By Leslie Lindsay
Well, I survived the apocolypse so I guess I owe you a “Fiction Friday” post. This is from my novel-in-progress.
Our protagonist, married mom of two Annie calls her ex-boyfriend’s mother. [Remember, this is a work of fiction. It is not intended to represent anyone living or dead. All names and instances are used ficticiously. It is an orginial work, please do not beg, borrow, or steal.] Thanks…and enjoy!
“The long electronic beep jolted me into action, “Hello…um…hi…Jillian. Mrs. Kesselhoff. This is Annie Munroe. Kelley! Annie Kelley. I dated your son, Steve several years ago.” My voice trailed off, a nervous giggle erupting. “More than several years ago, actually….” I sighed, chewed on the inside of my cheek. What was I doing? I was just about to hang up when I heard her voice.
“Annie. Yes, I remember you,” Her voice moist, soft and gentle despite the rattle in her throat.
I gripped the phone tighter, my palms growing sweaty. I pictured a mound of papers on her cluttered kitchen desk: Dillards catalogs, newspaper circulars, a mug of soup in her hands. She’d touch her temple, delicate, delicate fingers brushing her hair back as she lowered herself to her chair.
My throat closed in on itself. I reached for my glass of water, my knee bobbing. I cleared my voice, “Oh, you do?” It was a stupid thing to say, but I couldn’t think of anything else. It was, after all what I had asked; implied.
“Oh, Annie…how are you?” Her voice warm, slightly concerned like I was calling with bad news. Your son’s been in accident.
I swallowed a cobweb of phlegm making it difficult to say anything. “I…um…well, I don’t really know why I am calling,” my voice sputtering like a stalled engine. I reached for a notepad in my kitchen junk drawer. Doodling always provided a sense of comfort when nothing else could.
“Is there something I can help you with, Annie?”
Yes, you can get in contact with Steve for me.
My fingers trembled as I held a black Pilot pen in my hand, pressing the tip to monogrammed stationary, a giant curlicue M centered at the top of the paper – a gift from Joe on our first anniversary, symbolizing strength from the interlaced connection of the paper’s individual threads.
I leaned forward, pressing my chest on the counter slightly, glancing up at the wall clock again. Joe and the girls would be home from that giant bounce house any minute.
I shook my head slightly, “No, no I don’t need any help. It’s just I recently moved to the Chicago area, and I learned that Steve also lives here. I just got to reminiscing…you know, thinking about what a small world it is…” my voice trailed off.
I pictured Jillian Kesselhoff tilting her head, looking at the phone base sitting on the desk in her golden brown kitchen, circa 1970 wondering herself where the years went. A smile on the other end of the line, “You live in Chicago, too?”
I nodded, clenching the phone tighter. “Yeah, I do. Look, I’m sorry. I really shouldn’t be calling like this. It’s been years. I’m married now. I have two little girls,” I presented these facts as though I was offering to warm-up her coffee, “Two little girls? Cream or sugar?”
“No, no. Annie. It’s good to hear from you.” Her voice laced with curiosity, clogged with sleep.
I smiled. “Yeah…you, too Jillian.”
“How do you like Chicago?” Her honeyed voice thick with Georgia.
“It’s okay…different up here, though. Colder. Longer winters. I miss the green hills.”
A soft chuckle radiated on the other end of the phone, “I bet you do.”
I smiled. “How’re you? I think about you often.” I shrugged, even though she couldn’t see me in my Chicago kitchen.
I closed my eyes. 3540. 3929. More old phone number segments floated through the vortex of my mind. Psychedelic numerals, shapes. ILY. Memories. My body lost in a weightless vertigo.
When I opened them and looked at my pad of paper—the anniversary gift I received from Joe so many years ago—I saw the M scratched out.
It was replaced by a cursive K.
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Kelley invite you to the wedding of their daughter Annie Marie to Steven Francis Kesselhoff, son of Mrs. Jillian Kesselhoff and the late Paul Kesselhoff.
Happy Anniversary, baby.