all know what it's like to get that phone call in the middle of the night.
This night's call was no different. Jerking up to the ringing summons, I
focused on the red illuminated numbers of my clock. Midnight. Panicky thoughts
filled my sleep-dazed mind as I grabbed the receiver. "Hello?"
pounded, I gripped the phone tighter and eyed my husband, who was now turning
to face my side of the bed."Mama?" I could hardly hear the whisper over
the static. But my thoughts immediately went to my daughter. When the desperate
sound of a young crying voice became clearer on the line, I grabbed for
my husband and squeezed his wrist.
I know it's late. But don't...don't say anything, until I finish. And before
you ask, yes, I've been drinking. I nearly ran off the road a few miles
in a sharp shallow breath, released my husband and pressed my hand against
my forehead. Sleep still fogged my mind, and I attempted to fight back
the panic. Something wasn't right.
I got so scared. All I could think about was how it would hurt you if a
policeman came to your door and said I'd been killed. I want...to come
home. I know running away was wrong. I know you've been worried sick. I
should have called you days ago, but I was afraid...afraid..."
of deep-felt emotion flowed from the receiver and poured into my heart.
Immediately I pictured my daughter's face in my mind and my fogged senses
seemed to clear. "I think -"
Please let me finish! Please!" She pleaded,
so much in anger, but in desperation. I paused
and tried to think what to say. Before I
go on, she continued. "I'm pregnant, Mama. I know I shouldn't be drinking
now...especially now, but I'm scared, Mama. So scared!"
voice broke again, and I bit into my lip, feeling my own eyes fill with
moisture. I looked at my husband who sat silently mouthing, "Who is it?"
I shook my head and when I didn't answer, he jumped up and left the room,
returning seconds later with the portable phone held to his ear.
must have heard the click on the line because she continued, "Are you still
there? Please don't hang up on me! I need you. I feel so alone."
the phone and stared at my husband, seeking guidance. "I'm here, I wouldn't
hang up," I said."I should have told you, Mama. I know I should have told
you. But when we talk, you just keep telling me what I should do. You read
all those pamphlets on how to talk about sex and all, but all you do is
don't listen to me. You never let me tell you how I feel. It is as
if my feelings aren't important. Because you're my mother you think you
have all the answers. But sometimes I don't need answers. I just want someone
to listen."I swallowed the lump in my throat and stared at the how-to-talk-to-your-kids
pamphlets scattered on my nightstand. "I'm listening," I whispered.
know, back there on the road, after I got the car under control, I started
thinking about the baby and taking care of it. Then I saw this phone booth,
and it was as if I could hear you preaching about how people shouldn't
drink and drive. So I called a taxi. I want to come home.""That's good,
Honey," I said, relief filling my chest.
came closer, sat down beside me and laced his fingers through mine. I knew
from his touch that he thought I was doing and saying the right thing.
you know, I think I can drive now." "No!" I snapped. My muscles stiffened,
and I tightened the clasp on my husband's hand. "Please, wait
the taxi. Don't hang up on me until the taxi gets there."
want to come home, Mama." "I know. But do this for your mama. Wait for
the taxi, please."
to the silence in fear. When I didn't hear her answer, I bit into my lip
and closed my eyes. Somehow I had to stop her from driving.
the taxi, now."Only when I heard someone in the background asking about
a Yellow Cab did I feel my tension easing."I'm coming home, Mama." There
was a click, and the phone went silent.
from the bed, tears forming in my eyes, I walked
out into the hall and went to stand in my sixteen-year-old daughter's room.
The dark silence hung thick. My husband came from behind, wrapped his arms
around me and rested his chin on the top of my head.I wiped the tears from
my cheeks. "We have to learn to listen," I said to him.
me around to face him. "We'll learn. You'll
see." Then he took me into his arms, and I buried my head in his shoulder.I
let him hold me for several moments, then I pulled back and stared back
at the bed. He studied me for a second, then asked, "Do you think she'll
ever know she dialed the wrong number?"
at our sleeping daughter, then back at him. "Maybe it wasn't such a wrong
number." "Mom, Dad, what are you doing?" The muffled young voice came from
under the covers. I walked over to my daughter, who now sat up staring
into darkness. "We're practicing," I answered."Practicing what?" she mumbled
and laid back on the mattress, her eyes already closed in slumber."Listening,"
I whispered and brushed a hand over her cheek.
text written by Christie Craig