THE PHONE CALL
Work is a chore for me. Something I, along with my entire facade of a life, resent waking up to endure. Today, in particular, because it’s a Monday. The start of another week in the gruelling life of Beth Waylan.
I’m a paralegal in a big name law firm. Sounds fancy, but all I really do is the dirty work that the lawyers can’t be bothered to complete. I retrieve data, answer phone calls, prepare case documentation, transcribe depositions and statements and attend court proceedings. I help out the top dogs.
It’s laborious, really, because there’s never any respite. My mind constantly has to be in top form, or I risk the chance of damaging precious cases. And, if I do that, I’m fired. It’s just how the law profession works.
Like now, I’m in my little paralegal office, filing documents that have been passed down to me from an associate. My office is standard. The smell of stale dust is prevalent, and the only furniture is my little glass desk positioned in the centre. Pale white paint barricade the walls in invitingly. On the door, my name “Beth Waylan- paralegal” is engraved in dull black.
My phone rings, and with a sigh I pick it up.
“Who is speaking?” I say, trying to hide my annoyance. Phone calls irritate me immensely, especially when I’m in the middle of doing something. Part of me feels as if people know I am busy, and they call deliberately attempting to sabotage my plans.
The line is silent for a long time and I can only hear a distant crackling, like someone is crunching up paper repeatedly. I roll my eyes and prepare to hang up. Just as my finger hovers over the little red symbol, I hear a muffle.
“Look, I’m about to hang up.” I say through gritted teeth; in reality I should’ve hung up already. But, there is something that makes me desperately want to know who this person is. It’s a nagging feeling, a horrible nagging feeling.
“Beth Waylan.” Says a voice. It’s a sarcastic voice, one that I do not recognise. One that is clearly male, and strangely cold and unnerving. He says my name with such conviction, as if I am someone that has done him wrong. It makes my stomach writhe uncomfortably.
“Who is this?” I ask again, keeping my voice controlled and authoritative.
“Beth Waylan”, he says again matter of factly, and I suddenly get the image of him reading from something, like a file, perhaps, or a letter of some sort. “Born on December 5th 1992. Married, to a five foot 10 Caucasian male named Lucas Waylan. Address- 102 Downsawn Road, London. A mother named Jessica Grant, maiden name Jessica Pullman. A father named Paul Grant, both aged fifty. A brother. Jessie Grant, married to Ava Grant, two children called Hughey and Sam, twelve, twins” he states, and I listen in a half-shocked, half-horrified daze. My mental image of him reading from a file has vanished, because I realise something in that chilling tone. It’s as if the details of my life and family are ingrained in his mind, as if he’s already learned all the details of the file, and now he’s simply recollecting it, like a fresh memory.
Now, I’m scared.
“How–how– do you… how do you know…?” I breathe in a mere whisper, my hands shaking as I clutch my Iphone tight, the warm metal pressing against the soft skin on my fingers.
He chuckles then. It’s a humourless chuckle, a dry, deserted, vacant chuckle. It’s not reminiscent of the villains I always see in movies, with their sadistic overzealous cliché cackles, surrounded by cameramen. No. This chuckle is real, it’s a chuckle that is mocking and spiteful, icy and degrading.
I wonder whether to just hang up at this point, to forget the entire encounter happened, to go back to filing, but I can’t. I’m frozen in place, an unusual feeling of anticipation searing through my veins. The incessant human need to know is the only thing fuelling my thought process, and I wait – I wait in fear- but I wait.
“You’re holding your breath, aren’t you sweetheart?” he asks, and I am. I’m holding my breath in sheer terror, terror and anticipation intertwined. It’s peculiar, because there’s almost a tenderness to his voice now, an edgy endearment.
“You’re scared…” he whispers, his voice quiet but raspy, the statement sounding as if he finds this fact extremely interesting, as if it has peaked his brain cells and now I am a specimen waiting to be dissected.
I frown. I frown now, perplexed at both myself and him. Why have I not hung up? Why do I continue to entertain this man, this pathetic man who is probably pranking me for his own sick, twisted form of entertainment? I feel disgusted at myself, and defiantly I put my phone on speaker.
“You’re a sick man, I’m notifying the police.” I spit with a new air of confidence, before angrily slamming my index finger on the hang up button.
And then. Silence.
And I’m left alone with my thoughts, my rabid thoughts that are circulating, deciphering and analysing, confused, seeking explanation. Goosebumps cover my skin like a mean rash, and my breathing is shallow and uneven.
Yet, there is one coherent thought that pops up in my mind, loud and clear, determined: After work I’m going to go to the police station.
I never make it to the police station…