Short Story: Last Call

Footsteps crunched along the gravelled path towards an old red telephone box. Then they stopped. Hopper hesitated, horrified by the news he had foreseen. He hated his gift. It had haunted him for years. However, this vision rocked him to his core. His stomach churned, his legs heavy as led, and his hands juggled a couple of silver coins.

      His body shook as the fresh lake breeze chilled his skin. A boat sailed into the dock, one meant for him, his last voyage. His dilemma, however, was not what was about to occur. Who would he call? Who would he choose for his final, in-depth conversation before his death?

       He had never really contemplated this before. He never had to. He had to live with the fact that an average piece of fruit he had purchased from the marketplace earlier would be his last meal. Why did he have to pat his marshmallow stomach and experience a moment of guilt about his weight? He did not want to make the same mistake with this phone call.

      Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! Hopper stood beside the door of the phone booth. There were so many people he needed to speak to.

      ‘Maybe I call, mum?’ he pondered, his eyes glued to the twenty and ten cent pieces in his hand. ‘Ten years is a long time to hold a grudge. Maybe dad will be there too.’

        His hand reached for the door handle. ‘No! I need to call work. Tell them I may be on indefinite leave.’ he mused for a moment. ‘They’d ask too many questions. Not sure they’d believe I am about to die.’

        His hand intensified its grip on the handle. ‘Too late to ring a lawyer about a will. Don’t have anything to leave anyone anyway.’

      He pulled on it. Smack! Bang! ‘Idiot!’ he remarked as he rubbed his head. He lifted his gaze towards the picturesque lake and the silhouette of the mountains in the background. It triggered a memory, a special one. At that moment, he knew who he had to ring.

        ‘It’s her,’ the words slipped from his lips. ‘I must tell her how I feel.’

      A sudden flutter of his heart and a vision of a woman in his mind eased his tension. The image of her short, blonde/brown hair, beautiful large brown eyes, thick black eyelashes, and her fit, petite physique. Even the tattoos that decorated her skin all dissolved the fear of what was about to come.

     He pushed the door open and entrapped himself within the confined space of the telephone booth. Cling! Cling! The coins slid into the coin slot and joined the others trapped within the device. Hopper had drawn a blank. What was her number? Did it end in 1045 or 1044?

      He was about to tell the one woman he had ever loved how he felt, and a simple thing as her number had slipped his mind. He could recall every tattoo on her body and the reason why she got them. Where she was born. Grew up. Went to school. The marble kitchen benchtop in her house. The marvellous chocolates she made. However, her number had escaped him, and his gift had become paralysed by its last discovery.

      He dialled nervously, his fingers barely fitting in the old circular dial. Ding! Rattle, rattle, rattle! He went on a hunch. He waited. Beeps rang through the earpiece. Someone answered the phone. His chest tightened. His mouth open with anticipation. His skin tingled as the voice announced itself on the other end of the line.     

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