Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Call Me MAYbe Flash Fiction Challenge #6: My Name's Leonard Davenport by Tom Britz



Welcome to the Call Me MAYbe Flash Fiction Challenge!!
All stories begin with "The phone rang" and are no more than 1,000 words. Deadline to submit is May 31. For full contest rules and prize list, visit this link: http://mystiparker.blogspot.com/2013/04/next-month-call-me-maybe-flash-fiction.html






#6: My Name's Leonard Davenport
by
Tom Britz

The phone rang. Jeremy was busy settling his mother comfortably in her favorite chair, he placed the remote within easy reach so that she could pass an afternoon watching her favorite shows on afternoon TV. Eleanor Wills was eighty-four and quite feeble. She had also put on fifty pounds in the nine years since Jeremy's father passed.

Jeremy answered the call on the fourth ring. “Hello?” The phone, a land-line, sat on a small stand in the kitchen area. It seldom rang.

Could I speak to Eleanor, please?” The voice was strong, but the reception seemed weak as if from a very long way away.

I'm afraid that she's unable to get up and come to the phone. I'm her son, can I take a message?”

I understand. My name's Leonard Davenport, a very old friend. I'll call back tomorrow at this time. Would it be possible that she sit near the phone at that time? I would really love to talk to her again. It has been so long! A lifetime.” The voice was fading by the end of the exchange. Jeremy Wills was left with a dead receiver, which he placed down.

Shaking his head in confusion, as he knew of no Leonard Davenport, he turned and returned to his mother.

"It would seem an old friend, a Leonard Davenport would like to talk to you tomorrow. I can sit you...are you alright, mother?"

Eleanor visibly paled and her hands shook as she said, "That can't be!”

That's what he said. He will call back tomorrow at this time.”

Eleanor Wills started shaking as if with palsy. “No! It can't be. This must be some joke.” Tears fell from her eyes.

It took the rest of that afternoon for Jeremy to calm his mother down. He sat with her but it was much later, over tea, that she told him that she knew a Leonard Davenport as a girl. Before Jeremy's father, Leonard was her first love. But he had died in a car accident in 1955.

The phone rang once more the next day. Jeremy, quite angry that someone would want to play games, answered it on the third ring. “Hello!”

Could I speak to Eleanor please?” It was the same voice, strong, yet oddly weak.

Listen, I don't know who you are, but this is some kind of sick joke. My mother told me about Leonard and there is no way...”

Jeremy!” His mother called from the living room. “Jeremy, let me handle this. Help me in there, please.” Jeremy could sense the determination in her voice. She still possessed a strong will. "I must know."

Eleanor's voice cracked as she said, “Hello?”

Jeremy watched her for a minute to determine if she was alright, then went to the sink to do up the breakfast dishes and to stay close.

This can't be! But your voice... Yes, of course I remember you! But the Leonard I knew is dead.”

Jeremy turned around, ready to take the phone, but Eleanor looked at him and shook her head, held up her hand with index finger extended, “Give me a minute, Please.”

Jeremy reluctantly walked back to the living room, giving his mother the illusion of privacy but determined to pay close attention.

Unbelievably the next thing he heard was laughter, and then, “I most definitely remember that, but how could you know? Leonard and I were alone when that happened and I certainly didn't tell anyone.”
 
Quiet.

Then more laughter.

Jeremy stormed into the kitchen ready to take the phone, but seeing his mother, he stopped. She had tears streaming down her face as she was shaking her head and giggling like a young girl. He hadn't seen her this happy in years.

After the phone call, Eleanor was vibrant, yet, reluctant to speak. She appeared to be deep in thought, looking off into the distance with a playful grin on her face. She seemed more alive and vital.

That night as he helped her to bed, she kissed him then said, “Jeremy, I loved your father very much. We spent forty-six years together. You have always been my joy. But before your father... there was Leonard. Who knows if he had lived what would have been. I don't know how or why, but, that call was Leonard. I want you to know that. Now, could you get my photo album down for me? The old brown one...yes, that one.”

Jeremy was in a daze following her instructions handing the album to her, he noticed that her hand was steady. She also had a determined look on her face.

As Jeremy turned to leave her, she said, “Good-bye, son. I love you!”

Jeremy shut her door and went to his room, deep in thought.

The next morning, Jeremy opened his mother's door, she was laying peacefully amid pictures on her bed. They were of someone that he had never seen before. In her hand was another.

"Mother." he said.

When she didn't rouse, he knew that she had gone to Leonard.

****

Tom is a writer living in south-east Michigan.  He is an avid baseball nut (Go Tigers!!) and an avid reader.  He reads across the literature pond, but has made science fiction his mainstay.  He also collects old-time science fiction both paperback and magazine format.  You don't want to help him move.

17 comments:

  1. Lovely story. Can envision the scene.

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  2. hilandmum/joyceMay 8, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    Hey, Tom. Love the finished product!

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  3. Thank you for your reply, maabraham.com.

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  4. Thank you, mum, for reading and your reply.

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  5. Hi Tom, sorry I missed this yesterday. It was a wonderful story. I half expected her to tell her son that Leonard was his father.

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could all leave this earthly realm with such peace?

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  6. Great story of love lost and found, Tom! This was just lovely...

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  7. Leona, thank you. I half wanted to put that in about Jeremy being his son, but it was kind of late in life to learn something like that. It is my belief that we can leave this earthly realm in peace, I try to instill my stories with the idea that death is not to be feared. It is just another phase of life.

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  8. Leila, those are kind words, indeed. I thank you for them.

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  9. Dear Tom, I totally missed this when it posted the first time. I am so sorry. What a brilliant job you did on the final version. I'm so impressed. I LOVE this story; it's definitely one that will stay with me. But that is true for so many of your stories. ♥ Congratulations!

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  10. I love the idea of a ghost being able to phone someone up to talk. Since we often do contact a friend by phone to invite them to join us, it makes SENSE in such a lovely way that I don't need to think about whether it might be possible in reality. Excellent job in getting me to suspend disbelief. Well done, Tom!

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  11. Von, thank you. At times those two little words mean so much and other times they barely scratch the surface of how you feel. This is one of those surface scratch moments.

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  12. Love your story, Tom. (Wish there was a way to like comments too - so many good ones here and many similar to aspects I would mention). It reminds me of one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, but yours has subtleties and explores this type of interaction from the vantage point of a relationship between mother and son. That adds a lot... how the son stays close enough to hear while still giving privacy. Also the emotion of discovery at the end. I could picture the rooms, mother on the phone crying and giggling at the same time, the change from frailty to vitality. Beautifully done, Tom. I'm so glad to have heard of this story's existence and the site to come and find it. Well done!

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  13. Rose, I'm glad that this story was able to convey that. It certainly helps to have a suspension of belief every now and again.

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  14. Leslie, thank you. I could almost copy and paste what I said to Von. Your opinion matters and I'm so glad that I was able to convey as much as I did.

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  15. Hi Tom,

    Your story will stay with me also. It's so real, yet . . . it's so real. It could happen, and how wonderful is that. I enjoyed reading it and was hooked from the get go. A beautiful love from yesteryear come to take her home.

    Janet

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