Friday, December 11, 2015

Microstory 210: The Line

Talking on the phone is my greatest fear, and I never do it. I’m best with the written word, because I have time to really think about what I want to say. I become quite anxious around others, but at least when I’m talking to people face to face, I can read their reaction to what I’m saying, and tailor my words to fit their demeanor. I’ve been working with a therapist, but I still jump away when I hear the phone ring. Believe it or not, that’s progress. I used to hide in the other room. And so, whenever I have a question that can’t be answered through cyberspace, I just drive to where I need to be. I’ve been having problems with water damage in my basement, and recently attached this flexible plastic tubing to my gutters. The problem is that the tubes are constantly in my way when I’m trying to mow or rake the leaves. I would like to bury them in the ground, but I need to find out where I’m allowed to dig, and whether I need to obtain some kind of permit, or if I’m not allowed to do it myself.

I pull up to the local government building and walk inside. I am immediately met with the longest queue I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously, I can’t even tell where it ends. I stand in line for nearly an hour, and feel like I’ve made no progress, but I know that I have. No musak is playing, so time goes by very slowly. All of the sudden, my name is called on the intercom. I don’t move for half a moment, because I didn’t expect it to happen. No one knows that I came here. I didn’t call, I didn’t write; I just showed up. That’s how I do what I do when I do what I do. Just as I’m thinking that I may have misheard the announcement, they call my name again, and this time I’m sure that they mean me. They even use my middle name. I timidly step out of line and head down the hallway according to the directory on the wall. The place is a maze, and I think I went in circles a few times, but everything looks pretty much the same. Finally, I arrive at the door where the lady on the intercom told me to go. After preparing myself the best I possibly can, I turn the knob and peek inside. All I see is complete darkness. Not even the first few inches of the floor are illuminated by the light from the hallway. “Hello?” I fearfully call into the void before me. A phone rings. I jump back and try to leave but the hallway is gone. I am in the midst of the blackness. Another phone rings. And then another. And then a chorus of phones, ringing at different intervals, and with different tones.

As I’m dying on the floor, my heart trying desperately to beat, but failing, I see an alien walk over me and pick up one of the phones. “I was right! Humans can die of fear. It’s probably a heart thing. You owe me five space bucks.”

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