"Phone Calls from Caroline"

Chapter 1
Planning A Funeral

By BethShelby



Hello, is this Beth?

Yes, it's me. Don’t you recognize my voice, Caroline?

Well you don’t sound right. Must be that crazy phone you got. I told you to go buy yourself another phone. Are you too stingy to get a new phone? You sound like you’re in a barrel. You busy? What are you doing?

I was eating lunch, but I can talk. Go ahead. Are you doing okay?

Well, no!… Not really…I’m 95-years-old….I've been going downhill for 20 years. Anyway, I want to talk to you about my funeral. This is your cousin, Caroline.

I know who you are. I just called you Caroline. Don’t you remember? Anyway I'm not the one you need to talk to about your funeral. You need to talk to your daughter, Christine.  

Oh, I can’t talk to her. She comes over here and gives me my medicine, and she's gone before I can turn around. She don’t stay around long enough to talk. Besides, her and that man of hers said they were going to be cremated. I don’t want them putting me near no fire. You know how I sweat when I get hot.

Caroline, we don’t need to talk about your funeral. You aren’t sick. You’ll probably outlive me. I can't plan your funeral. That’s up to Christine.

She won’t listen to me. You've got to come over here, and tell her what I want, and see to it that she does it.  She’ll listen to you. I want to be taken back to Mississippi and buried next to Grandma.

Why don’t you want to be buried by your husband in Texas?

No! No! I don’t want to be by him. We wasn’t getting along that good when he died. He didn’t like it when I put him in a nursing home. Back in 1953, he cheated on me. You didn’t know that, did you?

Yes, I remember. You’ve told me at least 20 times. Okay, I’ll tell Christine that you want to be buried by Grandma.

Well, that not all. I want to be on her right side, facing away from her. I never could sleep on that other side….And I don’t want no flowers, especially them mums. I’m allergic to mums.…And see if you can get that girl, Vera, to fix my hair. Tell her not to put no spray net on it. That stuff makes me sneeze.

Okay, I’ll try to remember all that. Now can we talk about something else?

No, I’m not through, and what’s that noise you’re making? Are you eating something?

I told you I was eating lunch. You heard my chip bag rattle.

Beth, this is important. Put that food away, and listen to me. I need to tell you what I want to wear.

Caroline, you told me all that the last time we planned your funeral. You said you wanted that navy blue suit and white blouse.

Well, I’ve changed my mind. I want the pink dress I bought for Geneva’s wedding. I got to thinking about it, and that blue suit is made out of heavy material. I think it’s going to be too hot for me to wear that.


Author Notes Caroline and Beth don't always use perfect grammar on the phoned. Please note when suggesting corrections.

Chapter 2
Dying on the Floor

By BethShelby


Hello?  Who is this?  I want to speak to Beth.

This is Beth, Caroline, who else do you think would be answering my phone? I’m the only one who lives here. You call me two or three times a day. Why is it you can’t you ever recognize my voice?

It’s that cheap phone you got. I keep telling you to spend some of that money, and go out and get yourself a decent phone. Anyway, this is your cousin, Caroline.

Yes, I know Caroline. Is everything okay?

Well no, everything is not okay. I’m ninety-five-years-old. Everything aches, and I can’t get my daughter to stay around here long enough for me to tell her everything that’s wrong.

That is why you’ve got care-givers over there every day. Talk to them. You know she is just across the driveway if you really need her.

Yeah, well them care-givers is another story!  They keep sending me new ones over here that don’t know their butt from a hole in the ground. You got to tell `em everything, I think I ran another one off today. She said I was being mean to her, and she wasn’t coming back. I said `Good riddance!’

Caroline, Is there a reason you called? I just walked in from the grocery store, and I have some frozen stuff I need to put away. I can call you back.

No, this is important. It can’t wait. I been thinking about it, and I want you to get you one them things you hang around your neck, in case you fall. It'll call and get help for you.

I don’t need one of those things. If I fall, I’ll get back up. I’ve got telephones in every room. If I need help, I’ll call someone.

No, you listen to me! I’m older than you, and that means I’m smarter than you. You live by yourself. When you fall, you’re liable to break something. You won’t be able to get back up.

Caroline, don’t you have enough to worry about without worrying about me? If I can't get to the phone, I’ll yell at my Alexis to call 911. I’ve got one of those gadgets in every room, too.

Now, Beth that’s your problem. You think that woman’s going to help you? She don’t care nothing about you. You don’t need to be talking to that woman. You need to get rid of that thing and get you one them things like I got that goes around your neck.

Caroline, I'd get that string hung up on something, and I’d probably hang myself. I'd be setting it off all the time, and the first time I set it off I’d end up pitching it in the trash.

Now Beth, you'd better listen to me. You're going to fall on the floor and die if you don't get one. Mine saved my life.

No, it didn’t save your life. You just ran your wheelchair into the corner and couldn’t figure out how to back it up. If you're so worried about dying, you need to get that vaccine. You got strangers coming in your house all the time, and you’re going to end up getting that virus. They could have it and not even know it.

I've done told you, I’m not taking that vaccine. It’s got something in it that might change my DNA, and turn me into a man. If you’re going to start on me again about getting that vaccine, I’m going hang up. And don’t you go telling people I didn’t warn you, if you die on the floor. 



Author Notes I'm calling this fiction, but it is very much like the phone call between my cousin and I yesterday. I've featured Caroline in a dialogue only story before.

Chapter 3
Mad Enough To Bite Nails

By BethShelby


Is this you?

Yes, Caroline I’m here.

Well, I hope this is you, because the last two numbers I dialed wasn’t you. I’m so angry, I’m spitting nails. They got me so mad I couldn’t remember your number, and I had to go look it up. This is your cousin, Caroline.

Yes, we’ve established that. What’s going on?  Who are you angry with?

First let me ask you, what are you doing?

Well, I was writing, but I can stop and talk to you.  What’s going on?

I guess you’re writing that book of yours. I’m glad you're having fun doing something you like to do.  You better not be putting anything in that book about me.

It’s not about you.  Now, tell me, who are you mad with?

I’m mad with my mother. She makes me so mad, I want to spit in her face.

Caroline, you’re ninety-five years old. Your Mother's been dead thirty years. You mean Cindy? She is your daughter, not your mother.

Well, you know who I’m talking about. She acts like my mother. She's always telling me what I can and can’t do.

What has Cindy done to get you all riled up?

She took her side over mine. Her own Mother. Can you believe it. That woman told her some stuff, and she thinks it’s my fault. How would you feel if your daughter did that to you?

Okay, start over.  Whose side did she take? What woman?

You know what woman. One of them women they send over here that’s supposed to be helping me.

Are you talking about the new one you told me that you liked?  The one you said was a hard worker?’

Yeah, that woman. I thought she was gonna be okay to begin with, but today she kept that phone thing on her shoulder the whole time she was here.  I don’t know who she was talking to, but it wasn’t me.

She wasn’t doing her job?

I told her I wasn’t paying her to talk on the phone, and she started telling me all the work she had done for me. She got mad and asked if I wanted her to leave. I saw her eyes flashing evil. I told her the old devil was in this room. I told her we needed to pray.

What did she say when you told her that?

She looked at me like she thought I was crazy. I said a prayer, but I didn’t pray for her. I told Mama to tell her not to come back, and she said I’ve got to quit running everyone off.

You do need help, you know. I think they are running out of people willing to work for you.

Cindy’s afraid if they don’t come, she might have to spend some time over here helping me. She said I need to be kind to the people who work here. Took their side over mine, she did. My own mama, or daughter or whatever she is.

Cindy is seventy-five, herself. She’s probably not able to be over there all day. She has a husband to take care of. You need to try to control your temper. You know you do sound kind of mean when you get so aggravated.

Now, you’ve done it. I called you to help me calm down, before I have a stroke, and here you go blaming me too. To heck with all of you. I thought you was somebody I could count on.

Yeah, I heard you slam the phone down. If you don't quit hanging up on people, you're going to find yourself with nobody to listen to you rant, old lady.

Chapter 4
Just Keep Your Towel Handy!

By BethShelby

My 93-year-old cousin just called from the Alzheimer’s unit of her nursing home to tell me the nurses have lost the keys to the ladies showers. She says all the old men are on the prowl. I don’t know what she expected me to do about it from three hours away, unless she figured I might want to rush right over.

I doubt there are locks on the showers. She hung up on me when I suggested some bored aide might have started a rumor to put some excitement into another boring day. Fact is more entertaining than fiction

Author Notes My Word counter say exactly 100 words. Laughter might be in poor taste but sometimes it better than crying. There is a enough fiction here to qualify it.

Chapter 5
Latest Phone Call from Caroline

By BethShelby


Let me speak to Beth.

Caroline, you know it’s me.

Well, stop disguising your voice!

What’s on your mind?  You doing ok?

No!. I’m about to be 97. How could I be ok?

Age is just a number. You sound strong. I sent a card with some money for your Birthday.

Well, I didn’t get it. I don’t need no card. Did I tell you my daughter put me in this zoo with all these old people?

She thought you’d be happier in a home with folks your age. Have you made any friends?

You can’t make friends with these people. There’s this old man, I thought wanted to be friends, but I was wrong. I had to chase him out with my cane.

That wasn’t nice. Why'd you do that?

He thought my room was the toilet. He was about to do his business in my garbage can.

Author Notes 150 wd ct. Flash

Chapter 6
The Death Contraption

By BethShelby

Ringgg….Incoming Call


Hello, I was trying to call Beth.  Do I have the right number?

Caroline! You've got me.  Can’t you tell it’s me?

Well, who was that who answered the phone?  You got company?

No, I was the one who answered the phone. I’m the only one who lives here. I’m all by myself.

I know I heard another voice. What are you doing? Who else is there?

You may have heard the TV. I turned it off. I was about to have lunch.

Well, your lunch is going to have wait. I’ve already had mine. Why don’t you eat when everyone eats? I need to talk.

Ok, It can wait. How are you doing?

How do think I’m doing? I’m old. I’m ninety-five. Don’t nobody seem to realize I’m old. I’m too old to be shuffled around like this. That’s what I want to talk to you about. What’s the name of that day that’s coming up where everybody eats?

You mean Thanksgiving?

Yeah! I think that's the one. You know they put me over here in this place with all these other old people. My mother says she can’t take care of me anymore. I’m not going to get to have a Thanksgiving this year, and my mother’s mad at me.

She's not your mother, Caroline. She’s your daughter. She's up in her seventies herself. She thought you’d be happier with people your own age. They're paying people to take care of you. Why do think she's mad with you?

She wanted me to go over to her house on that eating day, and I told her I’m not going to go. They put in this death contraption in their house, and they claim they put it in there for me. They made me go over there to try it out, and I thought I was going to die for sure. I was lucky to survive. I’m not going back.

What are you talking about? What does it look like?

It’s this bucket thing. It’s down in their garage. They put it on the side of their steps. You've got to sit in it and get buckled up. It goes up the steps all the way to the top; to the main floor. I had to close my eyes. I just knew I wasn't gonna’ survive. I could have got hurt bad. That thing could kill you

Oh, that’s just a chair lift. They aren’t dangerous. You said you were buckled in. You can’t fall out. You aren't able to climb the stairs. How else would you get to their dining room? If those things were dangerous, they wouldn’t be on the market.

No, It’s a death trap for sure. I’m not getting in that thing again. It goes up real slow and you have to turn around at the top before you can get up. Mama can get mad with me if she wants to,  but she needs to figure out another way so I can eat. I’m too old to be jerked around this way.

Maybe, you three could go out to a restaurant, and she wouldn't have to cook.

No, we're not doing that again.  We did that last year, and it took them a whole hour to bring us something to eat. You can forget that. 

Well, you are old enough to make up your own mind. If you don’t want to ride up on the chair lift and have a nice dinner with your daughter and son-in-law, tell her to bring you a plate, or else eat your Thanksgiving meal at the center. I’m sure they will be making a nice special meal for those residents who have no other place to go.

A lot of good it did me to call you. I thought for sure you’d be able to figure out something better. Go eat your dinner. You're no help.

Author Notes Based on phone calls from my cousin.

Chapter 7
Who's My Mama?

By BethShelby


Hello….  Beth?  Have I finally got you?  Don’t you ever look at that thing that takes messages?  Is this Beth? It doesn’t sound like you. Are you eating again?
Yes, you got me. Caroline, I tried to call you back, four times.  I can’t leave a message, because you don’t have an answering machine. You weren’t in your room, and no, I’m not eating. 

Well, you usually are. I need you to help me get some stuff straight. I guess I’m losing my mind. That’s what that case worker, or counselor, or whatever she is, seems to think. She keeps asking me all these questions about my family. I think she wants to put me in with the crazy people. They have a different unit for that.'

You mean the Alzheimer’s Unit. What is she asking you?

She wants to know why I keep calling my daughter, my mama. She says my mother’s dead. She wants to know when I started doing that.

You’ve been doing it for at least five years. Maybe more. I used to ask you that too, but I know who you’re talking about. I think I understand why you call her Mama.
Well, I wish you’d tell me. She always answered, when I called her Mama.

I think it's because when you were little your mother used to wait on you and do everything for you, and when you went to live with your daughter, she started waiting on you and doing everything for you.

Then, you need to talk to that woman and tell her that. She thinks I’m crazy.

Oh, Caroline, You’re not crazy. You’re just getting a little mixed up, sometimes. We all get mixed up when we get older. I think you may be having a bad day. 

She was asking all kind of questions about the rest of my family, and she’s the one that got me all mixed up.

What did you do with that list I sent you. I wrote down everybody's name in the family and how they are related to you, so you can get them straight, in case you forgot.

I think somebody stole that list. You can’t keep nothing around this place. Everything disappears.

You do remember your daughter’s name is Christine, right?

Well, there are two Christines. That woman who comes over when I call her, and brings me things I need is named Christine. I think the other Christine is my mother. That woman said she is dead.

No, your mother’s name was Elaine. She is the one who is dead. There isn’t but one Christine. Christine is your daughter, and she's one you call to bring you the things you need.

That woman who comes over here, doesn’t look like my daughter. She looks more like my mother.
Your daughter, Christine is 72. I think she looks really good for her age. She is probably upset because you have forgotten she is your daughter.  I think you are having a bad day. It is probably because the weather is overcast with high humidity. Do you know who I am?

Of course, I know who you are. You’re my first cousin, Beth. Why would you ask me if I know who you are? I can’t be expected to remember everything, but I’m not stupid. You call that woman for me, and straighten her out on who everybody is. She is the one who is all mixed up.

Oh Listen, I heard that sound. Somebody is trying to hear our phone call. I’m going to have to hang up. If that Christine woman comes back, I’ll tell her to call you, and you can explain to her who she is. You call me sometimes. I'm tired of having to do all the calling.  

Author Notes This is close to true, with name changes. My cousin has been diagnosed with some dementia. Some days she has more trouble than others. I know it is sad, but at times, I'd rather laugh than cry. I'm her favorite person to talk too. Christine is her daughter, but she has trouble getting that straight.

Chapter 8
Bored and Needing to Talk

By BethShelby



Is this Beth?

Yes, it’s me … How are you, Caroline?

Well, I’m not so good.  I’m bored. What are you doing?

I just walked into the house. I was about to sit down and eat the sandwich I bought.

You’re eating every time I call. Do you eat all the time?

Usually, I’m just getting ready to eat. It is because you always call at mealtime.

Well, like I said, I’m bored. I need to talk to somebody. There is nothing to do around here.

Did you finish reading the book I wrote and sent to you?  Last time we talked, you said you were on chapter 17.

No, I put that thing away. I was scared of how it was going to end.

Why? It’s the story of my life. How did you think it was going to end? My life isn’t over yet.

No telling what you were going to make up. I figured it was all going to end up being a dream. Nobody could have that much bad luck. You’ve got to be making that stuff up.

I didn’t make any of it up, and besides, it wasn’t all that bad. I think I've had a pretty good life.

In the first place, How can you remember all that stuff? You’re supposed to let things go after they happen, like I do. Tell me about the cat you got.  Is she doing anything cute?

The other night, she got her claw inside one of my nostrils and made my nose bleed.

Beth! You get rid of that cat, right now. That cat is planning to kill you. She is trying to tell you something. Do you hear me? I’m not joking. You’ve got to get rid of her. I mean it. Cats aren't supposed to get up your nose.

I’m not getting rid of my kitten. She didn’t mean to scratch me. She was just playing. I knew I shouldn’t have told you that. Let’s talk about something else. I found out something about that caul or veil you were born with. There was a lot of information about that on the internet.

I was born with what?  What are you talking about? I haven’t ever worn a veil.

Caroline, you told me about it, yourself. You’ve forgotten. Everybody knew about it. I’ve heard that story all my life. It was very rare, so people talked about it. My mother was there when you were born. It was a little scary because you looked purple, but it is a good sign. It is supposed to be lucky.

Well, I don't remember that. You say it's good thing? Is that how come I'm still here at 94? I always knew there was something special about me.

What I read said people who are born with a caul or veil are supposed to be psychic.

Oh, that is why I know more than other people. It must be why I see angels and things. I've got to go tell the other ladies about this. They’ll have to listen to me, because I know things.

Listen, I just heard a noise. Someone is trying to hear my phone call.  I’d better go, so I can tell everybody here about my veil. I've got something to talk about now.

Bye Caroline. Call me again when you need to talk.


Author Notes Caroline is my real cousin, but the name is changed. She is in in Assisted Living. She may have slight dementia, but she is pretty alert most of time, and at 94 she feels free to say whatever is on her mind. She always makes me laugh. I care about her, and I am always available when she wants to talk. Being born with a caul is rare, like one baby in 88,000. You can read about it on Google.

One of thousands of stories, poems and books available online at

You've read it - now go back to to comment on each chapter and show your thanks to the author!

© Copyright 2015 BethShelby All rights reserved.
BethShelby has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.

© 2015, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Privacy Statement