This is a story I wrote and published thirty-two years ago. I’m posting this ‘cause I want to see how it stands up so many years later. I also want any feedback you can give me. I tried to expand on it a few years back, but it looked like it’s that kind of story where it’s best the way it is.
Call in the Night
The phone must have rung for at least five minutes before I woke out of a deep sleep to fumble for it.
“Hello,” I mumbled.
“Allan,” she asked, “Is that you?”
I started to say no, it wasn’t. Allan died two days ago because of a lack of sleep.
“Nancy, is that you?”
She didn’t answer for a moment. I could hear her soft breathing on the other end, and knew the answer to my question.
“Uh, huh,” she finally said. “Sorry to call so late, but I just had to speak to someone.” She paused, and I heard her take a deep breath. “No, that’s not true. I had to talk to you. Someone else just wouldn’t have been the same.”
I reached for a cigarette on the nightstand. As I was lighting it, her voice came over the phone.
“You know you shouldn’t be doing that.”
I grinned. She always hated my smoking in bed.
“What’s the matter, Nancy?” I said, changing the already sore subject.
“Nothing major,” she said, “I just thought you might like to know I’m getting married tomorrow.”
I dropped the cigarette on my chest.
“Damn!” I yelled, jumping to my feet, stamping out the brush fire that was breaking out on my chest.
She laughed on the other end of the line. “It isn’t that bad, is it?”
I told her about my now barren chest, knowing I would get another lecture. To my surprise, I didn’t.
“At first, I wasn’t going to tell you about it, “she began, “but then I realized how it would sound coming from someone else.” She paused, “I didn’t want you to get hurt.”
I started to tell her that was nice of her. Nice of her to call her ex-husband of two months to tell him she was in love with again and getting remarried. Nice of her to tell him that she was marrying a man she only knew for…
“How long have you known him, Nancy?”
She must have caught the bitterness in my voice. “About a month,” she answered slowly.
“Hmmm,” was all I could say, reaching for another cigarette.
“But he’s so good to me,” she began, “It’s like we’ve known each other for years.”
“We only knew each other for three months before we got married, Nancy,” I started, “and look what happened to us.” I didn’t tell her that she said it seemed we had known each other all our lives as well after we first met.
“I know,” she reasoned, “but it’s going to be different this time.”
I didn’t answer for a long time. “I hope so, Nancy. I really do.” And to my surprise, I really did.
“Well, I’ve got to go,” she said, “We’re leaving early in the morning for the coast.” She paused, “I’m sorry again for calling so late, but I really wanted to talk to you about it.”
“Thanks,” I smiled, “I always enjoy getting a call from a lovely lady at two in the morning. But it always seems that they call me to tell me of their upcoming nuptials.”
“Wish me luck.”
I hung up the receiver. Taking a long drag on my cigarette, I wondered if someone else had gotten a call the night before we had married. I hoped I’d never find out.
I crushed out the cigarette.