Phone Call at Midnight

free write friday kellie elmoreThe shrill sound broke the silence of the night, jerking her out of her sleep. The hazy sleep fog was quickly banished, replaced by a pounding heartbeat. A phone call at this time of the night does not bode well. Throwing back the warm covers she gets out of bed, slipping her feet automatically into the slippers she has next to her bed. She moves quickly towards the ringing telephone.

“Hello?”

Her voice is uncertain and hesitant. She does not want to know the news that seeks her at the other end of the line.

“Mel? It’s Francis…”

“Tell me Francis. What is it?”

“It’s mom. She’s …”

Melanie closes her eyes, bracing herself for the next words. A picture flashes in her mind of Avery Langley, a blonde-haired woman in her early sixties who always has a kind word for everyone.

“She’s been in an accident Mel – and it is bad. The hospital phoned because my number was the only one on her phone. I had put it in, remember. I told her to put in everyone’s. I even showed her how, Mel. They say she is bad. She is unconscious and is bleeding internally. She needs surgery. We need to sign papers. Mel, I don’t know what to do.”

“I’ll meet you there Francis. Twenty minutes tops. We’ll be there for her like she has always been there for us. She can survive this, I know she can. Is she at Union hospital?”

“Yes.”

“I will meet you there. I am getting dressed now and will be there as quickly as I can.”

Hand shaking, Melanie puts the phone down. Closing her eyes briefly, she takes a deep breath. Mom, our steady rock. Now it is our turn. Time to move quickly. 

Shedding her pyjamas, Melanie grabs the jeans and sweater hanging neatly over the back of her chair. Changing quickly, she moves through her space while picking up her purse and car keys. Her mom needed her – and so did her younger sister Francis.

Phone calls at midnight never brought good news.

(This post was inspired by the titles suggested by Kellie Elmore for this week’s FWF)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

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51 thoughts on “Phone Call at Midnight

    1. Thank you Kellie. There are so many questions to answer: Will mom make it? If she does, what will her condition be? How will Francis, and even Melanie, cope with her accident? Who will take charge, and for how long?
      Isn’t it wonderful the stories you can create in your head?

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  1. My heart races whenever I get a call at an unusual time (worse if it’s late) and something like this always goes through my head. I like how you described her physical actions as her emotions unfolded.

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  2. Nice job with the prompt, I like the pace of your story and would love to see how it turns out 🙂 the only thing that stood out to me a bit was the way the dialogue was written in a few spots. It seemed a bit stiff in places, I only mention it because I feel (and this is just my irrelevant personal opinion) that especially in times of panic we are likely to loosen our tongues and speak less proper as we are fueled by adrenaline and emotion. Does that make sense? Eh, well anyway, great job I enjoyed your post!

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    1. Thank you for the tip. Though I have noticed in my experience that some people go very silent – and some even cry. If I were to work on this piece more, Francis would be the one who cannot stop speaking; and Melanie would be the one who gets things done without saying much.

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  3. Sadly midnight and early hours calls rarely bring anything but bad news (unless you’re on call-out rota in which case it means money in your pay packet!).

    We received news of my mother-in-law’s death following a road accident in Zimbabwe at around 2 from her Brother who had been contacted by the family over there. Initially it was confusing because you’re still shaking off the bonds of sleep when it happens – and the Brother being more than a little upset himself didn’t help. My Wife handled it well after the initial disbelief – I went and put the Kettle on. Tea – the universal specific for bad news situations in England. Sadly, unlike your heroine we couldn’t have got to the hospital. Tears would come when they were ready…

    I think the piece is well written Colline. I can envisage the situation of the phone with only 1 number on it – many people still keep numbers in their head (I do! and often beat the autodial into conference calls for work 😉 ) I think using words like puts and grabs rather than their singular versions sounds like you’re choerographing the situation and maybe that chioce of grammar isn’t quite right for this – ‘Melanie grabbed her trousers and put them on, struggling in her rush to get out the door.’ might work better for example. But ignore me, I’m more photographer than writer! 🙂

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    1. The times I have received these phone calls have also been to hear of death. It is not a pleasant way to hear the news.
      Thanks for the writing tips – I can understand why phrasing the sentence in this way would work better. I am an amateur writer myself and am learning all the time 🙂

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  4. I enjoyed this post! Made me think of my kids if ever they would get a call about me. I kept trying to remember if I put both my children in my cell phone….uh, yes, I did. This piece put me right there, hearing what my children would be doing for me. Scary indeed.

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