Friday, July 29, 2011

TRDC: The Gift

 Today’s post is based on a prompt from The Red Dress Club. Our assignment was to revise an old piece. I found this flash fiction story I wrote for an on-line writing class I took in the spring of 2010. The class inspired me to start writing again and eventually to start this blog. It was great to look back and realize how much I’ve grown as a writer and have the chance to really improve one of my first stories. The original prompt for this story was to begin with the sentence, “Pat knew for a long time that a clairvoyant gift was a mixed blessing.” My favorite part of rewriting this story was getting rid of that opening sentence!

The Gift
Pat’s gift was limited. Her clairvoyance never reached beyond the ringing telephone. Her husband often remarked that they didn’t need caller ID. He would look at her when the phone rang. “Don’t bother,” she would say while preparing dinner, “it’s only a telemarketer.”  Pat’s mother had the gift too. One of her earliest memories was of her mother, elbow deep in soapy water when the phone rang saying, “Can you answer that honey? I think it’s my brother. He’s probably having a bad day.”
Today the sound of the phone made her chest feel cold. Pat didn’t know who was on the other end of the line. She only knew they were calling with bad news. Pat considered not answering it. Maybe if she didn’t pick up the phone the bad thing might never happen. Shaking off the nonsense of that thought, she picked up the phone with a trembling hand, “Hello?”
“Hello. Mrs. Jones?”
“Yes.”
“This is Lorraine from Dr. Fenton’s office.”
Pat’s annual physical had been a few days before. She sat down at her kitchen table and fumbled with her teacup. The amber liquid splashed onto the linen placemat. “Oh? Hello Lorraine. What can I do for you?”
“I’m just calling to let you know your blood tests all came back normal.”
“Normal?”
“Yes. Everything is fine. CBC came back normal. Cholesterol is normal—in fact it’s quite good. We won’t need see you again for another year unless anything come up.” Reported Lorraine.
“Really?” Pat tried to slow her breathing. “Well, thanks for calling. You have a good afternoon Lorraine”
“Thanks. You too Mrs. Jones.”
Pat hung up the phone. The cold feeling in her chest remained. She breathed deeply, willing herself to relax. “It was nothing silly,” she told herself. “You were worried over nothing.”
Lorraine tucked the report back into the folder labeled Pamela Jones and prepared to make the next call. These were the toughest. She had to be vague and give as little information as possible—just get the patient back in to see the doctor and have more tests done. She took a deep breath as the phone rang.
“Hello?”
 “Hello. Mrs. Jones? This is Lorraine from Dr. Fenton’s office.”