It’s four a.m. and I’m in the office. Haven’t been home for seventy two hours; big project at work. Need to call home. Oh, she knows I’m at work. It’s just I haven’t called in and have been here much longer than expected. Need to call home now.
Here’s a phone. The buttons are small. I put in the numbers—damn, I screw it up—I put in the numbers again, and—damn, I screw it up again. This phone is just too small and hard to use. For some reason it won’t let me use it. It doesn’t want me to get through. My fingers turn all thumbs when I go to dial it. God damn it—I will find another phone.
Run downstairs and around the corner—go down the stairwell—there’s an executive area there. It is 4 a.m. No one will be there. I go to the secretary’s station—there’s a phone—but it has no buttons! When I pick it up, a voice says Yes?
I need to call home—I need to call home now—
Please provide your passcode or the last four numbers of your social.
I blurt out the last four letters of my social—who the hell has a passcode—
Connecting, says the voice.
Connecting? Connecting to what? I have not given my phone number. This is useless. I slam it down. I run through a long corridor to an area where there are many cardboard boxes stacked. There’s a phone there—a dial phone—with a lock on it! There are many cubicles—many desks—many phones. I pick one up. There’s a dial tone—and I try to type in my home number but I have the same problem I had with the first phone—I can’t dial right—the keys are too tiny for my sausage like fingers. Time is passing—she’s angry, I know she’s angry.
Frustrated, tired of all this, I step into the living room.
She is going out the front door onto the porch naked, for all to see.
She is going to humiliate herself. I call out to her.
No—don’t go out on the porch naked—
It’s wrong to go out on the porch naked—
I will call—you will see!
You will see—
She goes out on the porch naked and bends over to fold some clothes she has laid out there. No! I cry—but she seems not to hear me. The sun beats down. I may as well not be there. I am not there, I tell myself—this is not happening—and at last my phone call goes through. I am leaning on a grey filing cabinet in a room teeming with people. I know she is on the phone but the din of the people makes it pointless. I yell I’ll be home soon and she says something I can’t make out—and I hang up, all impotent, turning a dark grey inside.
Jim Meirose's work has appeared in numerous journals, including the Fiddlehead, Witness, Alaska Quarterly review, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards. Two collections of his short work have been published and his novel, "Claire", is available from Amazon.