Phone  

THE PHANTOM PHONE CALL

   

         

Bringing her lips close to the mouthpiece she repeated the telephone exchange, just the way she had heard Uncle Bill do it, then Effie listened.

     "Is that you dear? They told me I couldn't telephone, but I just did, didn't I?" a man's voice explained. With a rapturous smile Effie cried,

     "Hello Daddy! I'm here Daddy, can you hear me!" The voice on the phone was so faint that she could hardly make out the words. Finally there was a click and the receiver went dead. When Bill came back into the kitchen, Effie was still standing on the stool, both hands grasping the telephone receiver. His wife's face was pale and wrathful.

girl

     "That call was not from your father," Martha said in a quavering voice.

     "What did the caller say?" Bill asked, quietly.

     "He said someone told him he couldn't telephone," said Effie.

     "Effie, It couldn't have been your daddy. It was a wrong number, just a coincidence or someone playing a trick," said Bill, his eyes full of sympathy.

     "It was Daddy! I recognized his voice," Effie insisted. Martha was visibly shaken.

     "We do not receive telephone calls from the dead," she blurted out. Effie gaped at her.

     "It was daddy. I know his voice. I thought you understood Uncle Bill, but you're both the same you don't understand anything!" 

She turned and fled upstairs. Bill was about to follow her but Martha put a hand on his arm.

     "No William, let me go up to her. I've got to make peace with the child." Bill nodded.

     "I'll ring the operator and find out who called," he said.

     Martha shut the door and stood with her back to it, watching the motionless bundle under the blanket. She tried to speak in a coaxing voice but her words sounded stiff, even to her own ears.

     "You were right," she said, moving toward the bed. "I haven't been trying to understand." She sat gingerly on the edge of the bed. "I miss your daddy too. Jack was my brother, and he looked after me when I was a girl, just like he looked after you. You were very young when your mother died, there was only your father. Now we have to look after each other Effie. Do you think we could do that?" The child slowly came out from under the blanket, tears sparkled on the ends of her lashes. Climbing into Martha's lap, she felt her Aunt 's body stiffen against her and then relax. Martha slowly began smoothing Effie's hair. Bill paused in the doorway.  A look of surprise spread over his face.

"Did you find out who that caller was?" Martha asked, in a hushed voice; Effie was almost asleep."

"That call must have been due to some malfunction.  The operator said no one has used that line for the past three hours."