Ring

Ring 

He always let the phone ring twice before answering, just to be sure it was a real call.

Ring …  

“Hello?”

“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.

Ring … 

Ring 

“Hello?”

“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.

Ring … 

Was it … ?

Ring … 

Should he … ?

Ring …

“Hello?”

“Don’t hang up” the now familiar voice squeaked.

“Cheryl?”

“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?”

* * *

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Story by Gregory M. Fox
from A Breath of Fiction’s archives
originally published October 23, 2010