call by ingridfnl

28 Nov

Zita picked up her ringing cell phone just as her two-year old, Melvin, pushed a bowl of strained peas on to the floor.

“Hello?” Zita asked.

“Phone! Phone! Phone!” Melvin chanted in the background.

“Honey, shhhht,” Zita chided.

Nothing. Not even heavy breathing. Just the sound of a click. A crank phone call again she figured, as she put down the phone. Recently these calls had come more often. As much as Zita was annoyed, she somehow found herself looking forward to them. At least someone thought it was worth calling her. After all it was her personal cell phone that no one seemed to call except for the occasional babysitter. Her husband thought that her owning a cell was absurd since apparently she had “no reason to own one.”

Melvin grinned at her through a pea stained face. He had managed to run his fingers through his hair. Zita sighed, “OK little man, let’s get you cleaned up, you messy boy.”

“Duhty! Duhty! Duhty!” Melvin insisted.

“That’s right you’re a right mess,” she said as she picked it up.

He threw himself into her arm knocking her on the chin and wrapped pea covered fingers around her neck. She carried Melvin to the tub to start her three-times daily hose off… It was only a couple of hours til her other kids came home from school, and then her husband–all of them demanding something: help with homework, clean socks, a bedtime story, supper…

After undressing Melvin she sat him in the bottom of the tub and said, “OK buddy, it’s time for the rain!”

“Wain! Wain! Wain!” he replied. “Wain!” For whatever reason he loved this ritual. Zita half suspected that he got ‘duhty’ on purpose. He was already holding two of his toy boats and was telling some half-intelligible story to them. “Waining!”

Just as she held the shower head above Melvin’s head, her cell phone rang again. She held the shower head with one hand and answered the phone with the other, “Hello?”

A breath in and then, “Zita.”

“Oh,” she answered, dropping her hand and spraying Melvin in the face.

He sputtered and started laughing.

“Zita. How are you?”

“Dad,” she answered. “Why are you calling me?” Her hands were shaking and she found herself swaying the shower head over Melvin as if she were watering plants in the garden, much to Melvin’s delight.

“I just. I’m… is that … I can hear your… your child.”

“It’s Melvin. Melvin. He’s two years old…. Oh that’s right, you wouldn’t know, since I never heard from you after Jason was born,” Zita replied. She felt all the hurt of his absence bubbling up: her failed magician father, the one who was forever on a cruise, who apologized whenever he got lonely, the one who hadn’t even attended her mother’s funeral.

“I just called to say,” he replied, “I’m sorry and I miss you.”

Zita found herself dropping her phone in the toilet, then wrapping the ever-happy Melvin up in a large towel and holding him to herself, her tears mingling with her small son’s wet hair.


One Response to “call by ingridfnl”


  1. margaret and the magician by ingridfnl « the character project - December 12, 2010

    […] (Originating stories for these characters: taken aback and call) […]

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