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A Phone Call- II

by Dreamy


TW: Death (The character goes in detail about a death, please don't read if discussions on the matter affect your well-being.) 

The nights become more gruelling than those I spent worrying about my future. The phone calls are all I think of day and night. I write in my diary to remind me of where my focus should be, but her voice keeps me away from all thoughts. Some dark nights and the one slightly alit by the full moon so far away, the idiocy of it all becomes clear and they grow bigger and bigger and haunt my common sense and my morals. But the mornings, hot bright mornings remove all doubts. The anticipation of who would pick up the call and will I get it right this time takes over and the excitement overshadows the weariness of the nights.

Sometimes the moon gets too big and overwhelming and the darkness suffocating. I twist and turn to shrug them off, I force myself to sleep by shutting my eyes and holding them down tight. But every time I close my eyes it’s her I see: a jaded, colourful mirage since it’s been a long time since I memorised her face. The tightness stresses my temple and gives me a headache. I sit straight on the bed in meditation.

The next day, too tired from the last night’s fight with the invisibility, I keep lying on the bed. My mom comes in and touches my forehead, “You’re burning! I told you so many times to keep those windows closed during the nights! Why don’t the men in this house never listen!”

By the mid-noon, the house is deserted. I get up and go straight to the telephone and dial the number. “Hello? Hello?” I don’t recognise the voice. “Whoever is calling, can you stop. I’m calling the police.” It’s a child’s voice. “As soon as you don’t hear anyone speaking on the other side, put down the receiver! We know who the calls are for!” I hear an older voice say. “Call the police, call the police, immedi…”

I take a cold shower before calling Karthick about the job. He’s glad I called, I’m glad too. Of course, he’ll help recommend me for the job. The boss is his father’s school friend. After all that I have done for him how could he not help me, he’s disappointed that I took so long to call him. I should pack my bags and meet him in the city immediately, he’ll arrange for a meeting the first thing in the morning. I shouldn’t wait any minute longer, after all that I’ve done for him.

When mom comes home, I give her the news and she’s ecstatic. She gives me the money she had saved, “Get Karthick something. Don’t go empty handed. Don’t wait for dad, he’ll be home late today. I’ll inform him. He’ll be very happy. You go before it’s too late.”

I leave before the sun sets. My mom follows me to the front of the house, I don’t look anywhere except the road ahead of me. I wave goodbye to mom and walk steadily, and a voice from the house calls my mom and she goes in towards the house. I turn back to see my mom as I turn around the corner. She wipes her tears from her eyes with her pallu and begins to inform the voice where I am headed.

Karthick is wearing a suit. I get down the bus and he embraces me like he usually does. I should have called him a long back, I think to myself. He takes me to his apartment and shows me around, showing me everything the office has given to accommodate him, I will have the same when I’m hired which I obviously shouldn’t have to worry about because he has taken care of it all. I thank him.

He brings me my dinner and couple of beers. I tell him I’m not hungry and head to bed. He pulls me by my hand and takes me to the dinning table. “I was nervous too, you know. When I had my interview. I was so scared I couldn’t sleep all night. I know what you’re thinking, boss is my father’s school friend. But it isn’t that easy. My father just held the door, I had to do it all. The first time I saw the boss, I knew he was just doing a favour, he wasn’t really going to hire me. He knew that, I knew that so I went all in.” He laughs his loud laugh, “His face… he was blown away. I don’t know where all the confidence came from.” He continued laughing.

“It’s just… I don’t know if I…” I begin. He interrupts me, “Hey, of course you can. Remember the time I almost fainted before talking to that girl and how you told me she’s only flesh and bones like us, like everyone else. Like all human beings. It worked wonders for me. Boss, too, is only flesh and bones, man. Come on. Eat. You don’t want to faint in your interview, though that will make a good story.” He laughs.

I travel back home right after the interview to tell mom of the good news. Karthick promised to call and fill in the details to my dad himself. I was to pack all of my clothes, stitch a couple of suits and buy shoes. I was to move in with Karthick for the time being till everything was sorted. Everything happened so quickly; everything moves too fast. As soon as I get on the bus, I fall asleep and when I wake up I’m at the bus terminal, all alone inside the bus.

I had completely forgotten about everything until I come up at the corner of the street. I walk ahead trying not to look at the house but the front of the house is crowded, people are walking in and out. I step into my unlocked, empty home. I call for my mom a couple of times, but she doesn’t answer and she’s not in the kitchen either. I go inside and put my bag on my bed. I walk out of my home and stand beside the grilled gate. A man walks up to me and asks how I am. As I answer him my mom walks out of the house, she smiles at me and we both walk inside our home. She immediately heads into the kitchen and starts making tea. I don’t ask her what happened. “How was the interview?” I tell her that I got the job. She comes out the kitchen and hugs me, she holds me tighter and I’m scared she’ll hear my heart jumping inside my ribcage. She touches my cheeks and I smile weakly. She goes back into the kitchen and I work up the courage, “Ma, what happened?” She begins to cry. “The new bride killed herself. She poured kerosene and lighted herself. I knew something like this would happen. They were always fighting. Newly weds don’t fight that much. I only ever saw them smiling when they came home from their reception. Since day one. His mother would always tell me stories of how she’s always on the phone and talking to someone. Apparently, she got a call everyday and whoever was on the phone only ever talked to her. If anyone else picked it, there would be no answer. I told them we sometimes get calls like that too but they were sure that there was someone. Poor girl. She was so kind and very loving. She would bring me tea every time I go to their house, she was so soft-spoken. Who knew she would do something like this. I never saw her rise her voice ever, even when her mother-in-law made her job to tell stories about her to anyone who’ll ever listen. Even I told that woman to let the poor girl be but… god has no eyes! The poor girl’s parents. Her mother is still unconscious. Her father hasn’t said a word till now. Such a beautiful girl, they must have had so many dreams for her. Your father called the police, he thinks it must be because of dowry. Poor girl. Are you ok? You look so pale. You must be so tired. Why don’t you lie down, I’ll bring you tea.”


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Mon Oct 05, 2020 7:46 pm
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Lava wrote a review...



oooh intesresting, Dreamy! I did not expect it to take that turn!

You really got a good character read ona an avg Indian male, early nineties, confidence illama, trying to talk to girl vibe. It really cuts through. Though the using of 'mom' 'dad' kind of felt a little off for the time period/character given the vibe you were building and something like ma/pa||amma/appa would've made it sound more appropriate.

Loved your imagery on the kolam and mornings in the other part of the story. (Also my brain was thinking of pepsi uma >.>)

I never got that the mom would have a crying reaction to the new bride. It didn't seemlike she new the bride v well in the previous part and here it sounds like she's been over to this bride's place multiple times. It made me rethink the mom's character a bit. "I never saw her rise her voice ever," I think it's raise?

Would've liked to see a bit more interspersed vignettes of his feelsings about finding a job vs calling this woman too. It would make it feel like we're getting into his character a bit more.

Anyway, this was a fun read!! Thanks!!
-L




Dreamy says...


HEY HEY HEY! Lavly! It's nice to see you back and reviewing. <3 Yes, Pepsi Uma is who I referred to in the story, lel, though I think she was active in '03 or '06. So yes, I will have to change the whole "amma/appa" and the year too. Initially, I wanted to write scenes where he would go job hunting too but decided against it. I mean, there's no way the guy is going to go hunting for a job, he's already been home for six months. No freshly passed out in our country stays home for six months. :/ He was always going to call his friend, he only needed a push. And the push was someone else picking up the phone and threaten him that they'll call the police. ^^ I have to fully revise and rewrite it. THANK YOU for reading and reviewing!



Lava says...


ooh, I get the police threaten push bit now. I don't think I kind of gleaned that from the story

let me know when you put up a revision! This like dark,macabre twist was unexpected in a v good way!



Dreamy says...


Aw, thanks. :D I'll let you know fo sure. ;)



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Mon Oct 05, 2020 7:45 pm
Lava says...



.




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Thu Oct 01, 2020 2:26 am
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Heya Dreamy,

Shady here with a review for the second part of your story! I'm super excited to see where you take this!

But the mornings, hot bright mornings remove all doubts


Don't love the repetition of the word "mornings" in this sentence. I would suggest rephrasing it. Even something like "But once I awake, the hot, bright mornings remove all doubt" or something like that?

I shouldn’t wait any minute longer, after all that I’ve done for him.


I'm really curious for you to go into this a bit more. You've repeated a couple of times now that the narrator has "all that I've done for him" but don't give us even an inkling of what "all" might be?

pallu


So this is something I noticed in the last segment of this story, but it came up again, so I thought I'd mention it. From the woman's art in the first chapter and also this mention, I get the vibes that this is a Middle Eastern setting which is SUPER cool, I love that! But it makes me wonder... do people in this culture actually call their parents "mom" and "dad"? I have no idea the answer to that! It just seems a bit odd, but if that's authentic, then definitely go for it!

I should have called him a long back, I think to myself.


"a long back" isn't really a phrase I'm familiar with. Maybe phrase it more like "a long time ago" or something?

She poured kerosene and lighted herself.


O.o that was unexpected

(Last paragraph is also WAY too long, like I mentioned on the last section.)

~ ~ ~

I really like this story! You did a really nice job of dealing with a lot of super heavy topics and giving me some emotions to work through alongside the narrator of this story. I am really glad I read this! You are a talented author and I enjoyed your story.

Keep writing!

~Shady 8)




Dreamy says...


Hey, Shady. Karthick tells what the narrator has done for him which is help him with his confidence to speak to a girl. These men are so trivial yet those trivialities have bigger consequences, unfortunately.

The story is set in South Asia. 1993 was the beginning of gobalisation in South Asia so it wouldn't be too far fetched if he really called his parents "mom & dad" but it's still too early and so appears inauthentic. I should probably change the year to '98 or '99. Some of the dialogues and the sentence structures are reflective of how people in South Asia speak English. We speak English like we speak our native tongue so it has lot of odd sentences and sentence pattern. But if I want the story to appeal to audience outside of the continent, I should definitely take care of it so thank you for pointing it out.

The last paragraph is supposed to be long and breathless because of what's being said, haha. It is supposed to be one long read. As you suggested, I should probably cut down the previous paragraphs so I can retain the last one. :P

Thank you for the review and for kind words. <3



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Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:30 pm
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RadDog13579 wrote a review...



Hi @Dreamy, RadDog here! Today I'll be reviewing the second (And maybe final but I don't know) part to your short series The Phone Call.

This was pretty intense and emotional. I really liked how you made it tap in with emotions. The character interactions felt fluid and realistic which is really good. I do think that some of the dialogue needs work though. Extra dialogue tags and adjectives would make it that much better. Also, you have some lengthy paragraphs that need to be broken up again. Other than that this was an amazing piece! Until we meet again, happy writing!

-RadDog




Dreamy says...


Hey, thank you for reading and reviewing.




I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.
— Thomas Edison