The phone rang, it stirred me out of a deep slumber. Bleary eyed and still half asleep, I rolled and squinted at my alarm clock. 3:18 AM. Groaning, I pulled myself up into a sitting position, reached over and switched on the lamp beside my bed.
With slightly sweaty palms, I answered the phone and managed to mumble a greeting. The voice on the other end made me sit up straight, my eyes suddenly more open than ever. The thick southern drawl the voice had was unexpected, and a little horrifying. I had tried hard to get away from it; but somehow it was vaguely recognizable.
“Is this Annabel? Annabel Riley?” The voice questioned, and I felt a little stammer escape my throat as I replied.
“Uh...yes, speaking. I’m sorry - what is this call concerning?”
“It’s about Mikah.” The voice said, and I felt a cold sheath of sweat begin to travel up my arms and back. My mouth suddenly felt so dry, like sandpaper. My heart began to race. I shook my head, clenched my eyes shut. I must have heard it wrong.
“Sorry, did you say Mikah? Look, who is this?” I felt defensive, offended, almost as if this mystery night-caller was some kind of prankster. But the voice on the other end remained calm, collected.
“This is Mikah’s brother, Eddie.” The voice drawled out, and I felt as though I had been slapped in the face with a gallon of freezing water.
“Look,” he said slowly, “I know it’s awful late, I’m real sorry to disturb you at such an hour. But bad news has a tendency to come at the worst times, anyway, right?” I could hear the sound of a cigarette being lit in the background; then, he exhaled deeply.
“I managed to track your number down. Took a while, you’ve changed your name n’ everything. Always said you’d get out of this hick town, well, power to you Annabel.” I lurched forward, raising my hands to my hair. I felt out of breath, exhausted, just by a few words.
“You’re Eddie. As in Eddie Simone? One of the Simone brothers?” I questioned, suddenly recalling the Simone Plantation. The huge wrap around porch painted a crumbly white, the overgrown acres of woodland and forest, the endless roads leading to nowhere.
“Yes, as in Eddie Simone.” He replied, the sound of a drag from his cigarette making his voice deeper. “But I didn’t call to have a little catch up. Like I said, it’s about Mikah.” I winced when he said that name again, pursing my lips.
“Well...what about him?” I asked cautiously, fearfully. I had spent years trying to avoid the very mention of that name. The very reminder of him.
“He’s dead.” Eddie replied. I felt my fingers go numb from clutching the phone so hard to my ear. A high pitched ringing sound resonated for a few seconds in my head. My vision went milky white for the tiniest fraction of a moment.
“I’m sorry?” I asked, my voice a tiny squeak.
“He killed himself last week. Drove his car into the lake.” The high pitched ringing got louder. I felt myself pushing forward, out of the bed, and my feet met with the cold floor-boards.
“Is this some kind of practical joke, Eddie? I mean, what, what are you talking about? What do you mean he - he killed himself?” He sighed, sounding exasperated. The line crackled.
“Look Annabel, I’m ain’t gonna discuss the ins and outs of what happened here on the telephone. I just thought you needed to know...considering the past.” His voice softened, quieting. “His funeral is on Sunday. You’ve got five days to get your shit together, whatever ya’ll need to do, and fly down for it. Now I ain’t assuming you even care, but I’ve spent the last couple hours of the AM calling people and being the bearer of bad news. Last thing I need is another meltdown.” I found that I was pacing my room, an unbearable under the skin itch taking over me. I felt confused, angry, irritated.
“Eddie, please, can you just explain -”
“I gotta go. You’ll have plenty explanation when you get here. Besides, our old man wants to see you. And I’m sure your old man would like to see you too. Annabel,” his voice was sad, melancholy. “Mikah would have wanted you to be there.”
The line went dead.
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