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The Missed Call

Alicia struggled to balance the bag of groceries as well as her handbag while trying to unlock the door to her apartment. The key slipped into its slot but refused to turn. She gripped it tighter and twisted hard, cursing softly as she felt the metal give a split second after hearing the metal snap. She stood for close to a minute staring dumbly down at the silver head still clasped between her fingers.

“Great! Good to know your own strength, Ali.” she mumbled to herself as her eyes traveled from the useless lock to the even more useless half key in her hand.

Her bag buzzing against her hip broke her stupor; she deposited the sliver of silver between her lips to free her hand so she could dig through her bag to find her phone. The ever elusive phone continued to buzz angrily as she dug through wallets and tissues and old bills and make-up bags and a myriad of useless paraphernalia that had no place being inside of a woman’s bag, but somehow had found their way there anyway.

She pulled her hand back as a sharp pain ripped through her finger, droplets of blood oozing slowly from her throbbing digit. “Argh! Ffffu...!!! Dammit!!!” she muttered with the broken key still between her lips.

She grabbed the offensive sewing kit; a fresh droplet of blood still clung to the tip of the needle as she threw the half open box to the ground. She watched as a crimson bead pooled around the tiny hole before running down her finger and dropping onto her brand new Carducci shoes.

“Nooooo…” she moaned as she bent to wipe it before it dried, gripping the grocery bag tighter to keep it from falling.

Still the phone continued to buzz.

“Not the shoes… not the shoes… Ohhhh god! Please not the shoes!” she chanted as she dabbed at the spot with her fingers, cringing as she realised too late that she was rubbing the blood from her pierced finger onto the cream suede as well.

“Half my salary down the drain!” she babbled almost tearfully as she straightened up.

The brown paper bag split along the side as she hugged it tightly to her chest. The French loaf broke and half of it dangled awkwardly from its brown paper sheath. The salami spilled from the side and rolled across the hall, followed closely by two onions.

She heard a crunch underfoot as she stepped on the discarded sewing kit, the grocery bag tearing further as she instinctively clutched it harder. Alicia gulped hard as a can of tomatoes dropped onto her foot. She grabbed for her throat, her eyes popping comically in their sockets as her mouth formed a huge O, causing the chunk of silver that had been dangling from her lips to slip into her throat. The unexpected intrusion made her gag and let go of the bag. She coughed and spluttered, hardly noticing the pain of the heavy bag dropping onto her foot, bottles and cans rolled in all directions, the bottle of olive oil popping its top from the impact and spilling over her other shoe.

Still the phone continued to buzz.

She grabbed for the door handle as she lost her balance. The impact of her weight made the apparently unlocked door swing inward, causing her to rock unsteadily before tumbling belly down into the apartment, the contents of her bag spilling everywhere. The force of the fall dislodged the stuck object from her throat and she felt it slide down her esophagus, swallowing hard before gasping for air. She lay panting on the wooden floor, trying to catch her breath.

She reached for the phone that had landed half an arms length from her, but just as her fingers slipped around it, it stopped buzzing. She looked at the screen; the missed call was from an unknown number. Unshed tears of self-pity pooled in her eyes as she stared dazedly at the phone.

A minute or two passed before her numbed fingers obeyed her commands again. She dialed her voicemail, listened intently as her anxious heart thumped loudly. She lay on the hard floor like a beached fish, cringing inwardly as she recognised the deep male voice on the recording, “Hi… I mean hello. I don’t know if you remember me, my name is Scott. You bought me a drink the other night? I… I erm… it just occurred to me that you never gave me your name. I was hoping to buy you a drink or maybe dinner. Call me? Or I could call back? I… erm… yes, I will call back. Bye. Did I mention that it’s Scott?”

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