Prompt as Hell with KJ and Budgie #11 – The Call

KJ and Budgie give each other writing prompts each Wednesday, and they have to write a piece based on that prompt, no matter what it is. They are not allowed to reveal the prompts in their posts.

This is Prompt as Hell with KJ Marshall and Budgie Bigelow.

Episode 11 – The Call by Budgie Bigelow

****

I was going to be arrested for confessing to a murder I didn’t commit, and I was going to have to accept that. It was a small price to pay to lay Cynthia’s memory to rest. It was closure, and God knew I needed it. The real killer was long gone, and only I remained to put a bow on this whole damn thing. All things considered, it was probably a fitting end.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the paranormal, but I also believe it happens to other people, not me. I lived a normal life, free from spirits of the departed and whatever else existed out there.

I sat in a room that only held a table and a few folding chairs. I expected there to be a two-way mirror like on cop shows, but there were just blank walls of painted brick. I was questioned and left alone. They were in another room talking about me, sizing me for handcuffs or a straight jacket.

I told them what had happened, but I don’t think they believed me. Hell, I barely believed me, but they had found the body right where I said it would be, where Cynthia said she was laid to rest. The officers told me that much at least, but they had left me after that, discussing my future. I had even told them about the phone call.

It was half past midnight, and my house phone was ringing, sending its shrill siren through my silent dwelling. “Who’s calling?” my wife, Sandy, groggily asked from her side of our bed.

“I don’t know,” I said, swinging my feet out of bed. I could tell by Sandy’s tone that she wasn’t going to get up, even though a call this late into the night meant some kind of emergency. I walked down stairs, hoping my daughter wouldn’t wake up. The phone was still ringing when I got to the kitchen. The voicemail service should have picked up by now, but it didn’t. It just kept ringing,

“Hello?” I asked. All I heard was breathing. I was about to burst into a fit of cursing and threats, thinking someone had intended to get my teenage daughter on the phone and pervert them with their creepy prank call. “Who is this?!”

There was a pause, and the breathing was gone. I was about to hang up when I finally heard a voice. “Rich?”

My heart was beating hard, and I thought it was about to leap from my chest. I wasn’t expecting to hear the voice of a young woman saying my name. “Who is this?” I asked again, calmer this time.

“It’s Cynthia,” the voice said, freezing my blood. Cynthia had been dead for over a month.

“This is a bad joke,” I said, my voice soft.

“Listen,” Cynthia said. “I don’t have much time. I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to be somewhere else. Will you help me?”

It was her voice, I knew it. I had been hearing it since the day my daughter and her had become friends at ten years old. But she sounded scared now, terrified. “Tell me where you are,” I said.

Cynthia wasn’t anywhere. I knew this as I entertained her ghost’s request. She had gone missing a month ago, and her older boyfriend, a college dropout named Steve was suspected of murdering her. There was little evidence supporting this theory, but he died himself in a drunk driving accident before they could find Cynthia’s body or come up with any proof he had actually done it.

“I’m by the Mill River,” Cynthia replied. “I’m under a pile of dirt and dead leaves. Steve left me here. I hate it here, Rich. I hate it so much. I just want to go, but I can’t.”

She had called me. Not her parents. Me. Even after what I had done to her, she still had some kind of feeling toward me that wasn’t loathing or spite. Her dating Steve was my idea. I had sent her into his arms, and he had killed her, leaving her in a shallow grave of moist soil and leaves.

“We can’t see each other anymore,” I had told her, sitting in my minivan with her. “What we had done was wrong.”

“It was wrong?” Cynthia said, wiping the tears from her face. “You didn’t think it was wrong to fuck your daughter’s seventeen-year-old friend when we started doing this.”

“It was wrong then too,” I replied. This was the truth, and I knew it. I hadn’t molested or stalked her. What happened happened naturally, and everything we did was consensual. Seventeen is old enough to make your own sexual decisions.

“Aren’t you going to leave your wife like you told me?!” Cynthia pleaded. “By the time the divorce is final I’ll be eighteen, and we can be together. I’m willing to wait for you, Rich. I love you.”

I sighed. I loved her too, of course, but I couldn’t tell her that. It would complicate things if I admitted how much I wanted what she wanted. I didn’t love my wife, not anymore, and I had stupidly fallen in love with a teenager like some kind of middle-aged pervert in a mid-life crisis. Some guys buy expensive cars. I fucked my daughter’s best friend.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m too old for you. You should be with someone your own age. Who’s the guy Tina told me you were hanging out with?”

Cynthia sniffed. “Is that what this is about?” she asked. “Are you jealous of Steve?”

“Do you like him?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Cynthia said, looking away. “I would choose you over him if you asked me.”

“Choose him,” I said, offering her a warm, fatherly smile. “He can make you happy. I can’t do that.”

Cynthia nodded and looked away. She didn’t want that, but she’d take it. She’d date Steve while she was still hung up on me, and it would literally kill her.

There was proof of our short relationship, of course. Tina never knew, but there were texts and calls. I’m sure the police or her parents would find them eventually, and assume the forty-five year old ex-boyfriend was a prime suspect for her murder, and they were stupid for not putting the pieces together before.

I may have been responsible for sending Cynthia to her death, but I didn’t murder her. I knew that girl since she was ten years old, and I never wanted anything bad to ever happen to her.

“What are you two girls up to?” I asked, spotting my daughter and a friend in the front yard, building a snowman. I had left work early because of the snow, and it looked like I wasn’t the only one home early.

“School was closed!” Tina exclaimed, happy as a ten-year-old can be, playing in the snow rather than at school. She ran toward me with her friend.

“Who’s your new friend?” I asked.

“Cynthia!” Tina exclaimed with a huge smile. “Mommy said we can play until her mommy can come get her. We’re gonna have hot cocoa too!”

“I see,” I said. I held out my hand, and Cynthia giggled as she shook it. “Pleased to meet you, Cynthia.”

Not to be left out, Tina shook my hand next, and the pair broke out in a fit of giggles. “I don’t have snowpants, so I’m going in,” I said.

“Bye, daddy!” Tina said.

“Bye, Mister Smith,” Cynthia said.

“Call me Rich,” I said, offering one more smile before I went inside to get out of the cold.

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