For a change, I'm not taking you to a journey into one of my copious OUT-files. This is from the book I'm working on. Some of you may remember the blog I wrote about a trip I took to the doll hospital -- that research is what kicked this book.
The book tells the story of three generations of women, all of them haunted by the disappearance of a child forty years ago. A porcelain doll, made by the girl’s mother in the image of that child, may hold the key to finding out what became of her.
In this small excerpt, Lila tells what happened that broke up her marriage and eventually forced her and her daughter (Vanessa) to move back in with Lila's mother (Miss Sorrel).
Miss Sorrel, bless her heart, had reveled in taking care of Vanessa. Maybe it was because having Vanessa there helped Miss Sorrel feel less alone after her husband's death, or maybe it was because Vanessa was four years old, the same age that little Jane had been when she disappeared. With her fine fair hair and pale complexion, Vanessa even resembled Jane.
She’s no trouble at all, Miss Sorrel used to say of Vanessa, even when Vanessa was a surly, hormone-riddled teen. It’s as if God sent her to me.
Of course God had nothing to do with it. It was Charlie who couldn't keep his fly zipped. Lila still stung with humiliation remembering the phone call that ended it. She couldn't even recall why she'd called Charlie at work that day. The receptionist had answered. Charlie was on the phone, she said. Did Lila want to wait? They’d gotten to chatting, as they often did since Charlie’s work had him on the phone most of the day.
“You always sound so nice, Mrs. Applebaum.” The receptionist had said. Lila hadn’t bothered to tell her that she’d never taken Charlie’s last name. Then there’d been a long pause. Later Lila would wonder, had that woman even paused to reconsider what she was about to do, the thing that put a hairpin turn in Vanessa’s life? “I can connect you now,” she’d said, a little too cheerily, it seemed in retrospect.
Then “Mmmmm.” Lila heard a woman's soft, warm voice. “We’ll have to try that. Sounds. . . exciting.” Lila had felt herself flush and she almost hung up, thinking there'd been a mistake -- like she'd pushed open the door to a bathroom stall that someone was using.
She realized there'd been no mistake because the chuckling she heard was oh so familiar. Then, the voice she knew by heart. “Maybe some time this weekend? I’ll call you. I miss you, too, Honey Buns. ”
Honey Buns? She’d stared, open-mouthed at the receiver. Honey Buns was Charlie’s pet name for Lila. Later she laughed about it -- always knew the guy hadn’t an original thought in his pea brain. But at the time, she’d found herself on her knees, doubled over and sobbing, the receiver on the floor beside her.
And a little insider info: this situation, where a telephone operator (remember them?) plugs her boss's wife into a phone call that ends their marriage, really happened to a friend of mine... who shall go unnamed.
You'll have to wait 18 months or thereabouts to get your hands on the book. But this time I DO know how it ends. Or I think I do.
Today's question: Has a telephone mix-up ever put crimp in your life?