By Melissa L. Webb
Three days ago, I made a terrible mistake. It was an honest one that anybody would have made. I know that. If time could rewind, I know I would do it the same way. I can’t be blamed for my actions, but I can still suffer from them. I made a mistake that altered my life. I answered the phone.
I didn’t recognize the number when my cell phone rang. I wasn’t surprised by that. I get a lot of calls from people I don’t know. That’s what happens when you run your own business. There was absolutely no hesitation as I answered it, but the sobbing on the other end did give me pause.
I was speechless as my mind whirled with images of people who might be hurt or worse. That was the only reason I could imagine for this call. But when she spoke, I realized I didn’t know this crying woman. She was just a stranger weeping into my ear.
“I’m so sorry to bother you,” she told me through tears. “But I need to talk to someone; to tell them this and it can’t be anyone I know.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. How could I turn away this woman when she was so distraught? So with a sigh, I spoke, “What can I do for you?”
“Just listen, please. That’s all I ask. Just listen to what I have to tell you, it will only take a minute.”
I reluctantly agreed. She took a deep breath and began to tell me about a conversation she had the other day. A woman had stopped her on the street, asking if she could spare a moment. This woman needed to speak to her. She told her a story of how she had been asked to hear a tale of woe from a stranger and every since she had, her life had been a nightmare.
This stranger on the street told her she was having nightmares; that her luck had changed for the worse, and she was being stalked by some unseen thing. She was sure some negative force had entered her life and now she feared for herself and those she loved.
The weeping woman on the other end of my phone took a shuddered breath. “I told her I didn’t know what to do for her. She said it was okay, just telling me this would be enough to help her. She just needed to tell someone. She walked away from me then. It was the strangest conversation I ever had,” she whispered to me. “But I didn’t think anything more about it. It was just someone with problems.”
I took a deep breath. I could understand that. “Is there a point to this?” I asked.
“It’s happening to me,” she sobbed. “I’m having nightmares. I lost my job. Everywhere I look something is going wrong. And…” She stopped, letting the silence surround us.
I couldn’t help myself. “What?”
“Something is following me. I feel it,” she told me. “I’m never alone anymore.” She was silent once more and then let out a deep sob. “I’m sorry. I just randomly picked you. I had to tell someone. I’m so sorry, but this has to stop.”
The phone clicked sharply as she hung up. I didn’t know what to make of the story I had just heard. I shoved it to the back of my mind and went on with my life. I should have taken what she said to heart.
It’s started now. The bad luck and the nightmares, I have both of them. The unseen force? It’s here, too. I feel its breath on the back of my neck even as I write this. It’s watching and waiting, looking for the next person to be infected by this story.
This tale is no longer my burden. I have finished writing it and you have read it, so I am free. My only thought now is, “Who will you call tonight?”
© 2011 Melissa L. Webb
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