Monday 8 October 2012

1 Missed Call

You have

1 Missed call from PAUL

1 New Voicemail

Diane looked at her phone for a long time before dialling the voicemail.

You have one new voicemail. Press 1 to –

She pressed 1.

“Hi babe. I’m stuck in traffic. I’ll try and make it up on the way, but hold off on dinner for a bit, will you?”

Press 1 to hear the message again. Press 2 to save it. Press 3 to delete it.

She paused, and then hesitantly pressed the 2 button before finally sorrow and relief overtook her and she burst into tears.

The hospital had called her on the landline, and she hadn’t seen the missed call until after they confirmed Paul’s death. The car had been hit by a truck less than a mile away from the house.

Her first thought, even though it sickened her in a way, was that she was free.

Free from the last fifteen years of marriage. Free from the manipulation. Free from the verbal abuse. Free from the disparaging remarks about her appearance. Free from the violence that he subjected her to every time he got drunk, and free from the inadequate apologies the next day.

She supposed she’d loved him but that feeling had been overtaken by fear a long time ago.

She went through the motions of a funeral, and the proper show of the bereaved wife and then moved to a new job and new life.

One night, she called up her voicemail. She decided to hear his voice one last time before deleting it forever.

You have one saved message. Press 1 to –

She pressed 1.

“Babe? Babe, I don’t know what’s going on. It hurts so much. I keep saying hello to you, but you don’t respond. What’s going on, baby? We can work this out.”

She deleted the message with a hand that hadn’t been shaking a minute before.

She didn’t sleep that night.

A week later, she checked her phone again. She must have been dreaming.

You have one saved message. Pre –

“Why aren’t you answering me, Diane? I said sorry last time. I meant it. Why aren’t you answering? Baby?”

She deleted it and threw the phone down.

The messages didn’t stop. He was always confused and always slightly scared. They came through about once a week at most, and once a month at least.

She changed phones, but they kept turning up. Changed numbers, to no avail.

Eventually, she met Mark. A nice man, this time. A quiet one. He respected her. Loved her.

The messages changed.

“Who the fuck is he, Diane? I saw you with him. Saw you. I will beat you until you can’t fucking walk.”

She stopped owning a phone then. Moved in with him. It worked.

Until he was hit by a car.

She was given his belongings by the hospital. Including his phone.

She looked at the screen.

You have

1 missed call from PAUL

1 new voicemail.


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  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this. A complete story for 500 words. My favourite part is the 2nd message starting "Babe? Babe ....." The turning point that grabbed me (along with every other reader, I should imagine). The end is great (I know it's so different, but I kept thinking of Jack Nicholson in 'The Shining'). Thank you for posting '1 Missed Call'. I hope it wins the competition. :)