Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CALL (01/14/16)
- TITLE: The Unexpected
By PamFord Davis
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My husband Ray and teenage son Dick tend the cows, while I work the farmhouse detail.
“Dick, Dick… you awake?”
“Ray said to get you up and out to the barn. Hurry and be sure to layer your clothes. WSEN says it’s 20 below!”
“Ma, is coffee ready?”
“Your cups on the counter with a doughnut. Better eat it on the way out. He’s got his hands full with the milking and Bertha ready to calf at any time.”
Hearing sounds of lumbered feet above; I sit down on a bench at our planked kitchen table, light up a Lucky Strike and inhale deeply. Now that I’m sure Dick is ambulatory, I relax with cigarette and mug of coffee. It’s my favorite time of the day, no traffic noise from the rural road or distracting phone calls. In momentary serenity, I suppress painful memories; life goes on.
I feel a sudden draft as Dick opens the door from upstairs and grasp the collar of my chenille robe to my throat. “Close that door or you’ll be the death of me; I’ll catch pneumonia!”
Before stepping into his crusted work boots, Dick kicks the door closed; stubs a toe, and groans.
“I hate this farm!”
“Just be glad you can get away after milking to go off to school!”
“I won’t be happy till’ I can get away fer’ good!”
Dick gulps down black coffee and crams a hunk of doughnut into his mouth. In Shakespearean fashion, he stages himself for exit but not before glaring at me from across the dimly lit room. I shiver; yet, not from frigid temperatures. It is Dick’s icy stare.
I can’t blame him. His step dad’s dream come true is his living nightmare.
The rest of my day passes uneventfully; I prepare three square meals, mop and wax floors and bake Ray’s favorite German chocolate cake. Exhausted, I wipe the last plate after supper; repeated rings of the wall phone interrupt mundane chores.
Wonder who that can be.
“No, just finished the supper dishes. Was about to join the others in the living room. Almost time for Perry Mason.”
“Isn’t this cold weather awful? I’m about to freeze, cannot put on enough clothes. Next year, think I’ll be like the birds, fly south for the winter!”
Chuckling, she pauses for my reaction.
Who in the world is this? I don’t recognize her voice.
“Fly south for the winter, get it? Bonnie, did you hear me?”
I muster lame laughter and say, “Uh, yes. I got it. Maybe I’ll go too, Miami, Florida.”
“Miami Beach? Sure, maybe we’ll see Jackie Gleason down there!”
I’m clueless. Who in the world is she?
Fortunately, the woman at the other end of the line is a chatterbox and reels off boring details of her day. Eyeing the clock, I see that is now time for Perry Mason. If I miss the beginning, I won’t know what it’s all about. Swallowing my pride, I do what I should have already done.
“Who is this?”
“Why Bonnie, it’s your mother!”
Feeling faint, I steady my frame against the kitchen wall before ending our conversation.
Voice barely above a whisper, I tell my caller, “I’m sorry but you have the wrong number, my mother is dead.”
*Creative non-fiction, names changed. The caller did reach a wrong number, strange that the first name was the same as the one she had meant to reach.
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