time slips and the past and present touch.”

 

I’m an elderly man now and am in a nursing home, and Hospice has been called.  I have tried over the years on the exact time and date to call home to hear Mom’s voice just one more time.  With the new phones now, I have been tracked and beaten up when a man thought I was stalking his daughter.  I was once sent to the hospital for nearly a week after a fellow thought I was having an affair with his wife, and I nearly lost my job over that episode. 

I ask for a phone and the Hospice nurse bends to my demand.  After all, it’s a dying man’s request.  I dial the phone number one more time.  I hear, “Hello,” and the young boy’s voice in the background. 

“Mom?” is all I say.


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