This post is for a Writing Prompt competition. http://www.creativewritingink.co.uk/resources/writing-prompts/
It rang again, it seemed louder somehow, and was getting annoying. It was one of those bog-standard telephone rings, what most people would expect from an old public phone. Graffiti stained the walls and the glass was riddled with small spots of rain from earlier.
Still it rang, it lasted for about ten minutes, none of us went to answer it, we had no business or right to. At last it stopped.
A minute later the bus pulled in, three of the people nearby got on, and two got off. There was another bus in five minutes which took a different route and lead towards the city centre, that’s the one we were waiting for, this one only took people around the city to the housing estates behind.
There were now seven of us waiting as the bus pulled off. The man and woman next to me were a couple, hugging each other, making some quiet comments which none of us could hear then kissing. Next to them was a pregnant woman holding her womb and smiling at people who commented such as ‘congratulations’. Fifth of our group was a man dressed in a brown-grey coat, he was getting on in years with silvery-white hair, he was one of the two people who came off the bus. The second person who had come off was a younger man with dark hair and a foreign accent, he tried to make conversation at least while we all waited, some of us didn’t like it, I don’t think some of the people much cared for him. Then lastly was a woman, about my age with long brunette hair and a smile which made my heart skip a beat. Me? I’m just a failing photographer who works in a museum at a cafe there.
Suddenly it rang again, the echoing sound rushing through the empty street so passers looked over. The foreign man and the older man looked over curiously, but neither moved for a moment. I heard the foreigner say ‘Cold caller, ey?’ as he thought this was a typical English joke, then I heard the door open. Looking around, the older man went inside the booth and picked up the receiver.
“Hello? Just a moment.” the conversation went, over about a minute.
The man came out of the booth and looked around. “Is anyone here called Sharon?”
The pregnant woman stood up and stared around to him. He held the receiver out and she came to answer it. “Hello? Oh, thank you! Thank you so much!”
She slammed the receiver down and rushed off up the road, almost skipping as she went.
The elderly man had scarcely sat back down when the phone rang again. He leapt up, expecting it to be for the pregnant woman again, answering it just the same as he had before.
“Is there a Chris and Sophie here?” the man asked.
The couple stood up and stared at the elderly man for a moment. “They say the party’s been cancelled.”
“Thank God! I didn’t want to spend another moment hearing about their trip to Egypt!” ‘Chris’ declared just as the receiver went down.
The couple walked up the street, happy and still hugging each other as they went.
A few minutes passed in silence, the man sat back down and had a moment to pour himself a cup from a thermos flask. Almost as soon as he had finished drinking what appeared to be tea, the phone rang again.
“Hello?” the man said. A smile broke on his face. “Yeah, I’ll tell him. Thank you.”
He dropped the receiver and came out to the foreigner. “You got the job, they want you to start on Monday.”
The foreigner dropped to his knees and thanked the man multiple times. The man struggled to escape from him, but eventually the foreigner wandered up the street, another smiling person skipping by.
By now this seemed like some sort of joke, it seemed to me like they were all actors or something. Then the phone rang again.
‘Oh great, whose this going to be for? The woman, or the man?’ I thought. “Are you called John?”
“Yeah.” I said. Lucky guess, I wonder how many John’s live around here? “What does the phone want?”
“Phone doesn’t want anything. It’s the person across the street calling.” the elderly man waved to a woman on her mobile. “She says you should talk to Sarah, she’s a great girl and that woman’s seen you staring at her.”
“Whose Sarah?” I asked.
Then the young woman at the bus stop stepped forwards, smiling awkwardly.
“Oh, um, hi!” I said, as the elderly man put the receiver down.
The bus arrived a moment later, all three of us climbed on, I started chatting to Sarah and she seemed to be happy to talk.
Then, just as the elderly man stepped on the bus, ‘Ring!’ the phone sounded again.
“Hold the bus a moment!” the man cried. “This one’s got to be for me!”
Two of us rode back on the bus that day, the elderly man walked home, smiling from cheek to cheek.