General Fiction posted October 22, 2016

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
A man gets a call from an irritating neighbour

Call again later

by oliver818

Don't Pick Up The Phone! Contest Winner 
'Don't pick up the phone.'

The phone hung briefly in the space between the table and my ear, my nose and eyes squished up in their best impression of a question mark. "It's too late now," I mouthed. The soft bang as my wife's hand hit her forehead suggested I would regret this.

"Smith's residence."

"Tom? Is that you, Tom?"

"Yes. Who's that?"

"It's Mrs Burges. How are you, Tom?"

"It's Mrs Burges," I whispered to my wife, hand over the receiver. The way her head sank suggested this was what she had been expecting.

"I'm fine thanks, Tom. Apart from the fact that my rheumatism is acting up. Possibly linked to my diabetes they say. It's like sitting on a thousand pins all at once."

"That sounds terrible."

"It is. And you know the doctor gave me some medicine, but there was some confusion at the pharmacy and I got the wrong one, and it actually made it worse. So now I'm sitting on ten thousand pins all at once."

"Her rheumatism is acting up," my lips told my wife. Her look expressed absolute indifference.

"And yesterday I accidentally sat on a pin cushion that had somehow fallen onto my favourite seat, so that makes ten thousand and twenty four pins."

"I'm sorry to hear that, Mrs Burges. Is there anything I can help you..."

"And the strangest thing happened yesterday. I fell asleep on my arm and when I woke up it was all numb. And then all of a sudden I got terrible pins and needles. I don't know how many, I lost count. But it's horrible, I feel like I'm living with a hedgehog who keeps rubbing against me, constantly filling me with needles."


"But enough about my rheumatism."

"She's changing subjects from rheumatism," I mouthed again, before realising my wife was no longer actually in the room.

"I've had terrible stomach pains recently. I asked the doctor and he said I might be pregnant. I said, "I'm eighty six years old." And he said, "So am I." We had a terrific laugh over that, I can assure you. I mean, he isn't even practising anymore. He's just a friend from bingo."

"Mrs Burges, are you sure you didn't want to talk to my wife?"

"Your wife? Now why on earth would I want to do that? I spoke to her this morning for an hour. Couldn't get away, I was almost late taking my medicine."

"What did you want then, Mrs Burges? Do you need help with something?"

"Help? No, I shouldn't think so. I'm not an invalid you know."

"Then, may I ask, why did you call me?"

"Why? Oh, I completely forgot. I did have a reason for calling you. Now what was it? Did I want to complain about the leaves falling over my side of the fence? No, I did that this morning. My diabetes maybe?"

"You can call back later if you forgot, Mrs Burges."

A red knife blade slipped around the corner followed by my wife's face, with a half sliced beetroot in one hand and a nasty glare in her eye.

"Oh, I remember now. I saw a man climbing up the back wall of your house. He's probably well inside your house somehere by now because this was a good five minutes ago, or maybe ten. Have we been talking for five minutes now, or ten, dear? Dear? Tom?"

Her croaky voice still echoed from the receiver as I ran upstairs. Clothes littered the floor, and the lid from my wife's jewellery box lay on the bed. Wires trailed out from the wall where my computer had been sitting. Looking out the window, I saw a masked man slamming a truck door, and a long length of fabric from what appeared to be my wife's favourite dress dangling down, almost touching the ground. The air outside filled with black smoke as the truck screamed off down the road.

Looking out the other window, a sharp movement caught my eye. Mrs Burges' black, gloved hand was waving at me. Her mouth moved, forming some kind of message. I mouthed one back, hoping she could read lips and decipher the nasty words I was sending her.

"Darling, call the police, we've been robbed."


"And after that, let's make a cake for Mrs Burges. One with extra generous quantities of sugar."

Writing Prompt
Write in any form (poetry, drama, short story, nonfiction, memoir, etc.) a piece that incorporates the phrase, "Don't pick up the phone." Be creative!

Don't Pick Up The Phone!
Contest Winner
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