Posts Tagged phone
Ala received a call while Jase drove them to the hospital. She noticed he was cutting through neighborhoods by using alleys and figured he did not want to face any stop and go traffic. She answered in a whisper.
“There you are,” Gene said with a nervous flick at the end of “are”.
“I called you and didn’t hear back.”
“I know. I meant to call.” She could see the light bounce off the of the corner of Jase’s eye. He was watching her talk and did not want her to know it.
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine.” She couldn’t stand talking on the phone using half of her voice. It felt like her throat was being squeezed shut. She didn’t like lying to Gene. Even though she hadn’t yet, she could tell it was coming. Jase sped up just as the light turned from a rusted amber to red. He nearly collided with a car that had the right-of-way. The brakes screeched as the car lurched forward. Ala clasped her chest as the strap from the seatbelt dug into her collarbone. “Jase!”
Panicked, Jase looked both ways and behind them. He was breathing heavily.
“You’re with Jase? Is he is town?” Gene said.
“No, I’m in Boston actually.”
“Boston? What for?”
“I had to come visit for a little while.”
“I’m mixed up.”
“It was a quick trip.”
Jase pulled over and got out of the car, slamming the door behind him. Ala saw him pacing on the sidewalk.
“Are you there?” Gene sounded irritated.
“Yes. I just am in the middle of something. Would it be alright if I called you back?”
“Sure. If you remember.”
“Gene-” He had hung up. Ala shoved her phone back into her bag and let herself out of the car.
Jase stopped pacing when he saw her.
“Why don’t you let me drive?”
He nodded. She climbed into the driver’s seat and adjusted the height. He closed the car door and put on the seatbelt. He put his hand on her wrist.
“I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
She shook her head and they pulled away. Slamming on the brakes and cutting off her circulation with the seatbelt, while knocking the wind out of her, didn’t hurt as much as them splitting apart had.
Fortunately, they were only a few blocks away from the hospital because Ala could not take the severe depression oozing from Jase. They had nothing to say to one another and the silence was thick and smothering.
When the elevator door opened, a lady who Ala recognized as one of family neighbors stepped out. She wore a large red hat with pink roses dangling from it and a tight cream suit that zipped up the back. She hugged Jase and patted his cheek. Ala stepped away to avoid hearing what they talked about.
Jase stepped into the elevator and Ala followed.
“Please. Do you know she’s sleeping with my father?”
Ala looked down and the dented scuffed linoleum. She heard recognizable voices as they made their made down the long hall. She averted her eyes from looking inside of the rooms.
The room Jase’s mother was staying in was bright and sterile. There were large pink and purple floral arrangements on every surface, along with all of the latest magazines, paper coffee cups and half empty water bottles.
Jase’s sister-in-law, Coffi, sat bouncing a fat infant on her lap while his brother talked business on his phone, while looking at the parking lot out the window. Jase’s younger sister was wedged on the bed with her legs half dangling off next to his mother.
His mother’s silvery blond hair was twisted up in a tortoise shell clip. It was flawless along with her light makeup. Her green brocade robe was placed over her shoulders, as if she had the slightest draft and her satin slippers hung from her tiny feet.
“Ala,” she said, her eyes turning a brighter blue as she held out her tan hand. “My dear.”
Ala walked over slowly and touched her warm hand. She bent to kiss her cheek and noticed that her skin felt more dry than she had remembered.
Jase’s sister smiled up at her. They hadn’t been close, mainly because she had spent years in rehab while Ala and Jase were dating and they never really were able to form a relationship. Jase’s brother looked over and nodded.
“Abigail, I brought you Jasmine,” Jase’s father said while entering the room. He nearly let the cup of scalding hot tea fall from his hand when he saw Ala.
“Hello,” Ala said and got up quickly to greet him. He wrapped his arms around his waist and gave her a strong hug.
“I’m glad you came back,” he said into her ear.
She took a step back, putting all of her weight on her right heel.
“Who?” She said, hearing him the first time, but wanting to buy any moments she could to process the name he had given. She had waited for this call, obsessed over how she would act when she spoke with him again. Whatever part of her being that held memories and bittersweet thoughts was ripped wide open. She felt cold hard droplets of sweat behind her ears.
“Jase. How are you?”
A couple ran past her to see what was going on that required sirens to be blaring as a patrol took over the parking lot.
“I’m fine. I didn’t think-“
“It’s so loud wherever you are.”
“I know. There’s some kind of, I’m not sure what’s going on.”
“Are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m just trying to see.” She craned her neck and stood on tiptoes but only saw the backs of heads.
“I miss you,” his voice sounded strong, but she could hear a higher pitch left behind after he said his words, which usually meant he was over-tired.
She closed her eyes. Even if she did miss him, and she was sure she did, somewhere, it wasn’t in the same way that he meant just now.
“Is everything okay, Jase?”
“It’s my mother. She’s very sick.” The phone fell from her hand and onto the pavement. When she picked it up, she noticed a small thunderbolt shaped crack in the upper left corner. She ran her finger over it. “Ala, you there?” She was terrified to get back on the line.
“I’m here. What is it? What does she have?”
“Ovarian cancer. The doctor said…” his voice cracked. Ala bit her tongue. “He didn’t know how long, but there’s nothing else to do.”
“Oh Jase.” She heard him hitting the side of his head like he did whenever he cried. This was from growing up with his veteran father who was cold and cruel. He had called Jase a “sissy” several times in front of her.
“I didn’t mean to do this. I just wanted you to know,” he started to sob. She cried too. She felt the sticky gobs of mascara on her cheeks.
“I’ll be there. I’ll come soon. Alright? Just, go to sleep. Please. Get some rest.”
She hung up and wrapped her arms around herself, crying in the now dark entryway of the clubhouse.
“Ala, there you are.” Danno came up and hugged her. She shivered and he pulled back to look at her. “Are you good? Sorry I was gone for awhile. This place really lit up.” She nodded and put the phone back into her purse. “We wont’ be having dinner here. One of the cooks put a dish with tinfoil on it in the microwave. Nearly torched the whole place.”
“I’m not hungry,” she said, letting him hold her. “I actually have to leave. I’ve gotten some very bad news.”
She rinsed out the coffee cups and put the coffee tin away. She went into the living room and gathered all of the clothes that had fallen out of her suitcase. She folded them into a pile. She got an old paper from the front proch and carried it to the recycling bin.
When she came back inside he was standing in the same spot from when she was on the phone with her mother. This was goodbye. She held her breath.
“My business is done for today,” he said, which sounded just as certain as his statements always were. He did have some hairs out of place, but otherwise looked completely collected.
Ala leaned against the doorframe. It was foolish to keep him in the house, when she had been told not to have guests.
“How about the track?” He said, looking out at the beautiful day she was silhouetted against.
She thought he was joking. She had visited Pikington Park this summer more than she had in her entire life. She knew nothing about horses or racing. She knew nothing about placing bets. It seemed like a waste of time.
He sensed her disappointment.
“All right, some other time. How about something more dangerous? Like a hike?”
She hung up and turned around. He was leaning against the archway.
Heat seemed to seep from her pores out of embarrassment. She tried to think of a way to explain that she was being checked in on by her mother. The look on his face did not seem to have concern for that issue, however.
“Ala, is there somewhere I can make a phone call?”
“Sure,” she said, realizing she had no idea which rooms had phones. She started to lead him down the hallway. There was a small den to the right that had some beige armchairs and an acrylic coffee table in it with a phone resting on top of it.
“Thanks,” he said, “Something just came up.”
She walked back into the kitchen and waited. This was it. His way out. He was surely talking with a dial tone right now, making up some story, just in case she was standing outside of the door listening in.
Of course the whole situation could not have been real. She was the person who followed a line, did not go on either side of it, jump ahead or lag behind, just stayed on the line. And normally it felt satisfactory. She could not get hurt by staying on the line. But nothing like him ever happened on the line either. He would be hard to forget.