A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).
Evelyn’s afternoon in the study is relaxing and productive. She pays a few bills, re-organizes the cubbyholes in the rolltop desk, and begins to make a list for Thanksgiving. Much to her surprise, the list is indicating a party. A large party. A feast.
“Am I nuts?” she says to no one, tapping her pen between her upper and lower teeth and taking a look at the list.
Spontaneously, she reaches for the phone and speed dials #03.
“Judy!” Evelyn says, after her daughter-in-law, who is out of breath for some reason, says a quick “Hello.”
“Evelyn! How are you?”
“I’m great,” Evelyn replies, “and I’m thinking about Thanksgiving. Have you made plans?”
“God,” Judy says, “that’s what—two weeks from tomorrow? No, as a matter of fact, I hadn’t even thought about it.”
“Well, I’m thinking about having a gathering here. Interested?”
“What, and have no mess of my own to clean up?! That hardly sounds right!”
“I take that as a ‘yes.’”
“Absolutely. Listen, Ev—, I gotta run. Today has been crazed from the get-go.”
“I understand. We’ll talk later in the week.”
“You got it.”
After they both hang up, Evelyn finds “Patrick and fam” on the list. She writes a “5” in the column on the left and circles it.
Evelyn is about to make another call, but before she has a chance to hit the next speed-dial buttons, the handset rings.
“Hello?” she says.
“Evelyn! It’s Angie! So, so sorry I have been out of touch!”
Evelyn, not having considered that Angie had been out of touch, is at a loss for what to say. Fortunately, she doesn’t need to say anything just yet.
“Anyway, Ev, I was just looking at the calendar. How did it get to be the middle of November already? I just cannot keep up, you know?”
Whatever, Evelyn thinks.
“So, anyway, I was wondering what you folks are planning to do for Thanksgiving. I don’t suppose you’re staying in town, are you?”
What a ridiculous question, Evelyn thinks. Our two children who have families live in town. Davy has Alzheimer’s. Where might we go for the holiday? On a “cruise to nowhere?”
“Well, Angie,” says Evelyn, trying not to sound as disinterested as she actually feels, “I was just starting to make some calls, in fact. I think we’re going to do Thanksgiving here this year. Would you care to join us?”
“Oh, Ev, you are a life saver! I would love to join you! I have just been so—oh, hey, can you hang on a minute? I’ve got another call coming in.”
“Sure,” says Evelyn.
The limbo of “hold” is okay with Evelyn. And she frankly doesn’t care if Angie spends the rest of her afternoon on that other call. It’s her dime, after all.
But, having been so productive up to this point, Evelyn chooses not to waste these moments. She scans the list in front of her so as to enter a “1” beside Angie’s name. And then, having attempted that exercise, she smiles in bewilderment. As it turns out, she had neglected to include Angie’s name on the list.
“Interesting,” Evelyn says to her list, as she adds Angie’s name to the bottom and annotates it with a circled “1” in the left column.
“Interesting,” she says again, still on hold.
Evelyn waits another thirty seconds or so, and then she realizes that this is absurd. She should not be hanging on the phone like this. She should not be allowing someone to be so disrespectful. She holds out the phone so as to hit the button that will cut off this waste of her time. But just in that moment, she hears a voice. She brings the phone back to her ear.
“Evelyn!” Angie says, having returned to the line breathless. “I am so sorry.”
“It’s okay, Angie. Really. It’s okay. I, uh, need to go, though. So…we’ll see you in a few weeks?”
“I’m looking forward to it, Evelyn, I really am. And of course, I’ll give you a buzz a few days ahead to see what I can bring.”
“Sounds great,” says Evelyn. “Talk to you then.”
Evelyn hits the Off button and continues where she wished she could have gone. “Sure, Angie,” she says to the turned-off phone, “how about a case of that three-dollar wine?”
* * *
to be continued on June 11th.
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.