Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)
TITLE: Unexpected Voice
By Rachel Burkum
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“Every day.” The nurse shook her head. “She’ll barely leave for meal time.”
Dr. Burghardt frowned and tilted his head so he could see past the door that was almost closed. “Has the therapist seen her? Have you tried medications?”
“She’s been here for five years.” Jenny rolled her eyes. “We’ve had everyone in to see her. We’ve tried to get her to take meds to clear her mind. But she swears that Jesus told her she’d be getting a call.”
Dr. Burghardt had a hard time not laughing. “Five years, huh?”
“Yep. The day after she came, she put up a fit when Mrs. Thems tried to take her out of the room. She didn’t want to leave that phone for a minute, let alone half an hour.”
“Does she have any family?”
“None to speak of.”
Dr. Burghardt hesitated to ask. “Has she ever received a call?”
“Nope. She insists she will, though. We’ve stopped trying to convince her otherwise.”
“Well…in her condition she doesn’t have much time left. Might as well just let her be happy.”
Sarah sat in her favorite chair by the window, her eyes closed, but her ears open. A small smile tightened the wrinkles that accented her face. Her gnarled fingers pulled her blanket up a little higher on her lap. The doctors didn’t believe…they said she was crazy…but she knew better.
Her white hair caressed her shoulders, glinting in the sunlight. She loved this spot. It was where she spent most of her time, praying, reading her Bible and waiting. The telephone on the nightstand was silent. But she knew that it would ring. She knew.
Brenda grabbed the payphone and hurriedly inserted her coins. She was angry. She was hurt. And she was calling to say goodbye. This was it. It was over.
The little booth was hot and humid as the rain poured down outside. She hated this weather. She hated everything about this place. Swiping at her tear-filled eyes, Brenda dialed quickly. She waited impatiently until the other end was picked up. “Dave?”
“Oh, I’m so glad you finally called.”
Brenda was taken aback. What on earth was an elderly woman doing at her house, with her husband, no less. “Who is this?”
“Sweetie, that’s not important. The message I’m supposed to give you is important though.”
Why Brenda didn’t hang up, she didn’t know. “What are you talking about? I’m trying to reach Dave. What number did I dial?”
“I was told you would call. And I am supposed to tell you…”
“Look, just answer my question!”
“I’m supposed to tell you that Jesus loves you.”
Brenda stopped short. “What?”
“Jesus loves you and He’s not giving up on you.”
The sweet voice caused Brenda to tear up again. “He could never love me. Not and allow all this to happen. Nothing has ever gone right in my life. If He loved me, He would have changed all that.” A sob stuck in her throat.
“Now, now, it’ll all be okay. Did you ever ask Him to help?”
“Well…” Brenda sniffs. “Not exactly.”
“Do you want to ask Him for help?”
Brenda’s lower lip quivered and she looked out at the rain, putting her hand to the cool glass. Her wedding ring sparkled in the dim streetlight. “Y…yes. But…but I don’t know how.”
“Oh, now that’s the easy part…”
“It was peaceful. She was in her favorite spot – there in her chair.”
Dr. Burghardt nodded thoughtfully. “It was her time. Too bad no one ever called her.”
“But they did.” Jenny was surprised at it herself, but she couldn’t deny the facts. “I was walking by and I heard her phone ring. She picked it up, had a conversation, and when I came back to check on her, she had passed away. I…couldn’t help but notice that she actually had a smile on her face.”
Dr. Burghardt chuckled. “I guess the joke was on us then, eh?”
“I guess so.” Pausing for just a moment, Jenny finally headed back down the hall.
“Oh, by the way,” Dr. Burghardt changed the subject, “how is your sister doing?”
“Better I think.” Jenny nodded. “She almost left Dave and the kids, but she said someone helped her realize she didn’t have it all that bad…”
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