Pure Slush

flash ... without the wank

Phone Call

<  Recovery Period

by Cezarija Abartis     Still Life with Batteries  >

Elizabeth did not expect the call from her husband. “Stan? Are you in Miami? What’s wrong?”

“I’m fine. My plane was delayed, so I’m sitting at the gate. Earlier, I was strolling around the music store, then Brookstone. Trying to distract myself from worrying about my mother. My god, the gadgets–why would you buy a tea infuser or a burglar alarm at the airport? You can find anything here.”

Elizabeth pulled aside the curtain of the dining room window. “Almost.” The grass was fully green now, dandelions going to seed. A group of girls in majorettes’ outfits walked by. One of them in a spangled top kicked at a can; two shoved at each other.

“What would my mother want? She doesn’t cook anymore. She doesn’t sew. She can’t garden anymore.”

“She likes her music,” Elizabeth offered. “Big band dance music.”

“That’s what I thought. I walked over to the bin of CDs. No Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra. It was all Pitbull and Pink.”


“We are so out of it, you and I.”

“We used to be far out, and now we’re just out of it.”

“Anyway, who do I see but Buddy Lippincott from high school. We both kept looking and finally recognized each other. I’ve talked about Buddy. Class president, wowed all the girls. He has a limp now. Car accident, and he has a prosthesis. ‘Good as new,’ he said.”

“I doubt it.”

“I agree. But he looked happy. I remember him playing baseball, once hitting the ball out of the park.” 

“He must’ve been good.” Elizabeth imagined Stan nodding deeply.

“That one time he was. We exchanged phone numbers. To have a drink if we should happen to be in the same city again.”

“It could happen.”

“Then they called for boarding his plane and he had to run. Well, he limped away fast. Behind me, there was yelling. I saw two teenagers fighting until security guys broke them up. Nobody hurt badly. Once, Buddy was in a fight with the school bully who said something nasty about his mother. I thought, right outside there are these huge planes landing and taking off, and in here there’s two kids fighting. We might as well be back in the caves. And in another city, three hours away my mother is lying in bed, dying. And people are walking around looking at their phones. There’s not an app for peace or grief or a lost leg.”

“Honey, soon you’ll be with your mother.”

“Yeah, I’ll see her soon.”

“You’re a good son.”

“Yeah, right.”

“You are, Stan. To drop everything and fly there.”

“My last visit.”

One majorette threw her baton at the other girl. “Maybe not. Maybe she’ll get better.”


“We need hope.”

“We need gadgets to fly us and to talk through, to light up the runway, to monitor our heartbeats.”

“That’s a kind of hope.”

“I hear my row being called.” He sighed. “I’ll let you know how she is.”

published 15 May 2013