Dead Line

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The house phone rang and because I was hard at work editing my magazine, I picked it up on auto.

‘Hello?’ I spoke.

‘Good afternoon, Mrs Guilding,’ an man with a heavy Indian accent spoke.

I frowned into the phone. A cold caller for sure. I carried on typing away, too busy to stop.

The voice continued speaking without seeming to pause for breath, ‘my name is Kevin and I am calling you from the Peoples’ Life Survey. May I ask you some household questions? It’ll only take a few minutes of your time.’

‘Sorry, I’m not interested…’ I cut in.

‘Please, Mrs. I shall make it as quick as possible,’ Kevin voice’s rushed.

I sighed. I didn’t have time for this. I went to say goodbye and hang up the phone but Kevin bet me to speaking.

‘Don’t worry!’ he said.

Then the line went dead.

Puzzled, I took my phone from my ear before pressing it back again. The dial tone beeped like a steady heartbeat. I hit the end call button and placed the phone down. I could get on with my editing again.

A strange feeling crept over me. My mind began turning over those words and making them into some sinister.

I stopped working and got up. I had been sat for about four hours. Now, my body became awake. I had to use the bathroom and get a drink, maybe some food. Walking past the window, I peered out through the blinds. Everything looked normal out there. I walked out of the study, went to the bathroom then the kitchen.

Whilst I was making coffee and a sandwich, the phone rang again.

Ah! Kevin. We must have just got cut off. There’s nothing weird going on.

I picked up the kitchen phone, fully expecting to hear his voice again. Instead all I got was a beeping sound followed by white noise.

I checked the phone out, wondering if it was something wrong with my line. Placing the phone back, I picked it up again. The dial tone was just as steady as before. Shrugging, I finished making my late lunch and went into the conservatory to eat it.

The glass room was warm and comforting. The pale walls and wicker furniture give it a summer feel though looking outside the weather had decided to rain today. Settling into the sofa, I listened to the wind and rain outside, relaxing into the silence.

The phone rang. I had sandwich in my mouth. Swallowing, I got up and answered the phone.

‘Hello?’ I spoke.

The line was fuzzy was static.

A voice broke through, ‘Kevin…The Peoples’ Life Survey…I ask you question?’

‘I’m sorry. The line is really bad,’ I responded.

‘Make it quick, yes,’ Kevin shouted.

‘No. Bye.’

I hung up the phone.

When I had finished lunch, I sat for a few more minutes and watched the rain fall. Kevin was still on my mind. What was that all about? I glanced at the phone. Willing it to ring, so I could asked him.

The phone stayed silent for the rest of the day.

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Call Waiting

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I was always waiting on the phone. It seemed it was the way of my life.

Mystery Love

black-and-white, coffee, couple

I don’t know how it happened really. The coffee shop was busy again, just like it had been on Friday and there was no where else to sit but next to him!

She sat down next to me, muttering, ‘excuse me,’ and clutching her bag and coffee mug. I shuffled to the side, trying hard not to look at her. I had admired her from a far for so long and now she was next to me!

‘I’m sorry,’ I said, ‘It’s busy here today.’

‘Yes, it is. Must be the weather,’ he responded.

I nodded and tried to keep my eyes off him. But they kept wondering back towards his dark hair and nicely shaped chin.

She was looking at me and I was trying so hard to avoid her. However, our eyes finally met. She smiled, a small one at first then she tucked a strand of red hair behind her ear and smiled wider.

‘I like your hair. It’s really red,’ I spoke.

‘It’s natural,’ she responded, ‘I like your hair too.’

Then she giggled and settled back on the plush sofa. She picked up her coffee, but it must have been too hot because she placed it down again.

He was watching me and I was trying to be all casual, but I could feel it wasn’t working. I wanted to say something, act all chatting and hide my crush for him. The words didn’t want to form but as the silence stretched I knew I had to say something.

‘Terrible weather,’ I said.

‘It really is. I think the news said it was a storm. It’s meant to snow later,’ he replied.

‘Yes, I saw that too. I really hope it doesn’t snow!’ I cried.

‘Why?’ he asked.

I thought a moment before answering, ‘I don’t mind it, I just don’t like being in it. I guess that’s how most people feel. What about you?’

He shrugged, ‘I don’t mind it either way.’

She looked away, out at the steaming up windows and the rain dripping down. I looked down at my phone and began flicking through things, not really interested in anything. I wanted to ask her questions, but I couldn’t do it. Maybe more small talk would help? But I didn’t know what else to say.

The silence grew again. She noticed it and started talking again.

‘You know, I’ve seen you before.’

‘In here?’ I asked.

She nodded, ‘I’ve been trying to figure you out. But I guess you must really like the coffee here or something.’

She laughed and her cheeks flushed. She was embarrassed. She turned away, looking at the people, the windows, the art on the walls, anything other then me.

‘Actually….’ I began and trailed.

He spoke and I turned back to him, fussing with my hair and scolding myself for saying something stupid. He didn’t seem to have noticed though. He was looking thoughtful now and picking over his words.

‘The coffee is rather good here,’ he announced.

I nodded and picked my mug up. I was having a hot chocolate today and it was still too warm to drink.

‘But there is another reason…’ he said, ‘you.’

I frowned and looked at him, not sure I’d heard him right.

‘Me?’ I questioned.

‘Yes. Do you think sometime, if you are free, you’d like to go on a date with me?’ he asked, shyly.

I smiled and nodded, ‘yes, I’d really like that.’

Mystery Girl

Portrait of Woman Photographing With Smart Phone

Was she late or had I missed her? I sat down and searched the coffee shop for her once again. Of her lovely long red hair there was no sign between other people’s heads. The chattering voices were loud today as the weather was bad and people were seeking warmth.

The door opened, letting in high street noise and the sound of the rain. I looked up and there she was, hurrying to join the queue. She folded her umbrella away and took down the hood of her coat. Her hair was dull today, but I didn’t mind that.

I sneaked glances then when she got a coffee, she squeezed in at a table close by. We always seemed to sit close to one another. Sometimes, I or she would do it on purpose, even if we were the only people in here, we’d pick spots a little away from each other. Other times though, our closeness seemed be coincidence.

She started looking around and I dropped my head to my phone. I couldn’t meet her deep green eyes, but I knew with a look between my eyelashes that she had spotted me.

When she finally turned away, I fixed my gaze on her and that was the start of our looking game.

Mystery Man

Brown Long Haired Man in Black Jacket Sitting in Front of White Coffee Cup and Phone

I placed my coffee mug down and casually looked over at him. He was sat two tables away to my right, head down looking at his phone. I couldn’t read his face from that angle.

Who are you? I thought.

I lent back, trying like I always did to catch his eye, but he never looked at me. Or if he did I never saw him.

We were often in this coffee shop together. Over the months, I had noticed he had a pattern just like me; Saturday mornings, Friday late afternoons and Wednesday lunchtimes. He would get a medium or large coffee, the type differed, just like mine did. Then he would sit and drink his coffee whilst looking at his phone.

I had never seen him with a laptop or a book. Nor did meet up with anyone else. He always alone. Strangely, we seemed to sit close by each other, no matter who was here first or how busy the coffee shop was.

A part of me had sometimes wonder if he was stalking me or if this was some kind of set up but I had found no evidence of anything. It just seemed to be a big coincidence.

And yet, I had a feeling that something else was going on.

Monday Depression

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Harley didn’t feel like getting up this morning but she had done so anyway. Dragging herself out of her cosy warm bed, she headed straight for the bathroom, her stomach growling like an angry bear. Sitting down on the loo, she wondered how many times she had got up in the night to come into here driven by an IBS flare up as punishment of eating too much ice cream. She counted to four before the ringing of the house phone interrupted.

I’m not going to get it. It’s only going to be a cold caller, she thought.

Trying to ignore it, Harley yawed and wondered if she could go back to bed even though it was three minutes past eleven am.

A little dog’s yowling broke though her thoughts and with a growl, she sorted herself out and went to answer the phone.

‘Hello?’

‘Is that the bus station? I’ve left my library books on the seventeen bus,’ an elderly man’s voice spoke out.

Harley rolled her eyes before answering, ‘I’m sorry but it’s not. You have the wrong number.’

‘There were five books,’ the man continued, ‘The Queen’s Slave, Goldfish Keeping For All, Weave Looming And You, -‘

‘I’m sorry but-‘ Harley tried to cut in but the man carried on speaking over her.

London Werewolves and Whenever The Rain Falls Think Of Me,’ the man concluded.

‘What?’

‘They were in a bag for life. You know, the yellow ones with orange elephants on?’

‘This isn’t the bus station!’ Harley shouted, ‘you have the wrong number!’

‘Oh. I’m sorry….Do you know the right number?’ the man asked.

‘No. I don’t,’ Harley snapped and hung up.

Placing the phone down, she wondered what was going on with the crossed over numbers. A cold wet nose and a small licking tongue touched her bare toes and Harley jumped with a cry. She looked down and saw the tiny Yorkshire terrier give a startled yip and jumped back too.

‘Sorry, Yogi,’ Harley spoke and scooped the dog up, ‘just some people…’

Carrying the Yorkie upstairs, Harley set him down on her single bed then went to her wardrobe. Just as she had selected her clothes for the day; old blue jeans, black long sleeved top with a painted wolf angel on it, her Five Finger Death Punch hoodie and boot slippers, the phone rang again. Tutting, she left it to ring until Yogi pulled his head up and let out a mournful yowl.

Racing downstairs, Harley snatched the phone up again.

‘Hello?’

‘Is that the bus station? I’ve lost my library books,’ the same man’s voice from before came though the phone.

‘You have the wrong number again,’ Harley said.

‘Oh…’

‘I’m sorry but I really can’t help you. Try ringing a different number,’ she added then hung up.

Heading up to her room, she finished off getting dressed then picked up Yogi again. The tiny dog had been making a nest in her bedding. Going downstairs, Harley set him down on his own bed and went into the kitchen. There was a large puddle of water on the floor with a white scum on top of it.

‘Yogi! Did you do this?’ Harley called, ‘bad dog!’

Grabbing a tea towel, she began to mop the floor. Then though she noticed the far spread of the puddle because it filled the square space between the fridge-freezer, dishwasher, sink of the narrow kitchen. Also it was very close to Yogi’s bowls.

Puzzling and no longer thinking the dog had done this, Harley inspected the fridge-freezer, sink and dishwasher. Everything seemed okay. She went upstairs and got an old towel from the cupboard. Setting it on the floor, she saw drips coming out of the corner of the dishwasher.

‘Great,’ she mumbled then added, ‘I’m sorry Yogi. It wasn’t you!’

Getting up, she went to find the dog but the phone rang. Throwing her hands up, Harley went to answer it.

‘Hello?’

‘Hello dear. My husband his left some books on the bus. I was wondering if you could help us?’ an elderly woman’s voice asked.

Harley sighed deeply and brushed her hair back, ‘I’m sorry,’ she said trying to stay calm, ‘but this isn’t the bus station. You have the wrong number. This is a private house.’

‘Ah, I’m terribly sorry about that. Goodbye,’ the old woman said.

The phone clicked and Harley hung it up again. Going into the living room, she give some reassurance to Yogi then went into the kitchen and made some toast with jam on. Sitting down, she watched some TV, channel flicking between a house D.I.Y show and a famous courtroom drama. Though she had to get up a couple of times to use the bathroom.

Taking her breakfast things into the kitchen, Harley noticed that the dishwasher was leaking badly. The towel she had set down had a large half circle ring across it. Opening the door and breaking off the washing cycle, she looked inside and move a few plates and pans around. Dirty water fell out of the corner like a small waterfall.

Closing the door again, she waited as the dishwasher started again. However, water still dripped from the corner.

‘Dad will have to fix that,’ Harley spoke.

Leaving it and going to her computer, she pressed the on button and also turned the monitor on. Whilst she waited, she looked at a calendar on her desk. Under today, she had written; write chapter 23. working at shop- 5-11pm. 

Harley’s face fell, she had forgotten she was working. She doubled checked on the calendar in her phone and confirmed it. Sighing, she noticed the computer was done loading and clicked open the draft of her novel. She had barely started reading the last few pages when the phone rang.

‘I’m not answer it!’ she called.

Yogi began howling in the living room.

‘I mean it,’ she growled.

Letting the phone ring off and Yogi’s long yowling faded away, Harley got back to her novel. She reached the last page with writing on it and tapped down to the blank one underneath. Looking at the page, she tried hard to think.

The phone rang.

‘Seriously!’ she cried.

Harley got up and answered the phone.

‘Hello?’

‘Is that the bus station? My parents have lost some books,’a young man’s voice asked.

‘No. It’s not and I don’t know why they keep ringing my phone number,’ Harley moaned.

‘I’m sorry. There must be a problem with the line. It’s fine. I’ll go down to the bus station and sorted it. Thanks, bye.’

Harley set the phone down and rubbed her eyes.

‘That’s it! I’m going back to bed!’ Harley declared.

Up and Up

black-and-white, building, escalators

Mini got onto the escalator without thinking as looked at her phone. The screen was blank and the thing would not turn on. She tried holding down the button for a few seconds then letting go, but still nothing happened. Sighing, she pocketed the phone.

Feeling herself being carried upwards, Mini looked across at the down heading escalator. No one seemed to be on it. Thinking that was odd, she looked over her shoulder and saw a flow of people walking the street. She could not hear their voices or their footsteps though.

Turning back, she looked upwards and realised she was alone. Shrugging and trying to think nothing of it, Mini got out her phone again. Turning it over, she went to undo the back of it, but her feet lurched, threatening to throw her downwards. She gripped the hand rail and steadied herself. Letting go of the breath that had caught in her throat, she glanced around to make sure no one had seen that then shook her head.

Getting back to her phone, she poked her finger nails into the small outline at the back and tried to flip the cover. It didn’t seem to want to give. Trying again, she dug her nails in and pulled up. The back panel give way slightly. Tutting, she glanced upwards and saw the escalator still had a way to go.

Mini turned the phone the other way and wrestled the panel off. Placing it under the phone, she started taking the memory card, sim and battery out. Juggling all the parts, she then fitted them in again, but they did not seem to want to go back in. Letting out a growl and wonder why it always had to be her, she jammed the battery back in then went for the sim.

The tiny, thin card slipped from her fingers. Letting out a gasp, she bent down and scrambled after it. The sim landed on the step behind her and Mini followed it. Picking it up, she looked around, worried someone had just seen that. However, there was still no one there and now the people on the street had all but disappeared.

Mini straightened, put the sim card back in and placed the memory one next to it. Slotting the back panel in place again, she turned the phone over and on. Keeping her eyes glued to the screen, she felt the vibrations of the escalator still under her feet. The screen blinked on. Smiling, she looked about again.

‘What’s going on?’ she muttered.

Switching her frown to a smile, Mini wondered if she had missed an out of order sign or if she was just being paranoid. Something was bugging her though and she had never known these escalators to be empty like this before. The beeping drew her attention and she looked down at her phone.

The battery was dead. The phone went off.

Letting out a desperate cry and putting the phone into her bag, Mini fought to rein herself in. Calming her breathing to almost match the steady movement of the escalator, she shut her eyes. For a few moments, she thought she was floating upwards and that idea helped to calm her more.

Opening her eyes again, she saw that there were now three escalators. Confused, she looked harder, trying to disprove it, but there was another downward heading one next to the original.

Have there always been three? she wondered, maybe I just never noticed before?

Puzzling, she watched the third set of moving stairs trundling downwards. Deciding that her lack of attention must be to blame, she looked up again. The metal, grill steps stretched before her, seemly never to end. Though, they must do at some point. Mini fell into wondering if they had always taken so long then she was pitched forward.

Scrambling to steady herself, Mini tried to reach for the handrail, but it seemed to grow taller and out of her reach. Panicking, she prepared for the impact, but it never came. Instead, the escalator seemed to fall with her. A loud whistling went off in her ears then disembodied voices suddenly filled the silence she had been in.

Mini covered her ears, the sound so violent to her. Trembling, she tried to get to her feet, but she seemed unable to as the steps had now flattened to one straight line and were hurtling downwards. As her brain tried to work out what was happening, Mini dropped her hands and tried to touch any part of the escalator. Some kind of barrier was stopping her though.

She tried to focus in on the disembodied voices, but she could not figure out what they were saying. It was like the roaring sound of a waterfall, you could hear it, but not pick anything out from it. Mini tried to stand again and this time made it. She looked around, but she seemed to be in some kind of empty space, just made up of different colours.

Mini dug her phone out, thinking to call for help. The screen was still blank and the device did not want to turn on. Wondering what to do, she noticed the other two escalators had also become flat along side her own, but they were both going in the opposite direction.

An idea came to her.

Taking in a deep breath and not thinking about it any further, Mini threw her bag over the railing and onto the original downward heading escalator. Scrambling over after it, she was glad she’d worn pants today. The handrail, squealed under her, but then she was over and chasing after her bag.

Grabbing it, she clutched it to her and let the moving stairs carry her back again. Soon they de-flattened out, becoming normal again. The metal grill steps rose around her, inviting her to go down them as they formed. Mini took a few steps then stopped. The other two escalators were also reforming as if nothing had happened.

Breathing deeply, she willed this craziness to be over some how. Mini shut her eyes, dragged in deep breaths and hugged her bag harder. Opening her eyes again, she saw a slice of yellow light and the blurry movement of people.

‘Almost safe,’ she uttered.

Not looking back or in fact anywhere else, she kept her focus on the light and people. Finally, she saw the street level again and unable to wait any longer, she hurried onward. Stepping off the escalator, the street was bright and welcoming. People hurried on their ways, talking loudly and seemingly ignoring her.

Mini heard a clicking noise. A part of her wanted to turn, but the other part of her did not. Clutching her bag still, she peeked over her shoulder and saw the escalators has stopped. Turning fully, she saw the out of order signs sticking out of and around the moving steps.

‘Explains why no one else was using them…’ Mini said under her breath.

‘Ya okay there, love?’ a strange, male voice said at her elbow.

Mini looked over and saw a beast of a man wearing a yellow high viability jacket and carrying a huge tool box.

‘Yeah, erm….it’s broke,’ she replied then realised how dumb that was.

‘We know, came to fix it,’ he replied.

‘No I mean…’ Mini trailed off and looked upwards.

She could clearly see the top of all three escalators and the floor they were attracted too above.

‘Huh?’ the man scratched his head.

‘Something happened…it was weird…I…’

‘Ya go up there?’

‘What? No, no,’ Mini spoke, she shook her head quickly and began backing away.

‘Stairs are there,’ the man pointed out.

Mini bit her lip, give a nod of her head and turned away. Starting to walk though, she stole some glances over her shoulder and watched the men began their task. Her mind thundered with unanswerable questions, what an earth had just happened?

Cold Calling

Phone, Dial, Old, Arrangement, Nostalgic, Nostalgia

The phone was ringing again. Sallie put the pillow over her head, pressing it down over her ears. She breathed deeply, listening to her harsh breaths and the only slightly muffled sound of the phone. She counted slowly, trying to remember how many times it had rung today. She reach six then stopped.

Tossing the pillow aside, she got up and stormed down the hallway of the bungalow. she snatched the phone up from its living room stand and answered it.

‘Hello?’

‘Miss Pearman?’ a too cheery male voice asked.

‘Yes’?

‘Did you know you could be owned money on your PPI?’

Sallie sighed, ‘I’m not interesting, please remove my number from your list.’

She hung up and took the phone back  into the bedroom with her. Settling down again, she wondered how she was going to get enough sleep for her night shift at the hospital tonight.

The phone ran again.

She eyed it and thought about unplugging it. Instead, she picked it up and asked, ‘who is it was this time?’

‘We’re looking at replacing windows and doors in your area right now,’ a loud female voice spoke, ‘would you be interested in a quote?’

‘No thanks. Please remove my number and stop calling me,’ Sallie snapped and hung up.

She put the phone on the bedside table and tried to get back to sleep again. She muttered to herself about the terrible people. Just as she was dozing off again, the phone rang for a third time. Sallie opened her eyes and looked over. Wondering if suddenly the word had got out that she was  answering her phone.

She answered and pressed the phone to her ear.

‘Hello? an Indian accented woman asked.

‘What you want?’ Sallie asked, sleepy.

‘Madam, I’m from Windows tech support and your computer has been sending us messages that it has a virus. Can you please turn your PC on so I can help you sort this problem out?’

‘That’s it!’ Sallie yelled.

She hung up, threw the duvet away and stomped down the hallway. Spotting the phone plug at the wall near the door, she pulled it out.

‘There! that should stop all you cold callers!’ She cried.

Date #2

Woman, Art, Creative, Relaxation, Girl, Gallery

Standing at the train station, I checked my phone for the hundredth time. Still no texts or calls even though the arrival board said his train was due in a few minutes. I tapped my phone to my lips and looked at the forever changing list of destinations and times. Then my phone pinged and I hurriedly checked it.

Here, the text message read.

I looked around, trying to recall his photos on the dating website. He had glasses and dark hair, I think. And a wonky smile, at least it had looked that way.

My phone pinged again. Where R U? 

Glancing around, I texted back, Outside W .S. Smith’s.

Then moving towards it, I lent against the window and looked hard at the people passing me by. It was hard to pick a single face out from the crowd as everyone was moving quickly. A man in  a business suit carrying a briefcase strolled by as if on some important mission. A tried looking middle aged woman dragged her crying child behind her whilst pulling a suitcase in the other hand. A group of chatting teenagers flapped by, their colourful clothes a nice difference amongst the normal blacks, whites, blues and greys of the workers.

I saw him. Or at least it seemed to be him. Standing outside another shop, looking confused and checking his phone. He did have short black hair and large glasses on. I debated going over and ran though what I’d say if it wasn’t him in my head. Pulling a face, I risked it and walked over.

‘Ben?’ I said.

He looked up, ‘yes?’

‘Harriet. Nice to meet you,’

‘Yeah, erm you too,’ he uttered.

‘Let’s go. I thought we’d take the free bus some of the way and the rest is only a short walk to the art gallery,’ I explained.

‘Sure.’

I paused, having heard his tone of voice.

‘Or we can do something else if you want? There’s lots to do in Manchester,’ I added with a smile.

He shook his head and rubbed his fingers over the screen of his phone, ‘It’s fine, whatever you want to do.’

‘Are you sure?’

He looked at me properly for the first time and sighed deeply, ‘To be honest I thought you were going to be a man.’

‘Huh?

He shrugged then ran a hand through his hair.

‘Why would you…?’ I trailed, not sure what to even think.

‘You know what the internet is like. Anyway, I’m glad you’re not.’

‘Erm…thanks, I guess, mmmm,’ I spoke then we fell into silence.

Around us everyone still seemed to be in a hurry to either get to a train or get out off the station. It remind me of the sea and waves rolling back and forth. I saw more business people, groups of young people and families each locked in their own world with only their destination on their minds.

‘I’m just glad that’s all,’ Ben suddenly said.

‘What?’ I asked turning back to him.

‘About not being a man…I’m glad you turned out to be you.’

I shook my head slightly, still feeling confused about this whole conversation.

‘So…’ he muttered.

‘Oh, yeah, the bus. Come on,’ I gushed.

Turning, I walked out of the station and he had to double step to keep my pace. A part of me wonder if I should ditch him right now. Could I make up some story he’d believe on the spot? I had a headache? I felt sick? My gran was locked out of her house and I was the only one close with a spare key?

The bus was at the stop awaiting us and I just couldn’t say anything to him. We joined the three people queuing to get on. I held my hands together, toying with my ring. There was something comforting about the feel of the ring against my skin.

I looked at him and realised he was a head shorter then me. He was wearing a plain green polar shirt and jeans. He was also playing with his phone again and it looked like was texting someone. He was probably telling whoever it was the good news that I wasn’t a man!

We got on the bus and sat awkwardly down together. I thought about grilling him about his past girlfriends or if he’d meet up with anyone else from the dating website yet. I tossed my wheat coloured hair back off my shoulder and looked down at him. Ben was still looking at his phone, now checking a social media site.

‘So, is this your first time in Manchester?’ I asked.

He nodded, but didn’t looked up.

‘And…did you get here okay? Was the train busy?’ I  added.

He shrugged, ‘it was okay, I guess.’

I pressed my lips together and waited for him to ask me something. When he didn’t, I looked out of the window and watched the city centre going by. The stop we wanted couldn’t come soon enough. We got off the bus and I led the way to the roman temple style building. He seemed totally uninterested.

I opened the door of the art galley and walked in. The gentle smell of old paint, dust and cleaning stuff chased away the air pollution. I didn’t stop at the reception desk, but went right up the grand stone staircase. The walls were lined with a large 1800’s paintings, depicting all kind of things. I carried on going, right to the top and into the rooms that were marked 1600’s.

Not bothering to see if he had followed me, I started looking at the paintings. Moving from each in turn after a few moments of taking them in, I sensed he was following me and I wondered if trying to engage him in talk about the paintings would work. I stole a few glances at him and saw he was still looking at his phone. What’s with this guy?

‘What do you think of this one?’ I asked nodding my head to a scene from the Bible.

He looked up at the painting and at me, ‘I don’t believe in any of that,’ he said.

‘Even if you don’t, it’s still interesting to look at,’ I pointed out.

‘I guess…’

‘What art do you actually like?’

He frowned as he thought, ‘any, I don’t mind.’

‘Really?’ I drawled.

He nodded and looked around the room, ‘Maybe not these though…’

I stared at him through narrowed eyes then turning, walked away. I wondered through the other rooms then went downstairs. We walked through some more galleries then I guess he must have found something that interested him. I looked around, not spotting him. Then I checked the room I had just left and he wasn’t there either.

Shrugging, I went to sat down a low wooden bench then decided I needed the bathroom. I looked towards the doorway again and he really wasn’t there. I thought about backtracking and going to find him to tell him. The hell with it. I walked out of the room, into another where there was a sign showing the way to the toilets.

I followed it around the corner, down some steps and into another corner. Just as I had sat down, my phone rang. I dug it out of my bag and looked. He was phoning me! I went to answer, my phone flashed no signal and the call was cut off.

He called again, my phone rang loudly. However, as I went to answer it the same thing happened. I tried to send him a text, but it wasn’t liking that either. Putting my phone in my bag, I went to wash my hands. The phone started ringing again, but I ignored it. my ring tone cut out again.

I walked out of the bathroom and back into the gallery I was in before. He standing in the middle, looking wildly about like a child that had lost his parent.

‘Hi, sorry. Had to nip to the-‘

‘Where did you go? Why didn’t you tell me? I thought you’d left,’ he shouted.

‘It’s okay. I couldn’t find you and I had to got to the loo. I’m sorry,’ I said in a low voice, aware that an older couple were staring and so was a young Japanese woman.

‘You didn’t even bother to find me did you? You could have text me or something. I really thought you’d gone and I told you I don’t know Manchester. Why would you do that?’ he rushed loudly.

‘I had to pee,’ I hissed at him, I grabbed his wrist and tried to led him out of the room.

We were now getting very disapproving looks.

‘Let me go!’ he cried and snatched his arm back, ‘I’ve changed my mind. I want to leave!’

‘Okay, okay,’ I said, ‘that way then,’

I turned and walked out, down the stairs and through the double doors. Standing on the doorstep, the sounds and smells of the city came back to us. I took a few deep breaths and felt the calm of the art gallery leaving me.

‘Which way’s the train station?’ he asked.

‘That way,’ I pointed down the long road which ended in a three way crossing.

‘You’ll have to take me,’ he puffed.

Growling under my breath, I stalked off. Ben followed in my wake. I took him back to the train station, which was just as busy as when we had arrived. Pushing through people, I led him to the timetable board. He looked up, muttering under his breath.

‘See you then,’ I said.

‘Okay,’

‘Get home safe,’ I added.

He mumbled something then said louder, ‘bye’ and walked off into a crowed of school children.

I watched for a few seconds as the world of the train station moved around me. I shut my eyes, took a few deep breaths then headed outside again, glad that it was over.

The Receptionist (Part 2)

Free stock photo of marketing, woman, apple, desk

Emily stayed behind her desk, though her body and mind were eager to get up and go. Pretending to type and look at paperwork, she kept her eyes on the door leading out. She heard the elevator, a few footsteps and passing voices before everything fell silent.

Stealing a last look around, she pulled out her tiny phone again and checked the messages. Nothing flashed on the phone. She closed it and grabbed her voice recorder instead.

‘I don’t think he’s coming back. Time to snoop around his office again. Maybe I can find out why he left,’ she whispered into the mic.

Switching it off and making sure it and the secret phone where in the small pockets of her jacket, she got up. Picking up two files that needed go on to his desk, she walked over and opened the door.

His office looked just like her work space did; spotless. The large glass desk dominated the room and the small white laptop on top was almost unnoticeable. There was a large fake green plant in the right corner next to a row of floor to ceiling windows. Thankfully, the blinds were closed. Two landscape paintings faced each other on the right and left walls, they looked old and expensive.

Emily placed the files on the desk and lifted the laptop. She turned it on with a tap of the screen, remembering seeing him do that once. She sat on his chair, feeling it cushion her back and behind straight away. She smoothed her skirt out and watched the laptop demand a password.

He fingers reached out then she paused. Of course, it would be passworded. She glanced around, pouting her lips, hoping she would spot something that would give her a clue to what the lock was. Her eyes landed on something on the floor she hadn’t noticed before.

Getting up, she walked over and picked it up. It was a napkin from a bar with a number penned on it. Wondering how it got there, she slipped it into her pocket. She walked back to the desk and the wired bin that was next to it.  Emily bent and looked through the scraps of paper and other rubbish.

If anyone comes in, just say you lost an earring, she reminded herself.

She found nothing of interested.Straightening, Emily heard the phone ringing on her desk. Sighing, she walked out and answered it.

‘It’s me. I forgot something,’ her new boss’s voice growled into her ear.

In the background, she could hear traffic and beeping car horns.

‘Oh?’ Emily answered.

‘There’s a paper file, a red one. Do you know where it is?’

‘Yes. I just put it on your desk,’ Emily gushed.

‘Get it and bring to this address,’ her boss uttered then sighed deeply.

Emily snatched up a pen and wrote it down. She nodded into the phone and said, ‘I’ll find someone to bring it to you, right now, sir.’

‘It’ll take you less time to walk there then it will to find someone! And bring my laptop too.’

The phone clicked off. Emily looked at it in her hand then placed it back down. Her mind spun, but she didn’t give it time to develop any of those thoughts. Going back into his office, she grab the red file and his laptop. She went back to her desk and slipped both into her large black fake leather handbag.

She pulled out her recorder, made a quick note then prepared to leave.

   To Be Continued…