Flash fiction is an umbrella term used to describe any fictional work of extreme brevity, including the Six-Word Story, 140-character stories, also known as twitterature, the dribble (50 words), the drabble (100 words), and sudden fiction (750 words).
I don’t know how long I stood with the phone pressed to my ear. I hear you asking over and over again, “Hello! Hello. Can you hear me?”
I can, but I choose to be silent.I have nothing to say. Not to you. You who had left me years ago and were now back to claim me, is it? What could I possibly have to say to you after all these years?
I put the phone in its cradle and go back to my vigil by the bedside of the only person I love with all my heart. Your mother. Yes, yours, not mine. But she became mine when you disappeared one day dumping me on her. To get a job and make a better life for us, you said. But you never came back.
I know you will have your side of the story to tell, the hardships you faced of which I know nothing. You are right. I don’t. Did you wander looking for work? Were you hungry? Did you find a roof to sleep? Were you safe? But neither do you know about our own difficult times, the crumbling house, the days we went hungry, the fears, but most of all the abandonment I felt.
Now I have earned myself a name, and a job, having topped the university. From wherever you are, you have picked up the news, my name, my pictures. You remember your abandoned daughter and mother. You make the call. Is it to assuage your feelings of guilt?
The phone rings again. I ignore it. I don’t want to hear you calling me your daughter. I am not. I belong this frail, old woman here. Fear grips my being as I look at her. What will I do if I lose her? Most of the time she doesn’t even remember me by name these days. She calls me by yours. The irony.
She moves and I rush to attend her. I gently push the hair off her forehead and stroke her head, face, hands. Do you want something to drink, I ask her, the same way she used to ask me when I was small and ill and was thirsty, but only tossed and turned. She stares at me blankly. Bell, she says, bell.
I had stopped noticing the ringing phone. Now its ringing intrudes. I walk to it reluctantly and pick it up. “Hello, Hello!” says an unfamiliar male voice. There is urgency in his voice. I frown. I reply cautiously, “Hello!”
“Please don’t put the phone down. Listen to what I have to say!” He talks. He is the caretaker at a home where you stay, he tells me. As I listen, my eyes fill up and the tears flow down my cheeks. And then he gives the phone to you, the mother who gave me birth. I am unable to say a word. You say my name hesitantly. It is almost a question. Suddenly I hear myself sobbing and letting go of all the hurt of the past years.
“I’ll come for you, mother” I tell you over and over again, assuring you before putting the phone down. I wipe my tears and smile, suddenly glad that my photo and name was in the papers, also that my face looked just the same. I am glad it jogged my mother’s memory. Tomorrow I’ll make arrangements to go and bring her back home.
Note: Dear readers, don’t ask me what happened to the mother and how she landed in a home or why she forgot her own home and daughter. I cooked this story up in half an hour and now it is time to post. Of course, I have my own explanations but there is no time to fill in all those details. The clock is ticking!!! So I leave it all to your imagination.
©Shail Mohan 2016
Day 29 NaBloPoMo 2016