Sunday, June 14, 2015

Left Behind


This vignette was included in Vine Leaves Literary Journal Issue #2
This photo seemed perfect for sharing it again.



Left Behind

Theresa Milstein



            Jen’s fingers trembled as she dialed the phone. If her friends could see her now, they’d call her pathetic. But she had to speak to him.
            “Hello. This is Michael. Please leave your name and number at the sound of the beep and I’ll return your call as soon as possible.” 
            Jen hesitated before speaking. Too long. The receiver beeped and she jumped in surprise.  She disconnected the call. Hit speed dial. 
            “Hello. This is Michael. Please leave your name and number at the sound of the beep and I’ll return your call as soon as possible.” 
            She spoke quickly so the machine wouldn’t cut her off. “Hello,  Michael? This is Jen. I just wanted to hear the sound of your voice again. I miss you.” She inhaled. “Can you hear me?  Where are you?”
            A beep signaled the call had disconnected. Although her heart rumbled like an engine, she couldn’t stop now. Had to say it. He had to hear it.
“Hello. This is Michael. Please leave your name and number at the sound of the beep and I’ll return your call as soon as possible.”
“Michael, it’s me again—Jen. I know I shouldn’t keep calling. But what choice do I have? What you were thinking when you drove away? Do you even know? Did you give me a second thought as you flew out of my driveway? Your mother used to say…”
The beep signaled. She’d taken too long this time. Jen growled in frustration, stabbed the redial button.
“Hello. This is Michael. Please leave your name and number at the sound of the beep and I’ll return your call as soon as possible.”
His voice taunted her, mocking her sorry state. This time, she didn’t bother introducing herself.  “This is all your fault. Did you think I’d lose it like this? We had plans, Michael.  Do you remember them?  You’re so selfish.  How could you do this to me?”
Jen sobbed into incoherence before the machine cut her off. It took her a few minutes to calm down enough to dial. She couldn’t leave things like this.
“Hello. This is Michael. Please leave your name and number at the sound of the beep and I’ll return your call as soon as possible.”
Now his voice sounded like velvet—all animosity gone. Jen’s words cracked with sorrow and defeat. “Remember that day you made the picnic spread and surprised me with the ring in my fruit salad, and it was all sticky when you tried to put it on my finger? I can still hear you say, ‘This ring is a promise of forever.’ I trusted you’d keep your promise. I never needed a man to validate me. But after we fell in love, you became my present and my future. I don’t know who I am without you.”
This time, Jen cut the call. She closed her eyes, inhaled and exhaled. And redialed one last time.
“Hello. This is Michael. Please leave your name and number at the sound of the beep and I’ll return your call as soon as possible.”
 “Michael, I placed flowers on your grave today.”
            


45 comments:

  1. My, what a sad twist! Well done.

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  2. Great premise. I liked what I read.

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  3. Oh, what a creative take on the prompt..and so sad in the end. Dang reminded me of someone who saved a phone message from someone who passed to the other side, so she could listen to it and never forget the sound of his voice.

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    1. Truedessa, I can see replaying a voicemail message from someone I've lost.

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  4. Wow. Excellent write. The ending took me completely by surprise.

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  5. The end is so excellent.. To break a promise like that is forever.

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    1. Brudberg, forever is a hard promise to keep.

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  6. Hell hath no fury ! , she'll be fine , now , about the insurance ?

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    1. Kutamun, she was engaged, so I don't think she gets insurance.

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  7. Some just carry life on.....even with the dead. Sad tale.

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  8. Even though I saw it coming I still got chills at the end. Nicely done!

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  9. Oh wow, I was expecting something else. Such a sad twist. Very powerful piece.

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  10. Ooh...this gave me chills when I read that last line! Very powerful piece that kept me guessing until the end, Theresa. :)

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  11. I remember reading this in Vines. The photo only adds to the vignette’s poignancy. Very moving, Theresa.

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  12. I was just preparing to say: our attachments....but the end caught by surprise....this kind of attachments - for long time, they become catalyst of all next possible relationships....cool writing!

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  13. Hi Theresa ... so sad - so understandable ... so desperate ... so well written - cheers Hilary

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  14. I loved this story the first time I read it. And I still do. You are amazing, Theresa! Many congratulations, always!

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  15. This made me cry! Very well done and the end surprised me.
    ~Jess

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