‘Rrriiing, rrrriiing, rrrrriiiiiing!!’
That persistent, shrill tone of the phone really irritated me. I was doing my best to ignore it. It just would not stop. For some reason it seemed to be ringing longer than normal today. For the umpteenth time.
Why won’t they leave me alone, I muttered crossly as I walked deliberately slowly towards it, willing it to stop. But no, it was still ringing when I reached it. Reluctantly I picked up the handle expecting the tell tale voice of a telemarketer. That’s the kind of calls I usually got on the landline, especially this time of the day.
Will you just stop bothering me!! I yelled in the most unwelcoming voice I could summons.
Is that you Susan, a tearful voice asked at the other end.
My heart lurched in my chest. It was my so called best friend. I hadn’t heard from her in ages. In fact, it had been so long I’d decided she had abandoned me. Selfishly I had relegated her to the pile of ‘used to be best friends’ and tried to forget about her. That would serve her right, I’d thought, not bothering to get in touch with her myself. After all, our friendship had always been based on her getting in touch with me first, not the other way around. I couldn’t just go ahead and change the time honoured traditions of this particularly complicated friendship! We’d set the rules right back at the beginning. It would change everything if I ignored them. So instead, I sullenly nursed my wounded pride and felt miserably abandoned.
You know it is, I said gruffly and waited. I wasn’t about to let her off the hook that easily.
I almost hung up the silence was so long.
S – u – u – u – s – a – n, she said between great heaving gulps of sobbing. I… I … I haven’t been able to call you. I’m in hospital….
Another lengthy silence.
By now I was going through all sorts of loops of guilt, regret, confusion. But I just had to let her get over this idiotic sobbing. She’s such a drama queen sometimes!
Then a different voice came on the line.
Hello. My name is Jonathan Silver. I’m Susan’s doctor. She’s unfortunately not able to talk more to you just now. Your friend is in intensive care at the St Alfred Hospital. She’s been here for the last two months. Ever since she regained consciousness yesterday, she has been asking for you. Eventually her social worker was able to find your contact number and organise for her to speak to you. However, what you heard is as much as she could manage. Given that she has no relatives or other contacts that we can ascertain, we’re hoping that you would be able to come and visit her. If you decide to visit, we will be able to fill you in on as much as we know about what brought her into hospital. Susan has agreed to that. And perhaps you could give us some much needed context to her circumstances.
Tears streaming down my cheeks, I thought of all those other calls I’d deliberately ignored. I promised to visit immediately. How could I have got it so wrong !
© Raili Tanska
Luna had decorated her bedroom ceiling with five beautifully painted faces: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Neville. They were not moving as the portraits at Hogwarts moved, but there was a certain magic about them all the same: Harry thought they breathed. What appeared to be fine golden chains wove around the pictures, linking them together, but after examining them for a minute or so, Harry realized that the chains were actually one word, repeated a thousand times in golden ink: friends . . . friends . . . friends . . .”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows