Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Commitment (01/05/12)
TITLE: 2:40 A. M.
By Sandra Petersen
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The phone rings once, twice, and on the third ring she answers. A yawn muffles her “Hello?”
“Did ya mean it?” I slur into the receiver.
On the other end of the line, cloth rustles. I picture her sitting up, drawing the covers back, standing and pushing her bare feet into slippers.
“Sonja? Is that you?” Her voice doesn't sound sleepy anymore. The tone hints of alarm.
I try to laugh but my vocal cords refuse to cooperate. All my mouth can form is a grimace. A soft groan escapes before I can stifle it.
I force my mouth to form the words again, to repeat the question. “Did ya mean it?”
“Mean it? Mean what?” I can almost see her frowning face as she attempts to understand me.
Time's wastin', Kim. If you're like all the others . . .
“What's going on, Sonja? Have you done something to yourself?” Her voice is edged with apprehension.
Does she really want the answer?
I don't intend to be cruel but I have to know if her promise transcends everything, even lost sleep.
“Guess.” I chuckle at my attempt at cleverness but the laugh comes out as a gurgle.
“Yes, I promised I would be here for you whenever you needed to talk. I'm committed to that. I have to know. Have you done something to yourself? Answer me, Sonja.”
I cast my gaze on the motel bedside table. The ice in the glass collapses as it melts into the amber liquid at the bottom. The pill bottle lies on its side, its childproof cap on the carpeted floor.
“Tonight it hurt more'n it ever hurt, Kim. The memories . . . I can't live like this.” My eyes crinkle with tears. Grief rises up inside me, threatens to smother me. “I'm so alone 'n' no one cares.”
“You know that's not true. How many times have I told you I pray for you every day? Every day, Sonja.”
I want to believe her but I know from some altar calls prayer can be a second long and just as deep.
“Mebbe you get tired of sayin' 'em 'n' seein' nothin'.” The pill and alcohol cocktail I took a half hour earlier is working too quickly. My speech is getting worse by the minute and I feel so weary.
She sighs and when she speaks again her voice is calmer, steadier.
“Alright, Sonja. I need to know where you are in order to help you.”
“Will you help me . . . again?” A shuddering sob courses from my lungs and out of my mouth.
Did ya mean it?
“Yes, a thousand times, yes. Where are you?” She insists I tell her.
It would be much better for everyone if I slept. I'm a high maintenance friend most people can't afford to have. My mind overrules my splintered heart.
“Sunset Motel. Room 8.” Now I can lie back and wait for her.
“Sonja? Don't fall asleep. Get up on your feet and walk around the room until I get there. If I'm going to listen you have to be able to talk to me.”
“Mm-hmm . . . okay.” I let the phone fall from my fingers onto the bedspread. The pillow invites me to rest but Kim told me to walk. She's coming. She promised she would and she hasn't ever failed me.
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