Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: DAYDREAM (12/08/16)
- TITLE: A Portal in Time
By M. C. Syben
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A window, like the one I sit by in this quiet room, sometimes, acts like a portal into time, transporting my mind. For instance, I watch an older gentleman working in the flower bed, as he dumps a wheelbarrow of compost. It stirs an itch from deep within—years ago, something about…dirt.
Oh, yes. I'm a vibrant twenty-one, working as a secretary. I must inform a client of his delivery. How do I relay a message over the phone while suffering with laryngitis?
Mind you, laryngitis manifests in different forms. To the blessing of those around the sufferer, it sometimes surfaces as complete silence—nothing, nada, not even a whisper. With other milder cases, the voice suffers a slight hoarseness, an occasional crack of exhaled sound, punctuated with a cough or two.
Coworkers are repulsed by my particular case.
“You sound like the herd of squealing pigs Jesus sent into the sea.”
“No, she sounds more like a choir of bull frogs croaking in all different pitches at the same time.”
My predicament makes for a jovial office crew.
“Very funny. It’s just laryngitis. I’m not sick.” I cough out inaudibly.
“Wonder how many times she'll need to repeat,” one worker whispers to the other.
I give him a sharp look. My ears are not clogged. “I heard that.”
“What?” The group replies.
I decide to show them. I dial the customer’s number.
His wife answers. “Hello.”
“Hello. Please tell Mr. Garrett his dirt delivery is scheduled for today.”
“Dirt delivery is scheduled for today.”
“I can’t understand.”
In an attempt to make my speech more comprehensible, I increase the volume. “I have laryngitis. Mr. Garrett wanted to know when his dirt would be delivered.”
“Oh, dear. You better speak to my husband.”
In the background, I hear Mrs. Garrett saying, “You take this phone call. I can’t understand a word, but I get a feeling it’s business…for you.”
“Dirt delivery is scheduled for today,” I say slowly.
“What?” Garrett asks.
I hear his wife giggle in the background.
“Please, repeat.” Garret says.
I take a deep breath. “Dirt delivery is scheduled for today.”
“Did you say a delivery?”
“Delivery of what?"
“Dirt. Load of dirt.” By now, his wife’s cackling seems to be disappearing into the next room. Mr. Garrett’s voice remains patient, probably tempered by his wife’s amusement.
Garrett says, “Can you spell it?”
‘Good grief,’ I think. “D. Like Dog.”
“Oh, I think I got that. D. Like dog.”
“I. Like IDIOT.”
“R like what?”
“No. I. I. Like... IODINE.”
There’s a clamor behind me. I can’t hear his reply. “What?”
“What?” Garrett hollers.
Is Garrett becoming aggravated? I don’t want to get in trouble.
“I. Like IODINE.” I’m less sure.
Another outburst from the staff who are all seated behind me, red-faced, tears streaming. Suddenly, Mr. Wesson, walks out of the adjacent office composed, yet, with a crooked smile.
He gently removes the phone from my hand and proceeds to speak. “Mr. Garrett, this is Tom Wesson from Wesson Sod and Landscaping… thank you, I’m fine. We called to inform you of your delivery this afternoon. Yes, our Betty has quite a case of laryngitis. Yes, she's a she. Ah, I’m glad you and your wife will remember us in the future," my boss says with a twinkle in his eye, staring at me.
Whatever, Mr. Garrett really said to Mr. Wesson, I’ll never know, but it makes him chuckle until he sees the staff who languish there waiting for more amusement.
“Okay, people, back to work. Betty, go home. Drink something hot with honey or stronger. Don’t come back until you can talk.”
“But, Mr. Wesson, it’s just laryngitis.”
“What? Ugh. Go home.” Mr. Wesson shuts his office door, shaking his head.
Another round of muffled laughter surrounds me and follows me out the door. This time, I change the outcome. Instead of being angry, I chortle at the silliness.
Nurse Bulldog interrupts my giggles, wheeling me toward the hallway. “Lunch time, Miss Frances. You must be enjoying that daydream.”
If the stroke hadn't taken away my ability to speak, I’d tell everyone to open their windows and re-arrange their perspectives. What hurt us during our foolish youth, may bring happy tears now.
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