Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: On the Telephone (11/18/10)
TITLE: Connected Through Thanks
By Sara Harricharan
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When I walked through the office door, it was the very last thing I wanted to see, but I was trying to be thankful so I took a breath and counted until I thought my ears were going to pop.
Then I let it out.
It did not help—much.
“Thank you, Lord, that I have a job and plenty of work to do.” I mumbled the words, already feeling a smile tugging at the corners of my mouth. Sometimes, this was like a game. Today had been a day I couldn’t wait to experience.
I had promised to look for the good in every temper-sparking event today—I just hadn’t expected to experience so many of them in the space of a handful of minutes. Somewhere, someone was laughing.
Sorting through the pile of paper, I selected the request at the bottom of the pile. The time and date read for an earlier hour in the day and I was pleasantly relieved to see that there was still time for the request to be completed.
As I sat in the desk chair and chewed my favorite pencil, it took a half-minute to flip through the request. A young college-aged daughter was requesting a phone call to her father, in hopes of patching their strained relationship. For the required one-hundred sentences of gratitude, there were several heartfelt memories listed at the top.
It made me smile.
I flipped through the rest of the requests and organized them according to available time slots and my already-half-way day. Settling down in the chair, I propped my feet up on the desk and kicked the button on the side of the telephone.
“Phone on. Dial.” I read out the number and waited while the system processed the command and the transaction intended.
The gruff voice that filtered through was confirmation enough that I’d found the right home as the speakerphone crackled.
“Nolon Arwith?” I verified, glancing at the request form to double-check. “My name is Lilith Meyers, I’m with the inspirational firm, One-Hundred Memories of Appreciation—your daughter Verona has sent us a request. Could I have a moment of your time?”
“What do you want?”
“I’m calling on behalf of your daughter, Verona Matlock?” I counted numbers on my fingers to keep my voice even. “May I have a moment of your time?”
“She’s asked us to share a few old memories with you, sir, you might want to sit down.”
“I’ll sit when I feel like it and-”
“The first line reads, I am thankful for a father that understands the difference between a doll and a teddy bear. I remember wanting a stuffed toy horse at the time when all the girls were going crazy over Barbie dolls. Dad isn’t good at Christmas shopping, but somehow he found what I wanted—even though he had to search. It would’ve been easier to grab a pink box in the toy aisle of the supermarket, but he didn’t. I am grateful for this memory and I treasure it.”
There was silence on the other end of the phone.
“Mr. Arwith?” I cleared my throat. “I’m going to read the second one, please feel free to interrupt me at any time.”
He didn’t interrupt.
“I am thankful for brown suede boots and what they remind me of. I always wanted a pair of rainboots until I saw my Dad’s old riding boots. They were the prettiest kind of shoes I’d ever seen and I wanted them more than-”
“Verona said you would call.”
“I thought she was joking.”
“This is not a joke.”
“I didn’t think she’d do it. I didn’t think—is she there, can I talk to her?”
“If you would give me a moment.” I tried to press another button with my foot, only to have to sit up and do it manually anyway. It took a moment to patch the call through to Verona.
“He took the call?” There were tears in her voice. She’d been crying.
“We aim to please.” I resisted the urge to salute. She couldn’t see it.
“H-how does he sound?”
“He wants to speak with you.”
Her voice cracked. “T-thank you.”
I connected the call. I’d email the list to the father later, for now—he had what they both needed—a few minutes to talk to each other.
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