The hypnotizing screech of the wipers against the windshield kept my mind heavily sedated and battened down the churning of my stomach to a slow stir. Since the phone call last week, even the slightest sound caused me to jump. Something about it—the white noise, the crackle of electricity in my ear, something—freaked me out from the first ring.
“Something’s happened.” A pop of electricity had me holding the phone an inch or five from my head. “Can you come…? It’s been ages.” The voice, strained and unrecognizable, struggled again through the white noise of the phone.
My forehead furrowed, and my grip on the phone slipped. “Uh …I don’t know who this is. I’m hanging up now.” I couldn’t stop the racing of my heart. Loud. It was too loud. The pounding in my ears should have warned me, but I clenched the phone closer.
“C’mon, it’ll be fun….The entire summer.” I recognized that voice, the little sing-song that bounced every word from octave to octave. “Meet me at the Charleston airport …next Friday …I’ll pay for everything …no worries.”
I pushed my damp bangs from my forehead. “Mandy …is this you?” My words quivered, but a rush of relief washed over me. We’d lost touch with each other. Hadn’t talked in years and it was good to hear from her.
“Good grief, girl, who’d ya think it was …the Pope?”
I ignored the clamoring of my heart since I couldn’t reach in and slow it down. “I …I don’t know….You had me thinkin’ all kindsa weird things. Didn’t sound the same.”
The phone clicked—the buzz of the dial tone tickling my ear.
So, today, cold water bottle in hand, taking long swigs to chase away the dryness that etches my throat, I concentrate on breathing in and out to quell the nerves battling it out in my stomach—slowly inhaling and exhaling, my long, deep breaths keeping time in my head.