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Short story: <i>The Phonecall</i>

It’s getting dark. I’ve probably been sitting here now for a couple of hours and I don’t think that I can move because the idea of getting up and getting out means that I would have to figure out what to do next and I just don’t think I can do that.

The concrete is cold where I’ve slid down onto it and even though my feet aren’t touching it my ankles and feet are starting to ache. My face is feeling sore and red and my eyes feel like they’re hanging out on stalks because my eyelids won’t fit over them but at the same time are right back in my head, sunken, like they’ve been pushed in there so they won’t fall out. That’s how my whole body and brain are feeling right now. Pushed and pulled. One way and the other way. Which is why I’m not going anywhere. I’m just going to sit here, holding this tiny stupid scrap of paper with a scribbled pencil phone number and a name on it.

There’s a metal grill behind me and it’s digging into my back. It’s probably leaving an imprint through my shirt, and if I ever leave and stand up and walk out into the real world and for some reason then decide to remove my shirt to do something normal like bathe or get changed then there will be the tiny criss-crosses of the grill all over in patches, a monument to my time here. Like a jailhouse tattoo. If they’d left the bottom in glass it would be more comfortable, but I guess a lot of people kick the glass out, or, like me, lock themselves in and contemplate self harm. I would contemplate self harm, but that would require thinking ahead and as I’ve established, not something I’m willing to look into.

Hypothetically, if I were to contemplate self harm, I might consider hanging myself with the cord of the phone. They’re pretty brutal, those cords. They’re all metal, not overly bendy, and I’d have to find something to attach the handpiece to while I wound it round my neck and then leaned forward. You don’t need that much pressure. I’ve seen movies where it’s possible to hang yourself kneeling from a door handle. As long as you’re willing to put the effort into actually lean away from the handle and then stay there while the oxygen is cut off.

I’m not willing to put in the effort.

The walls are disgusting, all chewing-gum and spit and god knows what else, and the phone and the little shelf underneath are all greasy from other people’s fingers. There’s graffiti all over the walls, giving even more options for people to call when they step inside. And that’s what you want really. You get in the phonebox, wondering whether or not you should finally make the call, the one that requires action, the one that means you’ve decided, the one where it’s okay that the receiver is pressing against bruises on your head, and then you’re confronted with other options like “for a good time call tina” and “lonely? call me” and other, even more direct invitations that aren’t for a nice girl like me but just make your head feel crazy and overwhelmed. And that’s where I’m at, right now, crazy and overwhelmed, sitting in the bottom of a phone box and ignoring the few remaining bystanders who decided to either try and get me out or to stare.

Most of them have gone now, they came for a show but really, what’s so great about some snivelling girl with a beat up face sitting in the bottom of a phone box for a couple of hours? I’m pretty sure they were hoping that I’d do something, perform, call someone and yell extravagantly, wait for my abusive husband to come and collect me and then we could have a stand up row and he could kill me in the street and they could cheer from the sidelines and somebody could sell popcorn. So at first, a crowd gathered, and some of them pretended they wanted to use the phone to try and get me out, but I wasn’t budging. If someone had decided to carry me out I would have gone; then they could decide where I go, what I do with the rest of my life, and whether or not I make that phonecall. But pretty soon they all got bored. Obviously the crowd diminished slightly and swelled again as new gawkers came for a look, but it’s probably about seven so they’ve passed me over in favour of Neighbours and dinner. Which is fair enough. It’s not like they were helpful anyway.

It’s getting quite a bit colder, and I’m having a hard time deciding whether or not to put in the effort that dying in the phonebox would entail, or walking home to see if I can get killed there, or just making the phonecall that I came out here to make and seeing whether that will take me closer to death making it a clean three out of three. I think I’ve decided that I can’t sit in this phonebooth forever.

That’s fairly momentous.

I’m going to get to my feet, smooth out this bit of paper, and see if I can still read the number after all my hours of scrunching.

I might as well see what’s behind door number three.

This is the result of a thirty minute writing exercise. This week I have taken one of the seven plotlines (theory being, all stories spring from only seven plots) and a random location. Today’s plot and setting were: "Rebirth" and a telephone box.

Image courtesy of hugovk.

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