He always let the phone ring twice before answering, just to be sure it was a real call.
“I hate you and I never want to see you,” a shrill voice rang out.
“Um … who is this?”
“Cheryl” the voice replied.
He paused a moment to reflect, his mind swimming through a sea of names and faces, but landed on nothing familiar. “I don’t know anyone named Cheryl.”
“Who is this?”
“Matt. Matt Reinhart.”
There was a pause. A gasp. A click. And he walked away from the phone.
“I want you to know that I hate you, and I never want to see you.”
He sighed. “Cheryl, this is Matt again. Goodbye.” The phone was barely out of his hand when he heard it.
Was it … ?
Should he … ?
“Don’t hang up” the now familiar voice squeaked.
“Just let me explain …” He decided to let her. “Today has been very rough and filled with a lot of misdirected hostility. Then I heard your voice and your name, and something changed inside me. I knew. Matt Reinhart … do you believe it’s possible to hate someone you’ve never met?”
* * *
Story by Gregory M. Fox
from A Breath of Fiction’s archives
originally published October 23, 2010