looking and listening by phoenix.writing

13 Jun

It was Tommy’s idea to take the phone.  Veronica said that would be stealing, but Alice had heard her big sister explain how something that was normally bad could be good if you did it for the right reasons.  None of them totally understood this, but it sounded very grown up, and none of them could ever remember Miss Mason using a cell phone or acting like this before.  She looked sort of all wilty, like a plant that hadn’t got enough water or sunshine, but she kept telling them that she was okay.

Jason and Heidi were the ones who had noticed the cell phone wiggling around on Miss Mason’s desk because they sat at the front, and when they’d pointed it out, Miss Mason had snatched it up and answered it while she was standing right in front of them.

The person she was talking to wasn’t the right one, they’d all understood that much, and it was after she’d hung up—looking angry like she did if they made a mess with the finger paints—that she told them that she was waiting for a very important call and that was why the phone was on during class time.  It was so important, she said, that she was going to leave the volume on so that she’d hear when there was a call and not miss the important one.

Felix had counted on his fingers, and he’d made it all the way to six before it was recess time.  Miss Mason had used her unhappy voice each time, and Alice was pretty sure that they’d almost got to hear some of those grown up words that her big sister got in trouble for saying.  During the last call, Miss Mason had said that she didn’t ever want to talk to the other person again because there were some things you couldn’t ever forgive.  That was not like Miss Mason at all; she had put Veronica and Alice in time out last week when they had got into a fight and said that they didn’t like one another anymore.

This was why they got together to talk about it at recess.  Miss Mason was still waiting for the important call, so they couldn’t just get rid of the phone (which was too bad because Jason said dropping a cell phone in the toilet worked perfectly, and that would have been fun).  If they took it, Tommy said, then they could listen for the important call and make sure that Miss Mason didn’t get more upset when the wrong person called.

Miss Mason was usually good at spotting when they had a plan, but she still wasn’t behaving like normal, and they didn’t see her for most of recess because she’d disappeared with the phone, and then they were hurrying back inside and looking at the way that Miss Mason’s lips were pressed into a thin line, the kind of line they normally made when someone from her class was being bullied by one of the mean third grade kids.

Felix had almost run out of fingers by lunch time.  They had never had so many interruptions to a class before.  Miss Mason had finally hissed that the person who kept calling needed to stop before she got fired, and she needed to keep her job because—but they hadn’t heard why because Miss Mason had gone white, lips pressed so tightly together that they looked white, too, and then she had hung up the phone without finishing her sentence.  That was quite rude, and that meant that it was Veronica’s turn.

Miss Mason plunked the phone down too hard on her desk and turned back to them with a determined look, trying to smile.  She had just started telling them that it was time to tidy up when Veronica had one of her tantrums.  She kicked, screamed, yelled, cried and pretty much made it impossible for anyone else to hear anything or concentrate on anything but her.  They’d timed it exactly right, too; Mr. Brown from the classroom next door and Miss Gregory from the classroom across the hall came to get all of them.  Miss Mason went to try to calm Veronica down, and Tommy was able to scoop the phone off the desk without anyone else noticing.

Veronica liked Miss Mason, so she didn’t have nearly as many tantrums as she had done for Miss White, but everyone still knew that it always took a long time to calm Veronica down, and they had learned that Miss Mason was good at it.

Since Miss Gregory and Mr. Brown were paying at least half their attention to the tantrum, peering across the hall and listening for sounds of it getting quieter, they were happy that the rest of the kids were behaving, and they didn’t seem to notice how many of them were clustered around the small piece of technology that Tommy was holding.

Tommy’s mom said no cell phones ’til he was twelve, but Alice’s parents let her talk on theirs sometimes; when the phone rang she was able to answer it before the teachers noticed.

They all moved as close as they could, tilting their heads towards the phone.

“Linda, just hear me out, this is important.  I’m sorry I messed up, but you need to come to the hospital now.”

They exchanged looks.  Going to the hospital now sounded like an important message, but if the man had messed up, he was probably the one who had made Miss Mason upset before.

“Linda, are you there?”

It had been Tommy’s idea to take the phone, so when Heidi nudged him, he asked, “Why does Miss Mason have to go to the hospital?”

“Who’s this?”

When he got nods of encouragement from the others, Tommy said, “I’m Tommy.  We took Miss Mason’s phone ’cause you’re upsetting her.  Why does she have to go to the hospital?”

The man on the other end of the phone was quiet again before he finally said, “Maybe she’ll listen to you.  Please tell her that Stacey’s conscious, and she’s had the baby.  It looks like they’re going to be okay.”

They exchanged looks again.  “Is this the important news?”

“Yeah, that’s what she wanted to know.”

“Are you going to stop upsetting her?”

He sighed.  “I won’t call anymore.”

Tommy nodded.  “Then we’ll tell her what you said. ‘Bye.”

Alice stopped the call, and they agreed that babies were pretty important; most of them had seen how weird moms and dads got when there were babies coming.

Heidi, Jason, and Felix went to distract Miss Gregory and Mr. Brown, and Tommy and Alice crossed the hallway to their classroom.  They hadn’t been sure how long this would take, so Veronica was still in the middle of her tantrum.

They told Miss Mason all about the phone call, and Miss Mason looked all white and wilty again, and then she got Miss Gregory and Mr. Brown to look after them so she could hurry off to the hospital.

They all agreed that if there was a next time, it would be a lot simpler for Miss Mason to spend the whole day at the hospital and not come to class and be upset.  It was good that everyone seemed to be safe there, and they would be happy when Miss Mason was back to her normal cheerful self.  In a little while, they’d ask if the baby could come visit them.  Maybe they’d get to see Stacey, too, and find out if Miss Mason had forgiven the man who had made her angry.  They agreed that this would make an excellent show and tell.


7 Responses to “looking and listening by phoenix.writing”

  1. ingridfnl June 14, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Oh! How great that you wrote this from the kids’ perspective. I like how they read her cues not just from what she says but also from her body language. This surprised me in the best possible way.

    • phoenix.writing September 19, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

      II was trying to figure out how to craft the story without giving too much away, and I suddenly realised that it would be really interesting to see how the kids reacted to everything. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  2. jmforceton June 14, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    Very creative, great read.

    • phoenix.writing September 19, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

      Thanks. 🙂

  3. juleshg June 20, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    I love the kids. I agree that it was a nice twist to see the day from their perspective. I am very curious about Stacey and ‘the caller’.

    • phoenix.writing September 19, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

      The kids were fun to create and try to make unique in their little ways. There is backstory that may get the chance to come out at some point… 🙂


  1. coffee confessions by phoenix.writing « the character project - October 12, 2010

    […] David, Stacey, and Linda have shown up previously in Cold Feet, Peacekeeping, and Looking and Listening. […]

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