Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dialogue Exercise (Fiction)


The phone rang in three short tones. She looked away from the computer screen, which had turn into a white aura in her spacey eyes. Laura was paging her. She picked up the receiver.
                “Hello?”
                “Patricia is on the phone for you.”
                “Oh God. What does she want?” She placed her elbows on the desk and slouched.
                “She wants you.”
                “Tell her I died and it was very sad.”
                “Very funny. You should turn off that space heater. You look awfully pink today. Good luck.” She scooted her rolling chair closer and looked around. It was a slow time of the day. No one was loitering at the front, trying to get reception on their phones. No one needed a key from her or her to un-jam the copy machine. No clumsy and bumpy-head child needed ice. She touched her cheek, and her hand felt cool. Not surprisingly, she was warm.
                She clicked over to line one.
                “Willow Falls Elementary School.”
                “Hi, it’s Patricia” She looked down at her chest. A sprawl of rosy rash.
                “Hi Patricia, what’s going on today?”
                “I just wanted to know if I should bring Sampson in tomorrow. He hasn’t had a fever since this morning, and everything. I thought he was getting the flu cause he was complaining a lot, and I had the flu last week but now he seems to be okay and everything.” She moved to her computer and opened a file on the desktop named Patricia Call Log and began to type: October 4th10:45 am…
                “If he doesn’t run a fever again today or tonight, I would bring him in.”
                “Okay well I was just checking cause I wasn’t sure. So that’s why I called. Did you get my message?”
                “Yes, I did, thank you for calling Sampson in this morning” She was a lousy transcriber. She pinched the phone between her ear and her shoulder, and the words she ticked out were a mess of pushy constants: but bnow he sefms ok andeverthig…
                “I wasn’t sure if I should wait for you to get in or what so I thought I’d just leave a message. Uh if you could make sure Sampson brings his jacket home tomorrow too, I would greatly appreciate that and everything.”
                “Sure thing”
                “Cause it’s fall now and I’m not sure exactly when he’s gonna need that…”
                Laura must have seen she was off the line, and paged her again. Now she was staring at the email she had gotten late last night: I’m sorry, but I can’t stop thinking about you that night, quiet and sure, and your hair falling apart as you moved… She let the phone ring just one more time, then picked it up without looking away from the screen.
                “Hey.”
                “Did you put that in your log?”
                “I’m a diligent secretary.” She closed the email and looked up at the expectant and guilty looking child approaching, surely for a late pass.
                “What are you going to do with that anyway?”
                “It’s the preface to my suicide note.” She said it just before the boy entered earshot and mouthed I’m late.
                “I’m leaving this world… and everything...?”
                “Exactly,” she smiled sweetly at the thin boy and wrote out the slip. They get enough admonishment from their teachers, and she made it a point to forgive him.
                “Hey, did you ever hear from No Show Joe?” The boy slinked off.
                “What do you think?”
                “You really chased him away.”
                “He deserved it.”
                “Yes, yes he did. Oh, Amy’s here. Bye.” She hung up the receiver and put her face in her hands. Still warm. She picked up her pen and clicked the button in and out on her teeth. She felt his hands on her head, on her arms, and then slammed her own hands down to shake them off. She sighed and sat up straight and returned to her computer, circling the mouse over the litany of duller emails and tried not to compose her response.



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