Writing Prompt: You talk on the phone with a relative who died years ago.
|This house feels stale and dusty. The light shining in through the thick curtains on the windows seems muted, making me feel as if I'm in a world separate and untouched by the outside. Everything is exactly as I remember it as a child and yet it's changed, removed from the world and forgotten. The receiver of an old rotary-dial telephone is gripped in my left hand and pressed tightly to my ear. It's a black phone -nothing fancy- just the kind I remember she always had in this house when I was small and she was still here.
I hear a ringing in the earpiece -it sounds so far away. My hearts pounds in my chest. It seems that all sound has ceased except for the distant ringing and the pounding of my heart trying to leave my body. I can't breathe. Time stops and I'm suspended, and then suddenly there's a click and I hear her voice.
Silent tears roll down my cheeks and in a shaky whisper I hear my mouth speak the word, "Nana?"
Silence, but only for a moment, and then "Hello, baby."
I close my eyes tightly, oblivious to the tears as a sob wracks my body. It's been so long, so long since I've heard her kind voice. Behind closed eyes I can see the small grave marker that we put up to honor her when I was no more than five. I can remember being at the funeral home crying, clinging to my mother as she picked me up and whispered through her own tears that "it's ok to cry over nana being gone, we can just be big crybabies together." I remember with stinging clarity how lost I felt when she died. And yet she was there, on the phone, waiting patiently for me to speak.
"I miss you, nana."
I can almost feel her smile through the phone. I can picture her curly white hair and the way she would look at my sister and I like she would give us anything. "I know you do, baby. It's ok though, because I'm still in your heart."
More silent tears roll down my cheeks as I halfway smile, "I know, nana."
I don't know what to say, what to do. I'm terrified of ruining this moment, it feels fragile and needs to be handled with care. All I want to do is grip the receiver as tightly as I can and hear her breathe, know that she's really there. She was always my security blanket and I want to hold on to her for as long as I can.
I fight with myself on what to say to her. Going over all the times I had imagined this moment and all the things I wanted to know, wanted to share, it was almost too much. I want to tell her that I've made mistakes, that sometimes my heart breaks because I worry that she will be ashamed of me. I want to tell her that I'm trying, I want to make her proud, but sometimes I get in my own way. I worry about if she's seen the things I've done, the person I've been before. I hope that she sees the person inside, the one in my heart that I really try to be. I hope she knows that deep down inside, I just want to do the right things.
It seems like hours have passed but I blink and I realize it's only been a few moments. I know I can't see her, but somehow I know she's still there. And I know she'll wait for as long as I need her to.
I close my eyes and swallow the lump in my throat, wiping away at my face as I say into the phone, "Nana, there's something I need to tell you."
"What is it, baby?"
More tears and a moment of silence before, "I love you, nana. I wanted you to know."
I can feel her on the other side. It sounds unreal, but I can. And I know without any doubt that she understands everything that I'm trying to say to her in that simple statement.
My heart lightens and I can feel the warmth of her smile coming through the phone and wrapping around me like loving arms. "I love you too baby, and I always will."