Home » Flash fiction » Short vignette/flash fiction: “The Call”

Short vignette/flash fiction: “The Call”

Had some self doubt about my writing, caused by focusing on the wrong things and not writing/reading stuff that really thrilled me. As a bit of a balm I leafed through one of my books on writing and found a nice prompt to play with. I feel strongly enough about this that I might include it in that legendary in-progress book based on my NaNoWriMo. It would be a nice twist to the story in the later half.

Without any further ado, read below if you please.

The sharp ring of the phone, combined with the dull buzzing from the vibrate function he’d never managed to shut off,  roused him from his slumber, penetrating through his dreamless sleep, pulling him out of its comforting embrace. Muttering half intelligible curses he extracted his arm from the warmth of the covers to do a frantic search for the cell phone left on the nightstand. For a second he feared that whoever was disturbing his slumber would give up before he could press the “receive call” button, so it was with some relief that he heard something on the other end when he rasped out a hoarse “Hello” into the receiver.

“Zouriel?”

The voice on the other end managed to freeze his blood and send a knife in the gut at the same time, rendering him completely speechless. This wasn’t possible. He’d seen the reports. The silence stretched on, only punctuated by the breathing on the other line. He wasn’t entirely sure if he was still breathing himself, but there was a painful thumping in his chest that indicated that at least his heart was beating.

“Hello?” That voice again. “Are you still there?”

Zouriel had to pull himself together, if only so he could prove that whoever it was on the line was fucking with him in a really bad way.

“Marcus?”

His voice was barely above a whisper, hoarse and unrecognizable to his ear, yet with a questioning undertone.

“Zouriel, thank god. I thought you’d hung up on me.”

He let that familiar voice wash over him, indulging himself, letting himself believe for a moment that this wasn’t a dream. Because that’s what it was, surely. He should just go with it.

“How the hell are you still alive?” he heard himself say, accusing.

He only receiving a light chuckle in response at first, the sound sent goose bumps up and down his spine. This was Marcus; there was no way anyone could fake that. Suddenly he was trembling.

“They told me you were all dead”, he said after he allowed himself a few minutes to collect himself, praying Marcus would not hear the catch in his voice, a sign of the tide of emotions threatening to wash over him.

“They tell you a lot of things in this shithole”, Marcus said, his breathing heavy and husky over the scratchy connection. Zouriel wondered where he was, dared he ask?

“What took you so long to call?” he said, his nails digging into his free palm to keep some semblance of control of the situation. At some point he had sunk to the floor, huddled up in a crouching position against the frame of the bed, rocking slightly back and forth.

“It’s like you said…” Marcus began. “I’m supposed to be dead. This is a huge gamble for me…”

Anger sparked at the back of Zouriel’s mind, the hurt he felt laced his voice when he spat his response into the mouthpiece.

“Then why did you call me at all then”, he hissed. “Maybe I’m all over you with a new boyfriend sleeping next to me.”

The light chuckle came over the phone again; he could picture the expression of resignation and slight amusement on his face. The image was so clear to him that he found it hard to keep his cool.

“Because I missed you…I had to hear your voice”, Marcus said, his voice barely a sigh, pausing before he continued in a more confident tone. “I know you Zouriel, I know you’re not the kind of person who moves on just like that.”

There was a burning feeling at the corner of his eye. Zouriel hadn’t had it properly explained to him if his new eye implant allowed him the luxury of tears, but there was a stinging feeling in all the right places now.

“Fuck you”, he managed to get out, voice finally cracking. “I don’t miss you at all.”

Then there was just the heavy breathing over the phone, mingling with his dry and ragged breaths as his hand pulled at his hair, riding the tide of emotions that washed over him, making his body tremble violently.

“I wish I could be there with you”, Marcus finally said, his voice ghost like over the line. “But I can’t.”

His voice had the same pain in it, the same hurt and longing. Zouriel had a million questions at the tip of his tongue, futile questions to be sure, but he just wanted to prolong this conversation, to keep Marcus here with him on the line.

What happened instead was that the silence was broken by a loud sound over the phone, followed by a rustle.

“I have to go”, Marcus said, fear lacing his voice.

“Wait!” Zouriel said, grasping at anything to keep him from hanging up. “Will you…Will you call again?”

“I’m sorry, Zouriel. I’m so sorry”, Marcus said, frantic, breath ragged and labored, obviously running now. “I really have to go.”

A loud thump which made Zouriel’s heart stop and unconsciously he held his breath.

“I love you, Zouriel.”

Then there was a click and the line went dead.

He wasn’t sure how long he sat there with the silent phone pressed against his ear, wishing, hoping for something…anything. It was strange how you could feel elated and utterly crushed at the same time.

“…I love you too”, he muttered to the mouth piece and then he let the phone slip from his limp fingers and fall to the floor with a dull thud.

There was only one thought remaining to him as he begged for sleep to reclaim him, to take the edge of this moment. His bedroom had never felt this empty before.

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