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The Phone Call (Short Story)
Tina sat in front of the fire trying to concentrate on the book, but her ears were straining to hear the telephone ring. Neil should call anytime now and she didn't want anyone else to answer the phone. It was getting more difficult to show her family that she was immune to his charm.
Tina smiled to herself as she thought of the vehemence with which she had protested against the arranged marriage proposal which had brought Neil into her life. She had wanted to study, to work, to do something in life before the shackles of marriage and the responsibility of home making bound her down.
Despite all her plans and protests her aunt had brought this proposal to her. Her mother had convinced her to at least get to know the boy, and if she said no after that there would be no pressure. He could become a friend if nothing else her mother had said. With great reluctance Tina had agreed and the correspondence had begun.
From letters it slowly transformed into phone calls and the frequency had also increased. He came across as such a delightful person, how could she not be interested in him? As they spoke and wrote to each other they started making tentative plans to meet.
The phone rang and Tina ran to answer it, but from the tone of the ring she knew it was not an out of station call but a local one. It was a friend of her mother's. Tina handed over the receiver to her mother and went back to her book. It was not holding her attention any more.
It was a good book on Victorian poetry. She was quite fond of Elizabeth Barret Browning's sonnets as a rule, but the delicate sentiments in the acclaimed poetess' sonnets were not what she was in the mood for just then. Even though the separation and feelings of longing were well reflecting her own emotions.
Tina sat with the book in her hand and thought back to the first time that they had spoken. It was on a Sunday evening. At first there had been awkward silences as the two of them fought their nervousness and then they had taken off like a house on fire. After which there had been no stopping them. Her father was already complaining about the high phone bills.
The doorbell rang and Tina snapped out of her reverie. She glanced at the clock as her mother answered the door. It was getting late and she wondered why Neil had not called as yet. She began wondering if he was okay. She hoped nothing bad had happened to him. The thought of him being in an accident or being harmed crossed her mind.
She began imagining all the worst scenarios that may have befallen him. Fear gripped her heart like an icy hand as she imagined the worst. Should she share her fears with the rest of the family, no not yet. Maybe he was alright,maybe he was busy, maybe he just forgot to call. That sent her emotions off on a tangent.
Was she a fool sitting over here waiting for the phone to ring while he was out with some other girl? How could she know what he really was like? After all they had never met in person. For all she knew he was just the kind of two timing guy every sane woman avoided like the plague. He could just be playing with her emotions.
Well she would just show him if that was the case. She would not think about him at all. She spent the rest of the evening going about the daily routine without looking again at the clock. She had dinner with the family and when her traitor heart sneaked in the fact that Neil had still not called she shut down the thought and ate with gusto.
She was about to go to the bedroom after helping clear the table when the phone rang. The rest of the family looked at her as she very deliberately crossed the room to pick up the phone. All of them went out of the room to give her some privacy. She cradled the receiver in her hand and said "Hello."
"Hello Tina" came Neil's warm voice over the line, "I've been trying to get through all evening but the lines have been jammed."
It was him. He had been trying to call her. She mood lifted and her heart soared with joy as she said softly into the phone, "I was wondering when you would call."