“The phone doesn’t ring” by Julia at her desk

Friday October 18, 2019
9:12am
5 minutes
Low Noon
Jim Ralston

When we took the phone of the hook we realized we liked it better just us three.
Bobbi cried less. I think it’s because she didn’t feel like we were going to
leave her to answer somebody else’s call. It should have always been this way
but when the phone rings, it’s another agonizing reminder that there isn’t
enough time in the day to keep up with everything being thrown at us. And
answering is sometimes the only thing we can control in a sea of chaos that
goes around buzzing whether we want it to or not.

And then it was quiet. Alistair finished his will and Bobbi napped in his
arms. We were afraid of this infinite reminder that one day we
would no longer hear his sound. How terrifying it is to think of your family
losing one member of its voice. Again, to things we can’t control no matter
how hard we tried.

The phone doesn’t ring now. We can connect it later if we want, but for today
while both Bobbi and Alistair are breathing, we don’t even think about what
we might have missed.

“Well I can’t.” By Julia on the 4 bus


Sunday February 12, 2017
3:23pm
5 minutes
Overheard on the 4 bus

Tommie was rocking her newborn baby in her arms and humming gently when the telephone rang. She stopped suddenly but decided to keep going so Alex wouldn’t wake up again. She didn’t seem to mind the noise but the motion, or lack there of, she’d definitely notice. Tommie hadn’t been expecting a call or any visitors. Nobody seemed to come around these days. People weren’t too interested in seeing her after she took off without telling anyone. They didn’t understand that she needed to be far away from it all when she delivered. They didn’t want to know why she couldn’t just ask for help. Alex yawned in her arms but stayed asleep. The telephone rang again.

“I’ll avoid her for a few weeks” by Julia on her couch


Saturday March 19, 2016
6:35pm
5 minutes
from a text

If I close my eyes I can almost hear perfect silence. The buzz of the fridge seems to disappear. The beeping of the trucks backing up outside my balcony are muted. I can get centred without going anywhere at all. I’ve been practicing getting zen and doing it under pressure as that’s the most necessary time. Sheila says that if I practice every single day, reaching for meditation every single time I have the urge to call her instead, I’ll really start to form a habit. I think Sheila has a point. You can’t reach zen when you’re trying to make plans to go mini-golfing, or asking someone about knitting. I think Sheila is doing the exact same thing every time she thinks of calling me. I imagine her sitting there on the floor 6 or 7 times a day if she’s being diligent about curbing the urge. I don’t remember the last time Sheila even called me so her approach must be working! If I can get to a point where I don’t even think about how little human contact I’ve had, I’ll call that a success.

“easy as a rag doll” by Julia on her couch


Sunday February 3, 2013
9:26pm
5 minutes
Not Wanted on the Voyage
Timothy Findley


It’s been 18 minutes and 34 seconds. And counting. And wasting. 19 minutes that I’ve been on hold. Do people even wait this long anymore? The terrible music is on loop, it’s blurry, and for the love of god, it’s starting to grow on me. I don’t feel like dancing yet, but for crying out loud, I think I’ve gone crazy cause I’m not too far off. Every time it stops, I think a real human being is going to join me on the phone and engage in this problem that I’ve been so desperately trying to resolve. I’ve been patient, oh have I. I put it on speaker phone. Best damn idea I’ve ever had. Hands free. Still able to peruse the interweb, which, I’ll have you know, is exciting when there’s the thrill of someone interrupting. Not like that. Just retail stores online, that’s all I’m saying. Wouldn’t mind checking out Macy’s. Wouldn’t mind telling my brother to let me spend some of his cash points on a new scarf or something. I even managed to do a load of laundry. Now that’s commitment! I wonder if people are just hanging out across the telephone wires with their co-workers, just sort of keeping me on the line cause they know I’ll wait. Hell, I haven’t hung up yet. I get worried that they’re over there playing Strip Poker or Gin Rummy or, you know, I think about Twister! Are they all twisted up, half naked and tangled, smoking cigars and just having the times of their lives while I sit here surfing online trying to keep myself from dancing to this horrible music? I suppose I could get the pasta water boiling. Emmet said he’d be home soon, but I bet not before I die of boredom.