She rubbed her eyes once, letting the short relief of closing her eyes wash over her. After having stared at the screen for a good four hours working on her next story that was due the next day, she knew she needed to take a break or she’d suffer temporary blindness.
Getting up from her desk, she walked over to the kitchen where she poured herself a cup of cold coffee. Taking a sip, she cringed; forgetting that the coffee was steaming hot three hours ago but had now turned into stale tasting, cold coffee. She took another sip before pouring the rest of it from her cup into the sink. She had another one-third of a story to finish and cold coffee wasn’t going to help her. She threw out the rest of the coffee in her jug before proceeding to prepare a fresh pot. This time, she was going to make sure the pot accompanied her at her desk.
Having sometime on her hands before the coffee was ready, she walked over to her couch where she switched on the television. She flipped the channels until she found AMC. They were replaying an episode of The Walking Dead. Sweet. She was just about to get comfortable when the phone rang. She reached over to the side table and picked up the phone.
She waited a few seconds for the person on the other end to answer. But there was no response.
She waited again, this time checking the clock on her wall to see what time it was. 2.45am. Who would be calling her this late? Feeling slightly annoyed, she decided not to be patient anymore.
“Whoever this is, listen carefully. It is lame to prank call someone at an hour that clearly doesn’t bother them. So, your plan failed. Good-bye.”
Just as she was about to move the receiver away from her ear, she heard a voice on the other end.
“Hello? Please don’t put down the phone.”
She frowned as she moved the receiver back to her ear.
“Who is this?”
“My name is Darius. I can’t remember how I got this number but please don’t put down the phone. I am not a prank caller.”
“Okay… Wait. Are you in danger?”
“Yeah. Like the movie with Kim Basinger and Chris Evans?”
“Oh… Right. Cellular.”
“Yes! That! You’ve seen the movie?”
“Yeah. But no, this isn’t the same situation. No one has kidnapped me.”
“Right. So you have no idea why you’re calling a stranger at 2.45am in the morning and it so happens it is a lady on the other line?”
“Would you believe me if I said I can’t remember?”
“Well, no. Obviously. For all I know, you’re a part of an elaborate plan my sister put together.”
Hearing the click of her coffee pot, she stood up. She brought her phone into the kitchen as she readied her fresh cup of coffee.
“But you’re still not putting down the phone.”
She smiled to herself.
“Well, Darius, I must say.. I’m intrigued by this call. I am a journalist you know.”
“Journalist, huh? Which paper do you write for?”
“The New York Times. You might have read my articles. I’m Eleanor Tyring.”
“Tyring.. Interesting. I know a Tyring. Lizzie Tyring.”
“Lizzie? That’s my sister!”
“Oh! That’s a coincidence. I don’t recall her telling me she had a sister…”
“She tends to leave me out of conversations because I don’t want her hooking me up with one of her friends.”
“People like me.”
“Yes, people like you.”
“Yet you’re still on the phone with me.”
“Well, like I said. I’m a journalist. If you turn out to be a creep, it would make for a good feature story.”
She hears his throaty chuckle and unknowingly smiled.
“Listen, I have to go now. Thank you for not hanging up on me.”
She hears another chuckle before the line went dead. Eleanor moved the receiver away from her ear and held it in her hand as she looked at it. That was such a strange phone call. She thought about those reports where people tend to have their transmissions crossed and end up speaking with someone they have never met. Perhaps this was one of those incidents. Maybe he was a Marine trying to call home but ended up in a phone conversation with her. She shrugged and put the cordless phone back into its receiver before heading back into the kitchen to carry the pot and cup of coffee with her to her desk.
“Wake up, sleepyhead.”
Eleanor jolted awake at the sudden sound of her sister’s voice. She looked around and realized that she had fallen asleep on her desk. Her gaze landed on the computer screen in front of her which showed her that her story had been sent off to her editor. She sighed with relief, glad that she has one less thing to worry about.
Her sister stood next to her. “You slept at your desk again.”
Eleanor looked at her sister. “You let yourself into my apartment again.”
Lizzie rolled her eyes and moved to pick up the coffee pot and cup that was on Eleanor’s desk before walking to the kitchen. Remembering last night’s mysterious phone call, Eleanor decided to ask her sister about it.
“Hey Lizzie…” Eleanor said.
Her sister put the pot and cup into the sink before turning to look at her. “Yeah?”
“I was wondering… Do you have a friend named Darius?” Eleanor asked.
“Yeah… I did.” Lizzie replied.
“You said ‘did’.. What do you mean by that?” Eleanor said.
Lizzie sighed. “He passed away last year on this date. Don’t you remember? He was the one I tried to set you up with.”
Eleanor frowned. “Set me up with?”
“He was Mitchell’s friend. We figured it would be nice for the two of you to hang out. He was into the things you liked. We gave him your number before we left.” Lizzie said. “After that… One of those long-haul trucks collided with Darius’ car and he died on the spot.”
Eleanor stepped back, her head whirling. Now that her sister’s told her about Darius, the mysterious phone call wasn’t what she thought it was anymore.
“What-What time did the accident happen?” Eleanor asked.
Lizzie thought for a bit. “Oh, 2.45am.”
Eleanor felt light-headed and held onto the kitchen counter to stop herself from falling onto the ground. Lizzie touched her sister’s shoulder. “Are you okay?”
She didn’t know what to tell her sister. So she merely nodded before moving towards the couch. She sat down and looked at the phone on the side table.
Did she really talk with Darius’ spirit last night?