Friday, June 7, 2013

Call Me MAYbe Flash Fiction #25: Long Distance by AJ Joseph

Welcome to the Call Me MAYbe Flash Fiction Challenge!!

All stories begin with "The phone rang" and are no more than 1,000 words. **CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!** For full contest rules and prize list, visit this link:

#25: Long Distance 


AJ Joseph

The phone rang while I was sitting outside on Rafaella’s patio. It was another balmy morning. It was only 9am but the backs of my sweaty thighs were already adhered to the plastic patio chair. I had my head tilted back; my eyes closed as I let the warm breeze play with my messy, unwashed hair. My hands gripped the chair handles as I silently chanted Dontcrydontcrydontcry. A rebel tear escaped my left eye, flowed down my cheeks and veered to my lips. Bitter salt.

I’d slid the shutter screen shut but left the outer glass sliding door slightly ajar. I usually closed both. That morning as I stumbled out after a long, sleepless, troubled night, I’d forgotten my routine.  

I let the shrill ring continue for a little while longer and when I couldn’t resist its siren song, I got up.  My hand was on the sliding door when it stopped ringing. I was relieved and disappointed in equal measure.

I sat myself back down on the chair I’d vacated only minutes before and continued to stare at nothing.

My thoughts went to my phone - its beige shell with the faded grey buttons; the white numbers barely discernible, which was in this place before I was. I remember Rafaella telling me that her previous tenant, someone she referred to as the disgusting, messy fellow who always had dirty dishes in the sink, had gotten the phone from the telecommunication company when he applied for a new phone line.

When I first moved in and saw the phone, He was the first person I called. I remember how tentative He was when he answered His phone, seeing a number He didn’t recognise. Once He learnt it was me, our conversation filled with I miss yous and I love yous. I giggled euphorically when I hung up. I loved that phone.

For the next 15 months, the phone and I were near inseparable. 

We took turns calling one another, once a week and always on my Friday nights which were His Saturday mornings.

My friends at university were well aware of this schedule and after the first few times, they’d stop asking me to join them on Friday nights. They were all too familiar by then with my refrain of “I’m sorry, I can’t.” whenever they asked if I would join them for a night out.

I remember nights on my bed with the phone cradled between my ear and shoulder as we spoke of future plans.  We wanted a short engagement. A small wedding. Somewhere in the city. Probably the botanical gardens.

It wasn’t all flowers and rainbows. Relationship by phone was frustrating. We fought, which couple hadn’t?

The 2-inch crack on the right side of the phone was from when we fought about His penchant for going out clubbing and telling me that He had to resist Himself from going home with one of the girls, who was just a colleague, He danced with that night. I remember telling Him that I appreciated His honesty but it really hurt me. He suggested I get over it because in the end He didn’t. I slammed the phone down and heard the crack.

Immediately after, I went into the walk-in closet, switched on the overhead light and cried till I slept, hugging myself from the cold. The phone didn’t ring the whole night. I hated it, that contraption of torture.

The next morning though, it did.

He had had a sleepless night too but didn’t call back immediately because He wanted to give me my space. He said that He loved me and He was a jerk for being insensitive. I remember holding back my responses, trying to hold all the cards but when He started crying, I broke. I told Him I loved Him back but it was getting more difficult. 

Cryptically, He said He knew.   

I loved the phone again.

But it was a short-lived romance.

It was a Thursday. Several weeks after the phone-cracking incident, which we affectionately called it. I’d just received news that my supervisor had passed my thesis describing it as timely and informative. I couldn’t wait till Friday to call Him.

His mobile phone rang for several minutes. I tried to remember if He had classes that day and calculated the time it was for Him.  My Thursday morning, His Wednesday night. I was ready to hang up and call again when I heard the familiar click of the phone being picked up. I immediately launched into my news before He said hello. When I was done, I remember asking Him “Say something!”

“Who is this?” asked the person who picked up. A female person.

I froze.

The world around me froze.

My future disappeared.

I stared at the phone I held in my hands not believing what I thought was happening.
I heard the rustle of sheets and a voice in the background commanded sleepily with a hint of urgency “Babe, don’t!”

In all that happened, I was stuck on Babe. Strange. He’d never called me Babe. He called me Dear or sometimes, when He’s being especially affectionate, Love.

Babe? Never.

Before I embarrassed myself by shouting profanities at the person on the other end of the line, I slammed the phone down. This time, there was a hairline crack on the inner side of the receiver.  
Right that very second, I hated the phone. Loathed it. Detested it.

Now it was morning.

And the phone rang again.

It was Him. I knew it. He would placate me and apologise and tell me that He would never do it again. That it was a momentary lapse. He’d say He loved me and only me.
Dontcrydontcrydontcry I remind myself as I watched the squirrel scamper in the trees, luxuriating in the day.

I let the phone continue to ring.


AJ is a bookaholic, semi-insomniac, unsuccessful recovering java-holic and most importantly, an aspiring writer. She's been in and out of writing almost all her life, trying to fit it in between work and travels. She's recently decided to give writing her all and is in the process of re-structuring her life around her first love - words. She blogs at  


  1. Wow -- not sure what else to say about this well-written, intense, kept me on the edge of my seat story, AJ -- the story holds the threads tight so that a song is played across the strands -- wonderful!
    - judy

    1. Hi Judy,
      Thank you for reading my story! Glad that you enjoyed it! :)

  2. Loved this, AJ, and such a fitting story for the age we live in. With so much interaction in just chat format (typing), the scoundrel gets caught in wrong-window posts.

    Really great job with this story.

    1. Hi Leona -
      Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I wanted to showcase how we are reliant on devices like the phone or the internet in our relationships. And actually, these devices are poor substitutes, indeed. Appreciate your comments!

  3. Excellent tension, great use of the phone as another important presence in the tale, too. Lotsa like on this one, AJ.

  4. Very nice tension! Loved the third character...the phone. Effective--definitely so!

  5. Excellent tension, great use of the phone as another important presence in the tale, too. Lotsa like on this one, AJ.

    1. Hi Cynthia - thanks for the feedback! I quite like this piece as well :) and am so happy to be able to share it here.

  6. My all time favourite piece by you. Absolutely loved it even though it made me tear :(

    1. Thanks M :) It's slowly becoming one of my favourites too though I'm resisting it cos you know, it's sort of grounded in reality


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