Flap, flap, flap.

I stopped walking down the street, and the sound stopped with me. I started walking.

Flap, flap.

I must have paper attached to my shoe. I carefully lifted each foot and examined the soles of my shoes. Nothing. My purse strap fell from my left shoulder, and I tucked my day planner firmly under my armpit freeing my right hand to lift the strap back into place. Morning sunlight filtered gently through trees overhead, and a bird sang joyfully nearby. I juggled my lunch bag, purse and day planner back into order and began walking towards work once again.

Flap, flap, flap.

I stopped and turned around to find the source of the noise. My cell phone holder flapped along on the ground behind me, still attached to my purse by a rapidly unraveling thread. "Oh no!" I bent over, squishing the baby and my bladder, to pick up my now filthy holder. I brushed off the road dirt as best as I could and pondered over the emptiness of the small pouch. Then I remembered I had left my cell phone in the van, now a block away. I considered walking back to the van to retrieve my phone, but the pressure on my bladder convinced me to continue on to work...and a restroom. A day without a cell phone would not be a huge problem.

I continued forward.

Three hours later the phone on my desk rang. "Good morning, this is Melissa, how can I help you?" I spoke pleasantly into the receiver.

"Where's your cell phone?" the groggy voice of my husband rasped out at me. He works from 4 in the afternoon until 3 in the morning, so this hour of the day was the middle of the night to him.

"In the van," I responded, puzzled that he was even awake at this hour, let alone trying to call me.

"No, it's not. It's outside," he mumbled with great effort.

"What?" I questioned.

"Go outside. Someone has it."

I quickly deduced that my husband was trying to surprise me, and I joyfully jumped from my office chair, hanging up the phone in the process. I ran outside, fully expecting to see Jeremy's truck parked in front of my office. A quiet street presented itself to my view, no little gray trucks parked anywhere nearby.

Then I realized what must have happened. Earlier, I must have put my cell phone into the pouch after all and not remembered doing it, so when the pouch fell to the ground, the phone must have fallen out. When I continued walking, not realizing that the flapping sound belonged to me, I distanced myself from wherever my cell phone had landed. By the time I finally realized the holder was dragging on the ground, the cell phone was not nearby so I decided that I must have left it in the van when I really had not.

Someone must have picked up my phone and called my husband. With this new idea in mind, I looked around for a promising contact trying to return my phone to me. A few doors down, a woman walked towards me. I smiled at her meaningfully, wondering if I could make up a code word to identify myself to her that she would understand without having agreed upon it previously.

The duck flies at midnight? No, too cryptic.

Phone? No. Simple enough, but too rude sounding if she didn't realize it was a code word...and anyway, what kind of code word would phone be, if the object of our discussion was the phone? Way too obvious.

I finally decided to ask her, "Are you looking for a mystery cell phone owner?" As she approached me, I continued to make intense eye contact and smile broadly. At first, she met my eyes and smiled in a friendly way, but I soon realized that her body language did not spell purposefulness to return a cell phone or hesitancy to wonder if I was a cell phone owner. Instead, she walked as though she knew nothing about a missing cell phone. I stood planted in my chosen spot on the sidewalk near my office door and waited for her to draw near enough to speak. Two doors away from me, she turned and entered a shop.


I guess she wasn't my mystery phone rescuer after all. I stood on the quiet street, waiting for another person to stroll past. No one did. I walked to the corner and looked down the cross street. No one stood looking for a missing owner.

I hesitated, wondering what to do. Then brilliance struck!

I walked back into my office and dialed my cell number. It rang several times before a pleasant sounding voice answered, "Hello?"

"Hi, this is my phone," I said happily.

"Excuse me?"

"You're holding my phone," I clarified.

"Oh! Where are you?"

"I'm at work; where are you?"

"At the police station."

Well, that made sense! "Okay, I'll be right over." I skipped across the street to the police station where the same young, blond receptionist, Chris, from my previous visit welcomed me warmly. "Hi! I'm here to pick up my phone."

"Oh! That's your phone?" she turned to the desk and picked it up. "I spoke with your mom," she told me. "She seems really nice! She said she would contact your husband."

"She got in touch with him," I assured her with a smile, "and he called me. So here I am."

The receptionist slipped the phone into the slot under the Plexiglas and said, "You must be relieved."

But the echoes in the old building translated that phrase into "This must be released," for my ears. I stood on the other side of the Plexiglas, looking at my phone.

"Oh." I nodded and waited expectantly for her to ask me a question that would identify me as the real owner of the phone, or for her to slide out a form that I needed to sign in order to release my property from her care.

She stared at me with a half-smile on her face, obviously expecting an enthusiastic response to her inquiry.

My brow wrinkled as I looked back at her. She did not move to find a form. "What was that?" I asked her after a short silence.

"I said, You must be relieved," she paused. "To get your phone back?" Her blond eyebrows elevated slightly.

"Oh! Yes! Yes, I am." I smiled at her, hoping that I looked relieved as I picked up the phone from the counter where it had been lying. I probably would be relieved if I had known that my phone was missing, I thought to myself. Instead, I was just enjoying the adventure.

I turned and walked towards the door, "Thank you!" I called to her from the entrance. Her puzzled face greeted my eyes when I looked back at her. As I pushed open the heavy front doors, I imagined her rounding up policemen to surround me once I left the building. She probably thinks I'm an impostor since I couldn't muster up the relief that an owner ought to feel. I guiltily left the station, waiting all the while for a shout to call me back.

I did feel relieved when I had crossed the street unhindered and entered my own place of business once again.
1 Response
  1. Linda Says:

    Good stuff. We think/narrate similarly.

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