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Sean Daly
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7071900.jpg
Art by Lonni Lees 2017

707-1900

by Sean Daly

 When the phone rings we check the caller ID and know that it’s him, that he’s calling to lure her back, calling to beg some kind of forgiveness for his monstrous behavior, I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened, I never meant to hit you, and she whispers something that’s not quite an understanding of his actions, not an excuse, just something. She has kids and they’re scared and that must be dealt with in some way, and she probably thinks that the same mix of mommy, daddy, and kids under the same roof will do the trick.

Time can cure everything, she must be thinking, and he must be so convincing on the other end of the line, his resolutions always hitting the mark, so he knows, too, he does. We can only imagine that the need for normalcy is what she wants. A reconciliation because it’s happened before and we know that he’s begging for it - for redemption as we wait, all of us, all of us in the office have  been down this road with her and we imagine what he’s saying. I’ve always been there for you, FlacaI was there after the first marriage. One of the facts she repeats over and over to us at random times. We can say nothing, nothing in light of what we know, things like don’t pick up the phone, don’t answer 707-1900. When it comes up 707-1900 you can hear breathing in the office, Christ, can someone say, she’s not here, she’s moved out, she’s bought a gun, she’s moved to a shelter or back home, or out of the state? Can someone say that?

It’s ringing now and the number appears. Everyone freezes and we have to leave it to her to pick up the phone. She presses it against her bruised lobe and listens; she’s always listening at this point. Listening for a story line that she can follow, one that she can buy into. In the end what choice does she have? Come on let’s face it? We all pretend not to know that he talking about a fresh start, a line that she falls for every time, and we all secretly hate her with each second, but isn’t it easy for all of us who have never lived inside her skin? 

She must have felt different from the beginning, half black, half white, but not only that, Hispanic white, and when there was abuse in her family home when she was a kid she froze in fear with her hands over her ears, eyes closed, until it was over, and later told herself that when she got married it would never happen in her house - that the yelling, the finger pointing, and turning over of unfixed furniture in a flurry, in an unhinged moment, will not be tolerated in her house .Now this – the very thing she fought against. 

We see that docile look on her face, like she’s given into the voices of other people; we just don’t know who they are. Listen to us (we want to say), we’d love to set her straight, give her a new script to follow, a new story line, but we all pretend that it isn’t happening (so we say nothing) and when she comes to work the way she does, scared, embarrassed, she smiles as a reflex and we smile back as a reflex (that’s how we communicate.) Can you get this or that file? Something along those lines. Followed by mutual smiles. It’s either that, or its mutual trembling, so she’s on the phone right now and everyone in the office stops what they are doing and leans toward her cubicle, why won’t she tell him it’s over? That she can’t go back? That he should leave for good?

We’re all listening now and she’s silent and her muffled voice with Spanish words, here and there, means she’s given in again, and the phone is hung up with a light click like she never picked up the number 707-1900 – those dreaded numbers. Now all of us breathe again, move freely,  go back to what we were doing, go back to hating him, and hating her, hating them both and their  kids too, and go on walking by the picture of the five of them held together by a magnet on her monitor. Hating all of them.

 

Sean’s work has appeared in various literary journals and magazine. He lives in Ojai CA. with a dog, two cats and two humans.

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