A Big Red Telephone Booth

>> Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I am dreaming of a telephone booth; a big, red telephone booth with glass windows like the old fashioned booths in London. I see this big red telephone booth in my living room next to the television cabinet. The booth has excellent cell phone reception.

I announce to my family that I am going to make a telephone call in the red phone booth. They gasp. My little one looks worried. My oldest cries nooo. My family knows that for the next 15 minutes, they will have to rely on each other. Mommy will be so close, yet so far away.

I tell them I love them, give them a kiss, and enter the booth, closing the folding door behind me.

In the booth, I make a telephone call. A friend answers and we talk. We talk. My friend tells me about her life and I listen. “You’re worried about money?” I say. “I'm sorry to hear that. Please, go on...” I listen to her. I listen.

I see Elizabeth singing loudly at the kitchen table. I know it’s loud because her face is turning red and Samantha is holding her ears. She’s yelling, too.

“You’re thinking of getting a new job?” I ask my friend.

Samantha knocks over Elizabeth’s cup of chocolate milk for revenge. Elizabeth cries and walks over to the booth. She looks up at me through the glass and tries to tell me what happened, but all I see is the movement of her lips. Samantha follows her to the booth with her thumb in her mouth. She kicks at the door with her shoe. I wink at them and smile.

My red telephone booth is sound proof.

“That’s a good idea, but why not talk to your supervisor...” I suggest.

Michael walks in and pulls the girls away. He ushers them back to the kitchen to clean up their mess. What’s that? Elizabeth grabs a cheese stick from Samantha and... oh boy, Samantha throws a bowl of macaroni and cheese onto the floor. Looks like time-outs for all...

“When are you leaving for vacation? I hear Yosemite’s great this time of year...”

Uh, oh. Looks like the time-outs aren’t working. Elizabeth is getting out of her chair. Michael is chasing her... and now Samantha is getting out of her time-out chair. They all run laps around the kitchen. Michael looks mad. Elizabeth is laughing. Samantha stops to eat a Froot Loop she found on the floor.

“No way! You guys had sex already?! Details, I want details!”

Wait a minute... Michael and the girls are coming over. They stand around my big red telephone booth, mouthing things urgently to me in a silent movie. I look from one to the other as they each vie for my attention. They knock and bang on the glass panels. I shrug, point to my ears and shake my head -- sorry, no comprende. They bang harder, but I'm not worried.

My big red telephone booth is indestructible.

But suddenly I feel weak. My concentration lags. I lean against the back panel for support. What's happening? I realize that while my big red telephone booth may be shatter-proof, my spirit is not.

“Wha...what was that? You need what kind of procedure?” I ask, confused.

My family looks pissed. I’m getting dizzy. I want to be their superhero. I want them to like me. Their angry visages bring sweat to my brow. I struggle to interpret the contortions of their mouths. Perhaps they really need me. Perhaps they are having a problem that only I can solve. Perhaps I should hang up on my friend and leave immediately... to avert some lurking disaster. Perhaps...

“Hit the emergency button!”


“The emergency button!” my friend yells through the static of my brain.

Yes, there! Next to the door is a shiny red button that reads:

Push in Case of Guilt.

I stab it with my fist and suddenly the glass becomes cloudy and opaque. Muted colors swirl and dance within the glass until I see green pasture on all sides. Acre upon acre of endless green. I look up and a cool shade tree hovers above my big red telephone booth.

My mind is silent.

In the distance I see a little rabbit. No, not a rabbit -- it’s a letter of the alphabet. Then I see another letter and another, hopping happily through the grass. There is joy in their play. They stop to rest for a moment and I see they’ve formed a greeting. It reads:

It’s OK. They’ll be fine.

I smile. My shoulders relax. The letters break apart to frolic again, running and hopping through the grass. They stop once more.

You’re doing a great job, they tell me.

I exhale. The fog clears from my mind and I hear my friend’s voice. My friend's voice. She is talking and laughing softly. It is good to hear her; to hear what she has to say. I listen to her once again. I listen.

“So,” I ask, “What do you plan to do on your vacation?”

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