Ten Weeks, Ten Prompts, Ten minutes #4

Ten Weeks, Ten Prompts, Ten Minutes is exactly what it says. Each week I use one of the ten narrative prompts I created in my post, Narrative Prompts, and I have ten minutes to expand on that prompt.

Prompt Four:

She’s the third person today to tell me I look tired. How can I still be tired after fourteen hours sleep? I stick my hand in my pocket and pull out a napkin with a phone number written on it. This isn’t possible. Joel gave me this napkin last night… in my dream.

“Are you okay, Miss?” the waitress asks. She places my coffee on the table, and rests a hand on my shoulder.

I shake my head clear. “Thank you, I’m fine. I haven’t eaten in a while.”

She smiles, and meanders back to the kitchen, eyeing me over her shoulder. As soon as she disappears into the kitchen, I pull out the napkin once more. It’s not like she’d understand what it means. It’s a number on a napkin, not uncommon. How can this be happening? Joel is make believe, a figment of my imagination.

The door swings open again, and the waitress bustles through, carrying an ice cream sundae with a cherry perched on the top. “Here you go, Sweetie. The table over in the corner changed their minds. It’s a shame for it to go to waste.” She plonks it down in front of me, handing me a long handled spoon. “On the house.”

I thank her, and take a mouthful to appease her motherly, watchful eye. I’m not actually hungry, and it’s a mission to swallow it, but I do, and she heads off to clear tables. I pull out the napkin again and lie it on the table. I don’t recognise the handwriting; I know it’s not mine. Can it really be Joel’s? I press the heels of my hands into my eyes. That’s it, I’ve finally cracked.

I take another spoonful of sundae just so I’m doing something. The dark black scrawl of numbers glares up at me, daring me. Okay, the only way to know for sure is to ring the number, right? My mobile feels unusually heavy in my sweaty palm, but I steady my hand, and dial the number.

It rings.

“Hello?” says a male voice.

Oh my god, someone has answered. What do I say?

“Uh, hello, who is this?” I ask.

“You should know, you rang me. Who is this?” My heart stops for an instant. It’s Joel’s voice. I’d recognise it anywhere. “Hello? You still there?”

“It’s Isla,” I blurt. There is silence. “Joel, it’s Isla.”

“Isla, how?”

My voice shakes as it leaves my lips. “The napkin.”

“But you’re not… you’re just a…”

“A dream,” I add. “No, I’m real, I thought you were the dream. I found the napkin you gave me in my pocket.”

“I knew it! I knew you had to be real. Where are you? I’m coming to get you.”

“To get me?”

“Isla, where are you?” he asks, his voice forceful. “Something weird is going on. I need to talk with you. Please don’t be on the other side of the world.”

“I live in Hopetown, Sault County, England. I’m sat in a café on Fore Street it’s called -“

“Aunt Daisy’s” he whispers.

“Yes. How do you know that?”

The kitchen door swings open, and Joel’s slim frame is stood there in his kitchen scrubs, a phone pushed up against his shaggy, black hair.


All excerpts are the works of KJ.Chapman

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