Calling Home
Al shoved the remaining pile of papers away. Pushing up his glasses he massaged the bridge of his nose which had become sore from their ever present pressure. Letting out a long sigh he rolled his neck about, easing out some of the tenseness. He reached for the phone to call Cynthia and tell her he would be late. It wasn't until he had completed dialing that he remembered Cynthia was gone, killed in an automobile accident the month prior.
"Damn,"he hissed, as a tear welled in his eye. He started to hang up.
Al froze, an icy chill racing up the length of his spine. Slowly, he returned the receiver to his ear.
"Al? Is that you?"
"Is something wrong?.....Al?"
"Yes, dear,"
"It's... It's really you. Isn't it?"
"Yes dear it's me. What did you expect. You can be so strange sometimes. Are you going to be late again?"
Al's heart was racing and he found that his palms were perspiring.
"I'm on my way home right now Cyn. I'll be there as soon as I can..."
He froze. What if she wasn't there when he got home. Would she disappear when he hung up.
"Cyn? Are you still there?"
"Yes I'm still here. So are you coming home? Wait'll you see what I painted today."
"Cyn...can we...can we just talk for a little while."
"Sure, we can talk when you get here."
"I was thinking maybe we should talk now."
"Hmmm, can't face me in person can you. Have you done something wrong?"
"This isn't something bad, is it?"
"No, I just want to talk."
"Whew, good. You were beginning to worry me."
As he listened to his voice Al found himself sinking to the floor pulling the phone with him.
"Honey are you still there?"
"Cyn, have I told you how much I love you?"
"What? Oh, I get it. You're feeling guilty for being a workaholic. Well, don't worry I know you love me."
"You do?"
"Of course I do silly. You tell it to me in so many subtle ways every day. And Al?"
"I love you too."
The tear rolled down his cheek and bounced off his chin before landing on the floor.
"Cyn, you're so wonderful. What would I do without..."
"Cyn, how's this possible. How am I talking to you?"
"You're using the phone."
"No, I mean how is it you're"
"Have you been talking to Mark again? He goes and gets a philosophy degree, and for what? To annoy people. With brain teasers. The next statement's true, the proceeding is false. Who needs it?"
"Nevermind, I suppose I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth."
"Honey, why don't you come home? I'm starting to worry about you."
"Cyn, do you remember college, how we met?"
"Are you kidding? I practically had to parade naked in front of you to get your attention Mr. Bookworm."
"You did."
"Oh yeah, that's right. And that night I was finally able to seduce you under the wharf."
Another tear rolled down Al's cheek, hanging for a moment on his sad smile before continuing it's downward journey. One after another they came. With each memory he shared on the phone with his wife. Good times, hard times, embarrassing times. They were all there. Bringing forth the joy and the sadness as he celebrated each.
"Cyn, I love you. I love you so much."
"And I love you, but please come home. I put on a nice stew...OH, MY God! The stew. It'll burn. I've got to go dear. Love you. See you when you get home."
"I love you,"Al whispered. He hung the phone up slowly. Then, getting his coat he left for home.
When he reached the house the lights were out and everything was quiet. He turned the key in the lock, then slowly...tentatively pushed the door open. His footsteps echoed as he walked into the hall.
"Cyn!" he called out.
There was no reply.