20 December 2011


For the umpteenth time that morning, Virginia checked the telephone.  First, she picked up the receiver and listened for the dial tone.  It was fine.  Next, she checked the volume adjuster, making sure it was turned up all the way.  That was okay.  Then, she ran her hand over the length of the cord from the handset to the answering machine and from the machine to the wall; still nothing out of the ordinary there.

Virginia placed her hands on her hips and sighed. She knew better than to wait around for the agency to call her back.  They never call. She shrugged. At least, they never call me.  But this time had been different.  It was like there was chemistry, or something.  I felt it and I was good.  I was more than good, I was damn good. They loved me; I know they did.  Even Tina, the casting assistant, called to congratulate her on how well she heard Virginia had done.  She said they were 'very impressed' and that Virginia should ‘expect the call’. 

Virginia sulked back to the couch and flopped onto it face down. Grabbing both sides of a fluffy yellow pillow, she began to scream into it. Aaaaaaaaaaargh!  She stopped as suddenly as she had started.  Easing her herself up onto her knees, she struck her forehead with the palm of her hand. My cell. Duh! She had given them the number to her cell.

Without another thought, Virginia marched into her bedroom.  Standing over her king-sized bed, she grabbed her purse and tipped it upside down, throwing the contents everywhere. Okay, it has to be here somewhere.  She rifled through the items on her bed: lipstick, eye shadow, car keys, house keys, wallet, appointment book, chewing gum, perfume, ballpoint pen, lip gloss, several chewing gum wrappers, assorted coins and a host of ATM receipts.  Dammit! Where is it?

Okay, Gin.  Squeezing her eyes shut, she began to breathe loudly through her nose. Just calm down and think!  Where were did you have it last?  Opening her eyes again, she walked back into the living room waving her hands as she moved, almost as if she were conducting an imaginary orchestra.  I was…no, no, where was I?  She wheeled around on her toes, scanning the entire room.  I was?  She took two paces toward the kitchen.  No, wait.  Turning around, Virginia headed for the table beside the front door in the hallway.  But, I, no…not, agh!  I had to be in the bathroom, yep, that’s it.  She dashed into the bathroom and switched on the light. That’s right. I was in here when I talked to Tina.  She smiled to herself as she checked the sink and turned to check out the linen closet. I must have put it in there when I got the towel.  Slowly, she began to pat the pile of clean linen. It has to be in here.  Removing clean towels one by one, she piled them on the floor around her.   

Dammit.  Finally, backing away from the empty closet, Virginia inhaled deeply through her nose. Defeated, Virginia walked toward the living room, and flopped down onto the couch. Looking over her shoulder, she stared at the multicolored towels strewn about the bathroom floor.  Aw, where’s Rosa when you need her?  Virginia snapped her fingers. Rosa! That’s it! Dashing into the bedroom, she scooped up the contents of her purse, and headed for the door.

In less than ten minutes, Virginia arrived at her destination.

“Ah, Miss Virginia, why you crum back here today?” The man wagged a finger, “I say, crum back Fwiday.”

“Oh, I know, Mr. Lee.  But I think I left my cell phone here yesterday.  Did you find it?”

The man furrowed his brow, “Frone? What Frone?” He shook his head, “I not find no frone.”

Virginia’s shoulders began to sink. 

"Ah!" Mr. Lee beamed, “ My wife, maybe my wife! I ask her.”
The middle aged man shuffled into the rear of the dry cleaning shop, shouted something in his native tongue, and returned to the counter with Mrs. Lee in tow.
The older woman bowed slightly, “Ah, Miss Virginia, so nice to see you.”

Impatient, Mr. Lee glared at his wife as he interrupted her. “She want frone.” 

Her aura suddenly growing very serious, Mrs. Lee turned to face her husband, and responded in a language that Virginia could not understand.

Virginia watched silently as the couple began to bicker. Um, hello? My phone? As their voices escalated, Virginia began to worry that the pair might come to blows and she would never find out whether they had found her cell phone. Clearing her throat, she decided to interject with as much cheer as she could muster, “Mrs. Lee, it’s so good to see you again, too.”

Almost immediately, the argument ceased and the couple turned simultaneously to acknowledge Virginia’s presence.

“Yes, you too, Miss Virginia.” Smiling, Mrs. Lee nodded graciously, “Frone in back.” With one eyebrow raised, she cast a sideways glance at her husband, “Yesterday, ring plenty.”

Mr. Lee’s face began to take on a reddish tone.

The older woman shook her head from side to side, and added an index finger for good measure, “Today, no ring.”  Mrs. Lee gestured to Virginia, “You wait, I get.”  Smiling triumphantly, Mrs. Lee turned to face her husband and shuffled past him into the rear of the shop.
Avoiding Virginia's gaze, as the color of his face slowly returned to normal, Mr. Lee began to busy himself cleaning up specks of imaginary dirt on the counter.

Virginia tried hard not to stare. 

Moments later, Mrs. Lee stood at the counter clutching the phone to her bosom. Smiling, even as she glared at her husband again, she offered it to Virginia, “Frone?”

© Ehmee Smith, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ehmee Smith, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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