Hope calls

Friday Night

The phone rings. I hate it when it does that. I answer anyway.

“Walt?”

“Yes.”

“Hi. Umm…”

I blink. Wait.

“I just wanted to call. My name’s Hope.”

I’m sitting on my bed, facing the window. I check the clock on my nightstand, wonder where my ride is. We’re going to be late.

“Okay…”

“I’m not weird or anything, I just, my friend said you were, like, really nice, and good to talk to, so I just wanted to call and, I don’t know, I guess, talk.”

“What friend?”

“I’m sorry?”

“What friend told you this?”

“I don’t know, it’s no one, they told me not to say, they just said you were really nice and stuff.”

The white-on-black numbers on the clock tick up by one.

“And you’re like really cute, and all.”

“Do I know you?”

“No, I just — ”

“So, how –”

“Your yearbook.”

“My yearbook?”

“My friend showed me. She goes to your school.”

“Where do you go?”

” [name of school]”

“What grade you are you in?”

“I’ll be a freshman next year. You’re a sophomore, right?”

“Yeah, listen, um, I’m going to the game here in a minute and my ride is coming, so I can’t really talk.”

“That’s okay.”

“Okay.”

Silence. I poke my fingers between the blinds. No car. I withdraw my fingers, the blinds crinkle closed. Dust leaps, floats.

“Can we talk until they get here?”

“Here?”

“I mean there. I just think you’re nice. I mean I’m pretty sure you are.”

“But…you don’t know me.”

“I know, it’s just, my friend said, and I can tell by your voice and stuff.”

“Okay, this is, look. I don’t know what to say.”

“Say, “Hi Hope!'”

“You know what, I need to go, they’re gonna be here.”

“Will you call me back?”

“Call you back?”

“Like, after you get back?”

“It might be pretty late.”

“That’s okay. Will you call me back?”

Sigh. “Sure.”

“I’ll give you my number.”

“Okay.”

I slip my fingers back into the blinds. A car, not the one I’m looking for, whooshes by. A streetlight clicks on as it passes underneath in the dusk.

“Are you ready?”

“Sure.”

“[the phone number]”

“Okay.”

“You got it?”

I close my eyes, shake my head. “Yeah.”

“Okay.”

“Hope, I have to go. They’re here.” This is a lie.

“Okay.”

“Okay, so –”

“You’ll call me back.”

“Sure.”

No response. I should just hang up. 

“You will?”

Oh for Chrissakes. 

“Yeah.”  

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

“Bye.”

I set the phone in the cradle. I check the clock. We’re going to be late.

Sunday Night

In the space between songs, the thump thump of a hand on my door. “Walt?”

I pull off the headphones. “Yeah?”

“It’s for you.”

“Who is it?”

“Says her name is Hope.”

Again?

“Tell her I’m not here.”

“She sounds like she really wants to talk to you.” 

Tuesday Night

I’d read somewhere about automatic writing, how some people go into a trance, and their hand just starts writing, subconsciously. I’m at my desk, pen in hand, yellow legal pad below. The phone rings. I glare.

It rings five or six times, then stops.

I’m trying to relax my hand, my brain. To see what I have to say.

Through the closed door, a muffled voice: “It’s Hope again.”

Left hand to forehead, right hand flaps pen against notepad. To the door: “I don’t want to talk to her.”

From the door: “You need to talk to her.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Walt! Talk to the girl.”

I slam down my pen, push my chair back, reach for the phone.

“Hello?”

Heavy breathing. Sobs. Holy shit.

“Walt.”

It’s a statement.

“Yeah.”

Gasp, sob.

“You said you were going to call me.”

I don’t know what to say.

“Why didn’t you?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Why didn’t you call me?”

“Well. I got back late.”

“I said it didn’t matter.”

“Right.”

“I waited all night, and you never called me. I keep calling you and you never call me back.”

“Hope, I have to go.”

“Are you going to call me back?

“I have to go.”

Next day, my mom asks who Hope is, why she keeps calling. I tell her I don’t know. I never find out, never meet her, never learn who told her about me. It’s just some weird thing that happened that I don’t think about again until I write the next part.

***

This is Part 6 in a series of “flash-memoir” posts that stand alone, more or less, but also link together to tell a longer story. Part 1 is here, and if you’re in the mood, here are Parts 2, 3, 4, 5.

15 thoughts on “Hope calls

  1. You and that hand flapping with the pen on the pad, that’s good. Glad for the odd twist this took. A vanilla-chocolate soft serve of real and fantasy. Crunch, crunch, gulp.

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  3. Oh, man. Surely we all have stories like this from our youth, thoughtless thoughtlessness as it were. I know I do. Ways of treating people that you wouldn’t do as an adult because at the time you just don’t know how to handle a situation maturely, because you’re too tied up in your own stuff to think of anyone else’s. Well written, Walt and at once creepy and tragic. Sorry I missed it the first time

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