Miss Lonely Hearts
For several years, I’ve been a member of a group that writes short stories based on given prompts. Over the last couple of years I’ve written quite a few.
Herein lies one…mostly because I’m too lazy to come up with anything original to post today.
Miss Lonely Hearts
The phone rang, and Lucinda turned away from watching the snow fall softly outside her apartment window to answer it.
She wondered who might be calling her. It was, after all, Christmas day and she couldn’t think of a single person in the world who might call to wish her glad tidings of the season. Lucinda had no family left, and her “friends” were more of the acquaintance type.
The closest Lucinda Pierce got to ‘glad tidings’ any more was the forced-cheerfulness of the store clerks who said “Happy Holidays” to her every time she encountered one of them.
As her hand hovered over the receiver she allowed herself the briefest moment to think that it might just be ‘him’…just maybe, after all this time, it could be ‘him’ calling.
It wasn’t as if it was totally out of the realm of possibility. After all, she hadn’t moved and she hadn’t changed her phone number since he left her standing in the center of this very living room, crying, one sunny summer day. He needed his “space”, he had said. She was simply “too intense” for him.
She had never understood how being in love with someone could make them so miserable.
How long ago had that been, she wondered.
Five years? No, longer than that…10 years? Longer still.
Twelve years. It had been twelve years.
The phone rang, again, and snapped from her reverie Lucinda snatched up the receiver.
“Hello?” she asked, more than answered, breathlessly.
“Hello, my name is George Mahoney, and I’m calling on behalf of the Children’s Hospital.” George had recited this particular script so often he was barely aware of the words coming out of his mouth, and totally unaffected by the voice on the other end of the phone. The one which would, no doubt, ask him just why he was calling them on Christmas day and interrupting their turkey, presents, and general greed-fest.
“Why are you calling me on Christmas…………” George heard the familiar protest begin, but this time he heard a hint of something else…genuine surprise and curiosity.
What the heck, he thought, I’ll tell her….at least part of the reason.
“Ma’am I’ll tell you why,” he began, “because most people are home on Christmas day, and we usually catch them in a giving mood.”
“Yes, but why are YOU working on Christmas day? Don’t you have a family?”
Hmmm…George wasn’t prepared for this, nor for his gut reaction. Normally, he could be loquacious when the occasion called for it, but not when this subject came up.
“Ma’am, I am working to raise funds for the new trauma unit being built at Children’s and was wondering if you might be able to help with a small donation.”
“You didn’t answer my question, Mr. Mahoney.”
“I don’t see how that is relevant.”
“Let’s just say I’m curious, and I’ve nothing better to do right now than spend a few minutes getting to know a man who would give up his Christmas to work as a telemarketer.”
“Ma’am I’m not a telemarketer. I’m not selling…I’m asking for donations”
“You mean I don’t get any cute little address labels in return for my donation?” Lucinda laughed.
George liked the sound of her laugh and chuckled himself. This lady was most interesting. However, he had a job to do so he quickly recovered, put his mind back in neutral, and carried on.
“Sorry to have bothered you, ma’am….”
“Wait, don’t hang up!” Lucinda said, not oblivious to the fact that she sounded a tad desperate.
Okay, more than a tad.
“Excuse me?” George was not used to having someone actually ask him not to hang up.
“Please sir, whatever-your-name-is sorry, I forgot…”
“George, it’s George.”
“Please, George, don’t hang up just yet. It’s Christmas, and I’m all alone, and I’m guessing you are too or you wouldn’t be calling people asking for donations.”
There was silence on the other end of the phone, and Lucinda wondered if she hadn’t crossed over the line from just sounding a little desperate to sounding stalker-desperate.
“What’s your name?” George finally broke the silence.
“Well, Lucinda, you’re right. I am alone, just like you. The reasons are many and varied, probably just like your reasons.”
“You ain’t kiddin’” Lucinda replied.
George chuckled, perhaps the little voice inside him telling him to take a chance was right this time. Drawing himself up a little in the uncomfortable chair, he decided to take that leap of faith.
“So, how about you agree to make a small donation to Children’s, and in return I’ll buy you a cup of coffee?”
“Yep, you name the time and place and I’ll be there. After all, I am very dedicated to this cause.”
It was Lucinda’s turn to chuckle.
Why not? she thought, even as her rational brain was screaming that this guy might be some kind of psycho.
She heard herself telling George she’d gladly donate $100 to the organization if he’d meet her tomorrow at Perk-O-Latte. It was a safe place, always full of people.
“So, we’re set then?” She asked.
“Right, for your $100 you get one large mocha-latte from me.”
“See you at noon, tomorrow.” Lucinda said as she hung up the phone.
She turned to face her lonely-looking little Christmas tree, and realized she hadn’t even turned the twinkly lights on.
After plugging in the lights, she turned on the radio just in time to hear her favorite Christmas song, “Silent Night”, playing.
Walking to the window, she watched the snow fall as the day faded into night.
She wondered what tomorrow would bring, but decided to leave that to fate.
It was enough, for now, to let her heart dwell on the promise a new day brings.