Monday July 7th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the wrong number.

Becky arrived safe and sound this afternoon, but not without a minor complication. She was supposed to send me a text when her bus was leaving Penticton so that I had an idea of when to expect her but I didn't get anything. Eventually I called the Greyhound station up there to see what time the bus had left, if it had left at all, and was told that it headed our way right on time.

So I went to the bus stop here in town without having heard from her, hoping there was just some sort of mix up. Forgot her phone, phone battery was dead, something like that.

Turns out? She wrote down the wrong number and had been texting somebody else the whole trip. I asked if she got any interesting replies but she said she never heard back.

In other news: Max left his teenage months behind today, as it has now been twenty months since he was born.



A moment of distraction, of not paying quite enough attention to what I was doing. That's all it took. If not for a brief loss of focus none of this would have ever happened.

Is that true? It must be. I find it difficult to comprehend though, that something so minor could lead to something so... life-altering.

What if I had written the number down more clearly? What if I had remembered hearing them in a different order and recognized my error before it was too late?

But I did not. So I parked my car at the curb and strolled confidently toward the front door, leaving the traitorous piece of paper in the glove box. I knocked with a firm hand, not too loud, not too softly. The flowers were tucked behind my back, safely out of sight and ready to be flourished at just the right time.

And then... surprise! You opened the door. Not at all who I was expecting.

But, perhaps, exactly who I needed.


Greg said...

Wow, that must have been mildly alarming for both of you since you were both expecting texts! I, obviously, wouldn't have been alarmed in Becky's place as I know how long it can take you to reply to anything :-P I'm glad you all managed to meet up anyway and successfully, thus proving that phones are not essential for these things in this day and age still :)
That's a great story, I really like the idea of knocking on the wrong house and finding something interesting there anyway. And the details that lead up to the punchline are delicately provided and nicely add to the depth of atmosphere.

Wrong number
The nurse turned the little blue handle on the tank and gas hissed. The plastic tubing that connected the tank to the aspirator -- the transparent plastic mask that sat over the patient's nose and mouth -- stiffened in response, and there was a soft fogging of the aspirator which cleared just a couple of seconds later.
The anaesthetist checked the dials, writing down the pressure values, and then nodded. The surgeon raised an eyebrow and prodded the patient.
The patient rolled over abruptly and fell off the table onto the floor. There was a crash, a slithering sound as the tubes to the gas tanks tightened, and then a pop as they came off. Gas hissed out into the air of the operating theatre, and the surgeon and anaesthetist retreated, watching as the nurse staggered towards them and then collapsed as well.
Outside the room, watching through an observation window, the surgeon turned to the anaesthetist.
"What was that? You realise that when the gas disperses I'll have to figure out if we can still do the surgery?"
"Probably have to check for broken bones, too," said the anaesthetist. "Well, I'd say we picked the wrong gas tank."
"You mean...?"
"Yes. Wrong number."

Anonymous said...

I gripped his hand, clinging onto it as though I was again out in the storm and his hand was the buoy that saved me from the rest of my people’s fate.
“Four seven one nine five.”
My stomach dropped and I felt a wave of nausea crash over me.
“No!” Geshna whispered beside me. His hand tightened around mine. There was nothing he could do and he knew it
“Will Four seven one nine five please step forward. You have been chosen by the Unseen.” The Caller’s tone had been short and sharp.
Before I could lose my courage all together, I brought Geshna’s hand to my lips and kissed it. “I’ll see you on the other side,” I whispered. Then I stepped out of line.
“You will get through this, Havarti!” Geshna called after me. “You survived the Reaping, you can survive this.”
His words only fueled my fears. He hadn’t been at the Reaping. He didn’t see what those beasts did to my people before they scattered what remained of us into the Dark Sea. I barely made it out of there. I wasn’t so sure luck would be with me this time.
The caller led me into the arena. I saw the different instruments on the table and I tried to make sense of them. How was I supposed to choose how to end a life? Should I go with the most humane? Or the one that would cause the quickest death?
“You have five minutes to choose, Four seven one nine five.”
Five minutes? Was that all a life meant to these people? I felt another wave of nausea sweep over me.

Aholiab said...

Wrong Number

I tease my co-workers that I am a neo-Luddite, eschewing the advantages of modern technology. I have neither a dishwasher nor a microwave in my home, so initially they believe me until they remember that I just finished fixing their computer, adjusted the settings on their new smart phone, and asked it they had seen the latest meme on twitter. They probably realize that I’m more procrastin-ite than Luddite.

It is nice to have a microwave in the office lunch room to warm my leftovers and occasionally pop some popcorn for my afternoon snack. When they installed a toaster oven as well, I decided to reheat some dinner rolls in it rather than microwaving them. The texture of microwaved bread leaves something to be desired.

Since I’m adept at multi-tasking, even at lunch time, I popped the rolls into the toaster oven, set it to warm them on high for 30 seconds, left to wash my hands, and buy myself a soft drink. I was interrupted by a co-worker who asked about the latest budget forecasts, so we went back to my office to review the numbers.

About twenty minutes later we heard a commotion in the hallway and realized that someone must have decided to overcook their popcorn in the microwave again. We wandered to the lunch area to see who had filled the building with smoke, and there were the charred remains of my dinner rolls.

Apparently someone has decided that the default measure of time for microwaves is seconds and for toaster ovens is minutes. I think I’m going to revert to my Luddite ways and just eat things cold.

Marc said...

Greg - har dee har har :P

Thank you for the kind words on mine. And the wrong number in your piece is significantly more serious than mine!

Ivybennet - I like that your take on the prompt came at things from a different angle.

Intriguing details definitely leave me wanting more as well!

Aholiab - I quite like the idea of being a procrastin-ite!

Great descriptions and details in yours as well. And... sometimes eating things cold is the best option :)