Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Winter (the season) (08/13/09)
TITLE: A Whistling of Wind
By william price
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Sharon’s lips were taut; face pale. The 22-year old was confused and close to freaked out.
It has to be a mistake.
The address where the emergency call came from was 888 Cross Circle. Sharon didn’t hear a voice, only the whistling of wind, and then, whoever, whatever, hung up; followed by dead silence.
No, God. Not again. There’s no way.
The young dispatcher struggled to keep her composure; it was part of her training to remain calm no matter what the call.
But, 888 Cross Circle?
“Shelly!” Sharon yelled, not worrying about the consequences of her outburst.
Startled, other 9-1-1 operators glanced up from their booths. Shelly, a heavy set woman who piled her hair as high as her makeup stormed over to Sharon’s post from the other side of the communications center.
“What is it, girl?” The shift supervisor seemed agitated.
“I just had a 9-1-1 hang up.” Sharon couldn’t keep her gaze off of the address. Her heart was pounding hard.
Shelly placed both her meaty hands on her rounded hips and growled, “You know procedure; get a deputy out there now.”
“But, it’s …”
“I don’t’ care if it’s my house, get a unit rolling.”
Sharon’s instinct kicked in and soon had a deputy dispatched to 888 Cross Circle. She knew the deputy would call back. While waiting, Sharon wondered how she was even thinking, much less talking; it was either adrenaline or fear. The call was starting to become all too real … again.
“Unit 1-3-5 to 9-1-1.”
“Go ahead unit 1-3-5.” Sharon knew what was coming.
“Did you give me the right address? 888 Cross Circle is an empty lot under a foot of this new snow.”
“That’s the address the call came from, 1-3-5.”
“Ah, 9-1-1, I’m looking and there are not even phone lines running to this place. My sergeant’s on scene and says this is where the Pentecostal Church burned down a few years back. He says the lot’s been cleared.”
Sharon knew that. Ten children almost died in the church basement that morning; trapped from a fire spreading from the kitchen upstairs. The only fatality was the Sunday school teacher. She died after getting the last child out; too much smoke in her lungs. It was Sharon’s sister. Sharon took the 9-1-1 call that morning.
Painful emotions, memories and unrestrained guilt finally overwhelmed the young dispatcher; composure fled her consciousness and she slumped to the carpet. The supervisor took over the call. Another operator came to minister to Sharon who sat up; her face in her hands. She was trying to stay focused. Sharon heard the dispatcher with her praying. She asked her to stop.
“I don’t need that. God won’t listen concerning me.”
Sharon had been scheduled to teach the Sunday school class that morning of the fire, but wanted to work an extra shift to make some last minute Christmas money. She asked her younger sister to handle the class for her.
Sitting on the floor, the irony of the moment caused Sharon to shake her head. The church, that wasn’t there anymore, was calling her, in the dead of winter, on Christmas Eve.
Just leave me alone!
Sharon faded in and out of what was going on around here. Her supervisor had called an E-M-T unit to come evaluate Sharon’s condition. At one point the supervisor also talked deputies into seeing if there was still access to the basement of the church. She thought maybe some transients taking shelter from the blizzard were trapped underneath the new snow.
“1-3-5 to 9-1-1.”
“Go ahead, 1-3-5,” Shelly responded.
“We did get into the basement. No sign of anyone. We only found a folder under the stairwell. Everything else seems cleaned up still.”
Sharon perked her head. “What color is the folder?”
“What,” the supervisor asked?
“What color is the folder?”
“Ah, 1-3-5, humor me here, what color is the folder?”
“Ask them to open it and say what’s in it.”
“1-3-5, what’s in the folder?”
“9-1-1, it says it’s a lesson plan on restoration. The first line reads, ‘God loves you, no matter what.”
Sharon began to cry. “That was my message for the kids.”
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