A New Way to Die ( Working title-Til Delete Do We Part)
Written by Carla Bonnell-Rickard
“Shut up or I’ll delete you!” Jo was silenced for a brief moment. Irony tickled her belly and she broke out in a gigantic burst of laughter.
“Mom you can’t delete me. I’ll delete you first”. She tossed the phone onto the couch, still laughing at the thought her mother would threaten to delete her. Even more than that, how did things come to this that we had as a society could now delete each other? Her thoughts wandered as she moved towards the coffee maker which was annoyingly empty of water again. No one ever fills this thing. Another responsibility she has to fulfill because the adults in the house are too lazy to be considerate.
Lost in thought Jo moves to the water cooler to fill the coffee container with water. The gurgle and gulping of the released water interrupted her thoughts, reminding her to be careful not to spill on the new hard wood floor.
“Deleted? Blocked, yes. Ignored, yes. But deleted?” Her countenance turned to strain on her freckled forehead.
“Ah shit!” water spilling onto the floor just as the house phone starts to ring at the same time a string of text messages are coming through on the iPhone. “Could you all call at once please! “She sarcastically yelled at the monster devices that suddenly disturbed her intense thoughts. Onward bound. The coffee must be made first. These pests can wait.
The laughter just moments ago dissipated into profoundness that was like sticky fly paper trapping her thoughts to the word delete. Finally the coffee was ready. She poured her favourite blend of Colombian decaf with a good shot of half and half cream to cool it down for faster consumption. She grabbed the house phone to return the call that moments ago disturbed her troublesome thought. Yup, it was Delaney calling. She always has impeccable timing. How could you like someone so much that gets on your nerves so easily?
“ Hey chickie wassup?” Jo pitched her voice to sound upbeat to her pesky friend in case she had to let her down easy for asking another inconvenient favour of her.
“ Whatchya doin?”
“Oh just having a coffee and smoke, taking a break. What about you?”
“I got the day off and Leonard is working. Why don’t you come over? “
“I might be able to sneak away for a bit. I can’t stay long though. “
“Why? You got a date? “
“Oh shut up your too funny. No actually, I have to work for a living unlike some people. “
“Ewww Burn!” Delaney bursts out laughing. “That’s ok I have to get groceries later when Leonard gets home from work. He’s going to drive me over to the banana store.”
“I get a kick out of how you all call it the banana store. You are all so simplified. “
“Are you making up words again?” Delaney giggles.
“I can’t help it; it’s my nature to mess with your minds. Keeps you all fresh. “
“Ok well, just call me before you come over to make sure I’m home. I’m taking Kyle out for a walk sometime. “
“ Ya I will. Talk soon” Jo doesn’t wait for the goodbye’s and hangs up. Setting her coffee in the usual place on the knock off marble counter top by the front door, she grabs her coat like she was in hot pursuit of a house fly swarming on a freshly baked apple pie and slams the door on the way out. The bank closes in 15 minutes and the insurance is coming out tomorrow. She jumps in the 6 speed silver bullet she refers to as her car and peels off rock down the drive way to town.
Half way to town, “ shit shit shit, I forgot to lock the door, and I forgot my friggin phone”. Her blood pressure rose like warm oil on top of cold water. It was the hurry hurry stuff that always stressed Jo out.
The house seemed empty without Jo there. Her dog moped in the corner quietly behind the big fluffy easy chair waiting for the rumble of the car tires that spun rock up the driveway on her return. Time seemed to go by slowly for Rocky. The monotonous tick, tick, tick of the clock was incessant, often interrupted by the chiming of the cell phone as text was being received. Every so often, Rocky would open his eyes, but not move a muscle, and heave a sigh. His posture is always in the waiting position of comfort but total readiness to run to the door when Jo got home.
Sleep finally fell upon Rocky when he was shocked awake by Delaney knocking on the door. He did his usual Rocky job and barked as loud and as mean as he could. Delaney jiggled the door handle and pushed it in “Hi Rocky!!” she said with her hands full of her new born baby. “Hello? Jo! Where are you? I’m here!” Delaney slid across the sleek hardwood floors peeking in all the usual corners where Jo may be lurking. It’s that dread feeling in the pit of the gut. “Jo?” her voice more cautioned. She examined the prized cuckoo clock hanging from the wood beam over the wide inviting living room window. “Where’s mommy Rocky? She never leaves the door unlocked or is gone at this time of morning”. Delaney sat down on the suede couch to prepare to relieve her baby of his soggy diaper. She leaped suddenly in the air and started laughing when she discovered the reason for her butt vibrating was she was sitting on a cell phone. She promptly changed the boy’s diaper and tossed the dirty rolled up mess in the opposite corner of the couch, then reached around to snoop out Jo’s phone.
“Last message sent ….last night? “She mumbled out loud. ‘Jo!!!’ Panic becoming apparent in her request for an answer. Dread began to seep into her stomach like the slow oozing of liquid fire down the abyss of a volcano mouth. Withholding full bursts up the stairs she peaked over the railing into the loft bedroom of Jo. Her bed appeared to have not been slept in. Thoughts rushed through her head” should I call her husband? Should I call the police? Maybe the hospital? Wait! Her car wasn’t home when I got here and no one else is here, maybe she’s just out with her husband somewhere…. “As though her cell phone had telepathic powers it sounded off Wild Thing with urgency.
“Hello? “She answered confidently while shaking in her voice.
“I am looking for Delaney Chum.”
“Yes this is she” her mouth becoming dry
“Are you the niece of Jo Turner?”
“Yes….” Her fear beginning to numb her ears to what she was about to hear.
“I’m Nurse Callibrese. Jo listed you next of kin. She is at the Valley Hospital room 232. “
“What happened? “
“We don’t know she was brought in by ambulance early in the evening. Perhaps the doctor will be able to fill you in. “
“Thanks for calling me. I will be right over”, the diaper bag was pretty much all repacked during the phone conversation. Delaney started out the door, “I should take her phone in case she wants to call her husband”. The 10 minute drive on the sun drenched northern highway seemed to take an hour. Once she arrived at room 232 she saw Jo through the small window laying on a narrow bed with thin blue sheets tucked military style around her extremities.
Delaney’s heart sank as she walked toward the side of Jo’s bed. “Hey you…. Are you ok? What happened?” Jo turned her head slightly towards the sound of her voice, her mouth hanging open as though she couldn’t breathe through her nose from a bad cold. Her eyes were un-focused yet darting randomly as if searching for something inside her own brain.
“Are you Miss Chum?” A delicate voice questioned with apologetic interuption.
“Yes I am”
He held out his arthritic hand full of age spots and bone disfigurements. “I’m Dr. Jordan. Your aunt was found in her car like this last night. She arrived by ambulance at the hospital about 9:30 last evening. We are not sure how long she has been in this condition”
“Well I was talking to her yesterday and she was fine. She was supposed to drop by my place for a visit but she never came. I just thought she got busy and we’d catch up after….”
“Yes. Well, she is not responsive to much stimuli. However she does seem to respond to sound but we are unsure if she comprehends anything said to her. We have run tests but at this point we are uncertain as to what happened to her, or what the cause of this seemingly cationic state is… do you understand what I am telling you?”
“I’m trying to” Delaney leans over to her aunt with distress in her voice, “auntie, I brought your phone” she lays it on her belly knowing it was likely pretty useless to her at this point. “I thought maybe you’d want to stay in touch with everyone while you’re getting better. “
Delaney turns her face from Jo as quickly as she can; clutching her new born baby she steps outside of the room, shaking from shock and the worry that Jo won’t get better.
Jo is still staring with mouth wide open in the direction of where she had heard the last human voice. Her phone began to vibrate causing the slippery piece of high end plastic to dance a mini circle on Jo’s stomach.
The message glowed -“You’ve been deleted”.
copyright.2011 Carla Bonnell-Rickard