4 comments

  1. Lisa

    I grew up in a time when people answered the phone without knowing who was calling. Today, when your phone rings you see a photo of the caller and you expect it to be that person. I was expecting to hear Ginger’s voice so I wasn’t really listening when Missy answered at first. I was also trying to maneuver my way through the traffic and over to the carpool lane.

    The morning was sunny but cool. Missy had asked me to drop her off at school for her 7:30 class and was actually on time, for once. I really didn’t mind carpooling with her while her car was in the shop. It was like old times, before she started driving. Besides, I don’t get to see her very much these days and I felt grateful for the chance to have some extra time with her.

    We were stopped at the metering lights waiting our turn to get onto the freeway. The traffic was heavy and moving slowly. Missy had been telling me about her English class assignment when my cell phone rang. I thought it was probably my husband calling to apologize for the silly argument we’d had earlier. Missy picked up the phone to answer it and we both saw that it was my friend Ginger. I wondered what she was calling about so early in the morning because Ginger was not really a “morning person” and I began to feel uneasy and a bit anxious. Missy hit “answer” and immediately hit the speaker button so I could hear and talk to Ginger. The conversation caught my attention when I heard Missy say “Hi Jessie”. I shifted in my seat a bit. My next thought was the obvious, “Why is Jessie calling me on Ginger’s phone.” When she asked me to call her back after I got to work the anxious and uneasy feelings tripled in size. I pushed Jessie to tell me what was going on. “Is everything OK with Ginger?” I asked directly. “There’s been an issue with Ginger” she said quietly. Then Missy chimed in to say that she was holding the phone while I drove so it wasn’t a problem for me to talk now. “I understand that” Jessie said calmly “But I’m going to need to talk to your mom for a few minutes and it would be better if she wasn’t driving.” My stomach turned over and I could now add nausea to the list of things I was feeling.

    I agreed to call Jessie back and to text Missy later to let her know what was happening. I pulled into the parking lot of the market where my husband works; it felt like a safe place. I hit redial and Jessie answered on the first ring. After I assured her that Missy wasn’t with me, she finally told me that Ginger had passed away. My eyes welled up and a flood of tears began to fall. No! That just can’t be right. I must have heard wrong. I couldn’t believe it but it was true and it broke my heart. I thought it was Ginger calling me like she had a million other times since we’d been friends and because I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without her but mostly it was because I always expected her to be there.

    1. mcullen Post author

      Dear Lisa, This is so well-written about a situation that is intense and filled with emotion. When I comment on writing, I treat all work as fiction. . . so that we can concentrate on the writing. You let the reader know the approximate age of the narrator with the first sentence. Then you bring us quickly to modern day technology. So, we know this story takes place in “real” time. Of course, at first, we don’t know who Missy and Ginger are, but then you divulge that information. Setting the scene while the narrator is driving and navigating commute traffic increases the tension. I love the detail about “probably my husband calling.” Gives the reader some insight into narrator’s life. More tension with “‘There’s been an issue with Ginger’ she said quietly.” And when we hear what happened, heart-breaking for the narrator and for all those involved. And of course, I wonder, what happened next? Thanks for posting.

      1. Lisa

        Marlene,
        Thank you so much for your comments and for posting this prompt. I appreciate both of them immensely!
        -Lisa

        1. mcullen Post author

          So glad it worked for you, Lisa.

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