Caller Unknown

This was a quick piece of flash fiction for a writing prompt. The rules are to write a piece of flash of up to 250 words that include all five prompt words: pace, musical, hiccup, telephone and insight.

The old Bakelite telephone rang. I always did like those phones and once I had my own place, I’d found an original on eBay that had been refurbed. It looked perfectly anachronistic on the IKEA console table in the hallway and I loved it. Occasionally, it’d hiccup, a short, half-ring that got my attention. Jokingly, I’d soothe the phone, “I’m not ignoring you,” I’d say, in passing.

My sister Lauren and her kids were visiting, leaving chaotic piles of coats and toys and goodness knows what else in their wake. Now, the phone was ringing, its musical tone muffled by damp jackets and the shriek of small children running havoc.

“You should have caller display,” Lauren admonished as I surveyed the mess. “You can see who’s ringing you then.”

I picked over muddy boots and came to her five-year-old’s coat. The phone would be underneath it somewhere. It still rang, insistent, getting louder as I removed the clothes. I tried not to knock the handset and disconnect the call and strangely, I could swear the ring was faster, a more urgent pace than before.

“It’s like roulette with those things,” Lauren continued. “It could be Mum. Could be the electricity compa—”

“Thanks for the insight.” Finally, the phone was in my hand. “Hello?”

There was no reply, just silence. Not a dead line, but, nothing… I put the handset back on its cradle.

“Oh, is your phone telling you not to ignore it?” Lauren laughed.

I backed away from the phone.

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Emma K. Leadley

Speculative fiction writer, word herder, voracious reader and creative geek. Loves a good pun. They/she.

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Emma K. Leadley, short story author