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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)

TITLE: Where Are You, Son?
By Helen Dowd


The sound of the door slamming, as Robbie had stormed out, reverberated in Hal's head. He sat gripping the picture of him and Bea, holding a smiling, six-week-old Robbie in their arms. It had been the happiest day of their lives, the day they had waited for since their marriage, seventeen years before.

After thirteen years of marriage, not able to have children of their own, the couple agreed to adopt. Four years later, the adoption agency had found the perfect match. And he was. He had Hal's curly, dark hair and inventive qualities, and Bea's sparkling blue eyes, and easy-going personality. In all of Robbie's sixteen years, there had seldom been a cross word exchanged between him and his mom and dad.

So what had happened? What had the flare-up been about, that night three weeks ago?

Hal dropped the photo onto the desk. He gripped the neck of the antique phone that had graced their home since his grandmother had given it to him as a wedding present, lifting the horn-like earpiece and clicking the holder frantically. Oh, why didn't that one important phone call happen? Hal tried his best to recall that night. As he was wont to do when stressed, he scribbled his thoughts down in poetry form:

Where are you, son? Where have you gone? Wherever can you be?
I wake at night and call for you. Please answer, is my plea.
Your mother cries, and so do I. Our hearts are filled with grief.
To have you tell us where you are would bring us such relief.

I still can see the great big smile that spread across my face
when first they placed you in my arms. How you, our home did grace!
Each day you brought the sunshine in. The gloom you did displace.
I well recall your giggles, son, when after you I'd chase.

You were an angel sent from God, to Mother and to me.
You were selected just for us. You filled our hearts with glee.
Your laughter brought our home such joy. You always seemed carefree.
So why then, lad, did you take off? Why did you choose to flee?

Where are you, son? Where have you gone? At least, why don't you phone?
Your dad's not angry you took off. I know you yearned to roam.
I know you had to 'find yourself', be out there on your own.
But son, this is your father's plea: Oh, won't you contact home?

We want to know that you are safe. We love you, our dear son.
We've tried to reach you, but have failed. Please, won't you telephone?
We'd right the wrong if we knew how, if we knew what we've done.
We wonder…was it our fault you ran away from home?

He stopped. Three weeks! Where could Robbie be? He'd not even taken his wallet with him. But he did have money. He'd received several money gifts for his birthday that day…Oh! Maybe that was it! He'd softly suggested that he let his mother bank the money for him. Hal had seen the sudden flush of anger on Robbie's face. He wasn't a little boy any more.

Hal had been reticent to call the police, thinking daily that Robbie would return. It had been just a teen-age flare-up.

Hal was jolted back from his thoughts with the ringing of the telephone:

"Oh Daddy, please forgive me. I've done you a great wrong.
I'm sorry, Dad, I'm here in jail. They said that I could phone.
One call, is all they said I had. One call. Oh, Dad, please come.
They said they would release me, if you would take me home."

Relief exploding inside Hal's head, he smiled. Despite his predicament, Robbie's weak attempt at poetry proved that his keen sense of humour had won over his fear.

"Well, he's not really in trouble," the police officer-friend from church explained. "I saw the lad at a phone booth, trying to fish a quarter out of the slot." He leaned to whisper into Hal's ear. "Said he wanted to phone home. I knew you were worried, so I picked him up. Thought I'd give him a bit of a scare by placing him in a cell for an hour or two." He winked, opening the cell door.

"Mom! Dad!" Bobby flew into the arms of his parents. "Next time I leave home it'll be with your blessing—and I promise: I'll telephone," he added.

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This article has been read 794 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/25/08
This was a phone call definitely worth waiting for. I was so glad the son was found.
Mariane Holbrook 07/26/08
What a great story! It's a double-header with some good poetry tossed in for free! I held my breath, so afraid something might have happened to the son that is a father's worst nightmare. But it turned out well and so did your entry. Very well done indeed! Kudos!
Elizabeth Hexberg07/26/08
Very nice.I love the inclusion of some poetry in this.Also for anyone with teenagers this story is familiar!Nice policeman....
Well written and entertaining piece, thanks. Elizabeth.
Joy Faire Stewart07/28/08
Wonderful writing showing the dad's love and concern. I couldn't wait to read the next paragraph to see if something terrible had happened to the son. I also enjoyed the poems within the story, a special touch. Excellent entry!
Catrina Bradley 07/29/08
A wonderfully strong story. A few unclear pronoun references, but overall well written. I like the poetry "breaks" in the story, too.
Glynis Becker07/30/08
Very nicely done! What a phone call it was :)
Sara Harricharan 07/30/08
Heehee, I loved the touch of poetry in here and the ending. I'm glad that he wasn't really in serious trouble, but just wanted to call home. Nice job! ^_^
Chely Roach07/31/08
I too love the mixture of prose and poetry. Very nicely done!
Joshua Janoski07/31/08
The poetry in this is what really makes this piece shine. Very good! I appreciate you sharing this with all of us.
Lisa Johnson08/14/09
I was afraid of a bad ending , with tragedy being the meeage on te phone...so glad the boy called home...and I , too, loved the mix of prose and poetry.
Lisa Johnson08/14/09
My fingers stuttered...so glad tragedy was not the message on the phone...
Marilyn Schnepp 08/26/09
Grade "A" poetry for starters! The story itself was touching, but the poetry is what takes the cake on this one. From what I've read in your profile - it reads like it could be Non-Fiction. Nicely done! I found one tiny "oops" at the end. Robbie suddenly became Bobby. Honesty is the best policy...(*.*)
Helen Dowd08/26/09
Thanks Marilyn, for your kind comment. As for "Robbie" becoming "Bobby", I can see your point. But actually, I meant it to be "Bobby", trying to portray the picture of his change of heart and softening towards his dad. It's hard to explain too much in a challenge article, due to word restriction. But I do see your point. And thanks...Helen