Fiction from Sabrina Hicks
I call a number that gets me a person on the line whose voice will ask me questions and quiet the house around me. I’ll have product 29485, I say, looking at the raindrops midair, smile wrapped around a girl’s face held up to a sun only she can see. She is hugging something, a prop to this happiness, and the woman on the line tells me I’ve made a great choice and I think I’m a person making a great choice and I keep her on the line with: How durable is it? How do I take care of it? Does it come with a warranty? She is patient and kind, says, those are great questions, and I think, I’m a person asking great questions. The empty house moans, tries to remind me of what I am not, but I’m only hearing my great questions. I pull out my credit card and read the number over the phone, misreading two digits, asking if she can hold on, and I think someone is waiting for me, I am a person worth waiting for. That minute stretches and I hear frustration in her breath so I apologize because I’ve let it get too far, I’m losing that feeling I’m paying for and I wonder if I should hang up, but I can’t because she might turn to someone next to her and say quietly she was speaking with a real weirdo, someone who wasn’t worth her time. I start to forget what I’m buying until I see the raindrops midair and the smile on that beautiful little girl’s face and I think, oh yes, and I get the numbers correct this time. I read them aloud and when she repeats them back to me I say yes, yes, very good because maybe she needs something positive too. Maybe she’s having a terrible day and this makes her think she’s done something very good by reading the numbers back to me correctly. Sometimes all we can ask for is this small miracle of a well-received performance. And I give her my address and the house moans so I put my hand over the receiver and say, Hush up you! and she asks if I have kids and then says, Of course you do, because of product 29485, which is generous of her when I know she wanted to say grandkids but then thought better of it, which means she’s very polite and I want to tell her she was raised well, not by parents who have no time to parent, the kind found on planes, in the aisles of stores, ones who can’t bother with phone calls or visits. So, I say, I do. I say, They’re beautiful just loud. The kind of beauty that doesn’t last though or forgive, and I allow myself a look at the framed photos of people I remember from long ago who mail me packages twice a year, Christmas and June 3, adding to the unopened boxes in the garage, piling higher and higher, suffocating the space where my car used to be, spilling into each spare room until they are claimed. She says she understands but I hear something shift in her voice the way I do every evening with Peter, the delivery man, who used to be Mike and before him a large woman named Jeannie who smelled like peppermint and Dial soap, so I tell her she has a lovey voice because she does. It slips into each syllable like silk, like maybe she is somewhere South and before I can ask where she is from because I want to imagine I’m with her on a front porch sipping lemonade, smelling jasmine, gossiping about neighbors, she ends with it was so nice to talk to me and my order should be 5-7 business days and I should have a wonderful evening. And I have. I’ve had a wonderful evening tasting those raindrops.
Sabrina Hicks lives in Arizona. Her work has appeared in Wigleaf Top 50, Split Lip Magazine, Lost Balloon, Bending Genres, Barren, Matchbook, Ellipsis Zine, and other publications. More of her work can be found at sabrinahicks.com.