The gift in the phonebooth
A short story inspired by a photograph
I can look at this wall for hours. The sunlight that falls through old windows paints beautiful, softly colored stripes on the wall. Whenever the light changes there are different shadows. And then the colors, they are never really the same it seems.
A while ago I hung a faceted crystal in front of the window. Sunlight was scattered across the wall in millions of lights, like stars in a cloudless sky. It was a fascinating spectacle. But, now I’ve put the crystal away. I need a quiet wall. With the simple lines of the shadows. Only the soft tones of the glass as the sunlight falls through the window.
Most of the time my thoughts calm down when I sit and watch for a while. Now I feel that too. All the things I still need to do fade into the background. The rapid speed of thoughts, ideas and feelings is slowly calming down, as if I switched from a high speed train to a steamtrain. I let the landscape in my head pass me by. I imagine the rhythmic sound of the wheels on the track. With a deep sigh I let all the tension slip away from me.
Then I see an image beginning to appear in the interplay of colors and lines on the white wall in front of me … It looks like a path, meandering along a stream. I get off the steamtrain and stand directly on the bank of the stream. On a whim, I take off my shoes and start walking. I enjoy the coolness, the bright sun is blocked by the canopy of the trees around me.
I keep following the glistening water of the stream. Here too, the sunlight creates a beautiful spectacle of sun and shadows. Here and there I see an open space. I would love to stop there, for a picnic, but I feel I have to walk on for a while. After the path suddenly makes a sharp bend, to my amazement I suddenly see an old telephone booth. A thick branch of the old tree next to it sticks right through it.
“I think there is a light on in that phone booth,” I remark in amazement. “Would it still be working then?” As I walk towards it, a squirrel darts away right in front of my feet. “Did you also just make a phone call?” I chuckle. Then I open the door of the phone booth, which fortunately goes smoothly. The branch has grown right through the sides of the cell, not through the door. To my surprise, I find a cell phone leaning on a wooden plank. “Well, that will work too I guess,” I mumble, even though I’m still a bit disappointed that I didn’t find one of those cool old-fashioned rotary dial telephones.
Before I can think of who to call, the cell phone starts ringing. “Ha, still a bit old-fashioned,” I laugh. I take the call, wondering who it will be.
“We’ve received your order,” I hear from the other end. “You will receive your gift by mail delivery.” The connection is immediately terminated. I stare at the screen for a moment. I can’t remember ordering anything. Again I hear ringing, it’s a different tone. It takes a while before I realize there’s a knock at the door.
I quickly jump up to open the door. There is a delivery man with a large bouquet of flowers. “Mrs. Peters?” I nod and the flowers are given to me. “Have a nice day,” he greets and walks back to his van.
I close the door and slowly walk back to my room, looking for a card. A small wooden clip keeps it attached to one of the petals of a large pink peony.
“Dear friend, just a little present for you. I think of you a lot and I’m sorry I can’t visit you more often. Soon I will be able to travel again and then I will come to stay. Love and a hug. Jet.”
With tears in my eyes I sink into the chair by the white wall. The image of the telephone booth in the woods by the stream comes back to me again. “Order received said that voice…” In recent weeks I have indeed thought about Jet a few times and wished to myself that she could come by again soon.
“Thank you for this wonderful gift,” I say out loud. “I couldn’t have wished for anything better.” On the white wall, the spectacle of the soft colors appears again because of the sun that suddenly starts to shine.
Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/9KqB3BuIOLs