Diane Thomas-Plunk “The Call”


Dorcas was just getting ready for bed when her cell phone chirped. Pulling up her jeans to avoid tripping, she retrieved her phone, looked at caller ID and froze. She shot a hard look at her husband and held out the phone for Tony to see. Despite his frown, she answered.
“Where are you? I don’t even know how long I’ve been waiting and you’re still not here. You’re late. Why do you always keep me waiting like this? You never could keep up with the time.”
“Mother, where are you?”
“You know exactly where I am. I’m on the porch of the old folks’ home where you stuck me. Just stuck me away like I stick away your presents that I never like. You never had good taste.”
“Who is this really?”
“Good grief, child. Don’t you know your own mother’s voice? I’m ashamed of you. Now come get me for my visit.”
“There is no visit.”
“Listen at you! Always a bad daughter. Almost never came home for holidays during college, then ran off and got married without even telling me.”
“Mother, I always tried. I always tried to make you proud.”
“Well, you didn’t. You were a great disappointment to your father and me. Thank heaven I only had one child to break my heart.”
Dorcas looked helplessly at Tony and he took away the phone and smoothed her hair.
“She’ll call back, Tony. You know she will.”
“We need to go to sleep, baby. It’s too late for all this.”
The cell phone continued to ring throughout the night. At seven o’clock she answered.
“Well, sun’s up and you should be, too. What time are you coming? I’m still waitin’.”
“My eyes aren’t even open. I can’t deal with you yet.”
“Deal with me? Deal with me? Shame on you for talking like that to your loving mother.”
Tony knew the tears that would come and fetched her medication.
“I want your phone,” he said. “I’m going to put an end to this.”
“No! No, you can’t do that. You can’t shut her off.” Dorcas shoved the cell phone under her pillows.
“Okay, for now. I’ll leave it alone for now, but this has to stop.”
The sun was setting when Dorcas woke up and groggily checked her phone. Four more missed calls. Tony walked into the room munching on some snack. It must be past dinnertime.
“She called four more times while I slept. See?” Dorcas handed the phone to Tony. He looked at the calls missed list.
“I see.”
“You don’t understand. You had normal parents and don’t believe that this woman continues to torment me. She’s relentless.”
“She’s not, sweetheart.”
“That does it. That just does it. You have to stop patronizing me. I’m getting dressed and we’re going to see her. We’re going to the home right now.”
“Baby, that’s not a good idea.”
“I don’t care what you think. I need to face her.”
They parked in front of the porch and empty row of white rocking chairs where mother and her friends used to sit. Tony put his hand on Dorcas’ arm as she reached for the door handle.
“Baby, please don’t. No matter how many times we do this, she’ll never be there again. Try to remember. She died. We buried her. We grieved. Let it be over.”