Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)
By Ruth Banner
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“Ouch!” Ruth slammed into something again. She leaned down to rub her knee with one hand, while thrusting the other out in front of her. Patting the air, she found the sharp corner that had gouged her knee, then maneuvered around it as she limped along, trying to feel her way in the dark.
She reached for the door jamb—what should have been the door jamb--but was met with an inky black void. Losing her balance, she stumbled forward. Nothing was where it was supposed to be. Disoriented, she stopped and closed her eyes, willing the invisible room around her to somehow reveal its boundaries and contents.
The phone rang again. “Where is it?” She called out. Her voice sounded hollow. With both hands out in front of her now, she turned towards the insistent ringing. Finally finding a doorway, she entered a new room. The ringing echoed and bounced back and forth as if she was standing in the middle of a huge cavern. Arms outstretched, she turned one way, and then another—like a radar dish trying to “get a lock” on where the sound was coming from.
Riiing. Riiing. Riiing. A familiar feeling of panic began to rise from somewhere deep inside her. “Where is it? I can’t find it!” She cried.
Taking in a ragged breath, her eyes flew open. Above her a tiny red light blinked, dimly revealing a corner of her bedroom. Slightly disoriented, she struggled to sit up in bed as she fumbled with the sheets. “It was just a dream,” she realized as she reached for the telephone on her nightstand, knocking over a glass of water. The blue light of the clock glowed 4:30 am.
The panic of her dream stayed with her, as a series of events and emotions raced through her mind in a split second. September 11th. Shock. Anguish. Fear. Anger. Her twenty year old son dropping out of college and enlisting in military. His deployment to war. Frightening news broadcasts on TV. Ten long months without one word from him.
Riiing. Riiing. Riiing. Terrified, yet compelled to answer, she whispered, “Hello?” The line crackled, then nothing. She held her breath, waited, and then asked louder, “Hello?” Seconds seemed to take an eternity. She dreaded to hear what her heart had feared for so long.
“Mom? Mom, can you hear me? It’s me. The war is over, Mom. I’m coming home.”
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