Cold calling

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a short story about a woman and her discovery

Submitted: May 23, 2012

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Submitted: May 23, 2012




Cold calling by Martine Loveless

The phone rang bringing her back.  She had been lost in thought her hands plunged in soapy water, her eyes fixed on the rivers of rain running down the window in front of her, squeezed out by rolling dark clouds.

Her eyes might have been focused on the gun metal grey sky but her mind was running.  Lost in thought her body automatically went through the motions of washing and rinsing but her thoughts were elsewhere dancing through the possibilities of a different life, the incessant drone continued.  ‘The phone, the phone!’ she said

She grappled with the rubber gloves snapping them off just as it clicked to answer phone. Instead of answering she stood there hovering as she always did when the answer phone clicked in.  She was not screening her calls but simply didn’t want to interrupt the caller ridiculous as it was. The voice was unfamiliar, a woman, it took a few seconds for her to take in what the woman was saying she seemed tense her tone clipped.

‘This is a message for Helen Rutcliffe.’ the surname was spat out syllable by syllable ‘I found your number through enquiries.’ Helen moved closer hand over the receiver ‘I know your husband’ Helen’s hand drew back sharply

‘We met at work two years ago we were friends working in the same department, it hasn’t been like that for a long time now, friends, I mean well we are still friends.....what I’m trying to say is that we are together, or we were together for eighteen months.  He has been telling me all this time that he is going to leave you, and now I know he never will.  I thought you should know.’

The line went dead and the machine clicked off, Helen stood stock-still she became aware of small sensations.  The feel of the carpet beneath her feet, the smooth varnished wood of the chair she was gripping with her left hand her right hand still out stretched. It felt as though her whole being drawn into a pin point then imploded she caught the reflection of her anguished face reflected in the mirror hanging opposite. Her features pained her mouth gaped as if twisted into a silent scream, hands gripped the sides of her head.

Her knees bent kneeling on the floor her skirt stretched tightly over her thighs, with her head down and her hands over her face she could have been mistaken for praying. She rose up feeling sick she sat on an armchair nearby.  ‘Thirty years’ she said to herself her voice cracking

Within a second, a word spoken from a bitter woman and it was gone. Though what was it that was gone their life together? She looked around at the mismatched furniture they had collected different colours and styles each depicting a different era, the ancient side board she inherited from her mother much to her sister’s annoyance, the mock mahogany finish of her dresser much sort after in the eighties now looking so sad and passé.

Or was it the trust that was gone? Such an intangible aspect of any relationship slowly gained easily lost, precious, brittle trust, like shattered glass impossible to mend and to hide the cracks.  Where would they go from here?  She knew she could not disguise her griefpretending she hadn’t heard or perhaps she could, she surprised herself sometimes at the secrets she could conceal, the sadness she had plastered over with a smile so many times.

She had suffered when they were little, her children, the lows were low and the highs sore compensation. The clouds had formed after the children were small she woke in the morning the tasks lay ahead as hurdles for her to limp over. The tiredness seeped into her bones. She felt failure her unwanted friend sitting on her shoulder whispering in her ear it took a long time for her to shake him off.

She had suspected her husband then, when he was confronted he had vehemently protested his innocence only adding to her guilt. She had wanted to believe him even though her instincts told her differently.

Her eyes moved over the fireplace to the modern photo frames constructed from glass and wires twisted abstractly, they were a present from her daughter. She had even filled them with pictures

turning in the lock that familiar sound. He found her with her fingers pressed over her eyes in a vain attempt to stop the flow of images behind them.

‘Helen?’ he dropped to his knees grabbing her hands and drawing them from her eyes

Helen?’ He said in a panicked tone her eyes averted afraid he would see the pain, the anger.

 ‘Helen what is it? Did the hospital ring again?’

‘Helen please what is it?’ His tone softened her she looked away how could she ever look at him again and see him the same?

She took a deep breath and looked him square in the face, so familiar yet now tainted.  In that face laid the map of her life she had looked at it and seen it age a day along with her own, through good and bad. As the events of their life unfolded and the dreams left undone. In his eyes she saw his concern but behind that concern she now saw guilt, was it a love for her which motivated him or remorse. The lines around his eyes looked deepened, dark circles shadowed his brown eyes.  For the first time she thought of his pain, the obvious guilt and panic which now seemed so plain and easy to see, which had eluded her before she pitied him. She sighed and shook her head praying for strength.

‘It’s nothing just being silly.’ she worked hard on her smile

‘Have you taken your meds? You know what the doctor said’ He patted her hand.

Since she had been diagnosed with cancer he had been so attentive, so loving and she had revelled in it.  Suddenly after all this time she felt his love, his touch and it washed over her, she felt safe again.  He listened to what she had to say when he looked her in the eye she saw herself again, how could she give that up?

And that is why when she had visited the doctor last month and received the all clear she had not told him.  She had meant to tell him she eagerly rushed home, though when she saw him from the doorway angrily texting on his phone then throwing it she had paused.  She saw him pick up her picture from the fireplace and tenderly touch her face.

When he heard her he had spun around strode over and taken her in his arms, there nestled in his chest she had thought ‘I’ll tell him later’ and as he kissed her hair she had thought ‘yes I’ll tell him later’.





© Copyright 2018 Martine R Loveless. All rights reserved.

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