Fast Fiction: Call From the Past

I lay on the carpeted floor of my living room, my feet up onto the couch cushion where a normal person would sit, and lazily fan myself with the Lamaze pamphlet. The window is wide open, bringing nothing but July humidity into the apartment, and the ceiling fan is spinning so fast it shakes. It is on the highest speed, but it does nothing but swirl the hot afternoon air around me. Useless. I lay my free hand atop my enormous belly and decide no sex is ever worth the 8 and a half months of agony I have been through. Screw. This. Screw motherhood, screw sweet talking Jaylin, screw summer in Brooklyn, screw— 

The phone starts ringing. It’s the landline. Way on the other side of the apartment, perched right beside the toaster oven. Ringing, ringing. I continue to fan myself with the pamphlet and close my eyes. It is probably a telemarketer. Isn’t it always a telemarketer? I mean, what is the point of landlines anymore? I make a mental note to ask Jaylin to get rid of the damn thing, once he gets back from the grocery store, but I know my baby brain will make me forget.

“You’ve reached Jaylin and Jennette, leave a message.” A beep and then a voice. It is not a telemarketer.

“I’m back in town,” his voice says. Husky, but gentle, the way I remember it. I freeze. Hold my breath. The whole apartment seems to hold its breath with me.

“It’s been a while, Jen, I know that.”

“Eleven years you son of a bitch,” I yell, still stuck on the floor. It would take me a full minute to get my feet down from the couch. Another five to get up off the floor. He’ll be gone by then. He never did stick around long, did he.

Still, his face floods my mind. It’s all I see.

I drag the back of my hand across my damp forehead and listen. I can hear him breathing into the receiver. Rhythmic. Slow.

“Call me back,” he says finally. “I have things I need to explain. I’ve changed.”

There is a click and he’s gone, and the world comes back into view again. 

Then, as if on cue, there is another click, and Jaylin is entering, plastic grocery bags hanging from every part of him.

“Hey, baby,” he says to me. Then, “Hey Baby!” (This is the way he greets me every time he comes home.) He places the bags on the counter.

“They were all out of that juice you wanted, so I can check tomorrow. The manager said they should be getting a shipment then. Oh! A missed call! Jen, baby, did someone call?” 

He sounds excited and heads for the phone, and I don’t know how to stop him.

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