The phone rang and she looked at the caller ID. It was her sister, and since she called so rarely, Cheryl decided this time to answer it.
“Hey – “
She was cut off by a deep, guttural wailing on the other end of the line.
“What?! What happened?”
The wailing continued for just a moment, then Carla caught her breath. All she could say was “Steve…”
She didn’t need to go any further.
“No, no!” screamed Cheryl. “No! No!” She threw the phone across the room. She wasn’t going to let the tears come, because it wasn’t true. Whatever was on the other end of the line wasn’t true. Her brother was fine, there was nothing wrong. They were very close, and that closeness protected him from any harm. She decided that it was fact and picked up the phone. She pressed the red button and disconnected herself from the call.
By then Cheryl’s husband came into the room. “What? What happened?”
“Nothing.” Her laugh was like tin.
“Why were you yelling? And why did you throw your phone?”
She ignored the first question. “Oh, no, it just slipped.”
She could tell that he knew she was lying, but he slowly decided not to challenge her on it.
The phone rang again and he could see the picture of Carla, smiling and happy, come up on the screen. Cheryl sent the call to voice mail.
“Was that your sister?” he asked
“Oh, yeah,” she tried to sound casual, but came off as trying to sound casual. She didn’t care. “She just wanted to talk about something.”
“What was it?”
“Oh, nothing important.” She started to walk away, thereby ending the conversation.
He stared at her as she walked away, clearly trying to assess her emotional state. He didn’t believe her, and she let her feigned apathy fill the void of his unasked questions.
Moments later, his phone rang, and she knew without looking that it was Carla, hunting Cheryl down, determined to break through and deliver her heart wrenching news.