Tables Turned

Tables Turned

by Jean M Cogdell

God, how’d she get to this point? Her day started simple enough. All she’d done was make one phone call, no big deal, or so she thought.

The table littered with used tissues, and tears spilling from her eyes, she reached once more for the Kleenex box. The house was quiet. She’d made too much coffee again; she’d need to remember to make enough for only one.

She stood filling her cup for the third time, and returned to her chair, staring at the opened envelopes on the table. Susan pushed the papers to one side her hand brushing against cold steel. A chill ran through her hand; she should fear the alien object, yet she didn’t. Even in her wildest moments, she never imagined ever having one in her kitchen.

Her hand trembled, hovering over the thing. She’d barely examined the gun before purchasing, only taking the package and scurrying home. The weapon seemed heavier now as she held it in her hands. The seller had promised this was the solution to her problems. Who knew buying a gun would be this easy. How’d she get here, relying on strangers for advice and guns for solutions?

Startled by the loud ringing, the gun dropped from her hand landing with a thud.

“Damn, thank God the things not loaded!”

She reached for the phone, “Hello.”

Empty air greeted her. Then came heavy breathing; she heard nothing else until the dial tone. Her phone had become an instrument of terror. She tabbed through the calls; call blocked, as usual. The phone rang again, call blocked. On the fourth ring, she couldn’t take the shrill sound any longer, punching the talk button she screamed into the phone.

“Stop calling me!”

Susan sat cradling her head in her arms, and let the tears come. Tired, she was tired and so alone. She needed a few minutes to have her pity party that’s all, then she’d pull up her big girl panties and by God, she’d end this one way or another.

She wiped her nose and dried her tears. Susan needed something stronger than coffee to drink. At the sink, she rinsed her coffee mug and walked to the fridge filling her mug with cold vodka.

Susan lifted the mug in a mock salute to the papers and nearly choked as she took a long drink. The thought of her eyes watering from the vodka, and not from crying, brought a smile to her lips as the slow burn began to spread.

“Okay, I can handle this.” Susan opened the small brown box next to the revolver.

The day before had started out with such promise. Barely past daylight when she had kissed Oliver goodbye. Then the mail came, and all hell broke loose.

How was she to know? The envelope had her name on the outside. She had every right to know. She called the number, and she asks the questions. Now she knew and wished she didn’t.

There written in black and white the truth lay on her kitchen table. Oliver had plans for a life without her.

She wouldn’t be anyone’s victim.

Susan dialed Oliver’s cell number. She heard his voice requesting she leave a message.

“Oliver, I’m still alive.” Susan lost count of the messages she’d left, he’d yet to return her calls.

“Guess that last one got to him.” Susan picked up the ringing phone. “So you finally got the balls to call me back.”

“Susan I can’t talk right now. Don’t call anyone, and listen, don’t talk to anyone!”Susan I can’t talk right now. Don’t call anyone, and listen, don’t talk to anyone!”

“Too late, oh they want their money.”

“Son of a…” Susan hit redial; the call went to voice mail. She didn’t bother leaving a message. Soon after, the heavy breathing calls started.

At first, Susan thought wrong number, but one became ten and then she quit counting. She found sleeping impossible waiting for the phone to ring or for Oliver to come back. As the hours passed, her nerves became more frayed, and by morning when the mail came, she made a decision.

First, stop at the bank and then go shopping. It surprised Susan how easy buying a gun turned out to be. Money makes everything easier. The first couple of pawn shops refused to sell without the waiting period, but Susan finally found one willing, for a price, to bend the rules.

The drive home seemed surreal, and Susan felt like a stranger pulling into her own driveway. She thought of calling the police, but what would she tell them. Her husband hadn’t come home; he owes money to bad people and plans to pay them with her life. No one would believe her; she had no proof. Susan had trouble believing it herself, but there wasn’t any other explanation.

Now today she hardly recognized the woman sitting in her kitchen loading a gun, exhausted and frazzled, she wondered if she could go through with it.

“Oliver?” Susan answered the phone.

“Yeah, Babe everything’s going to be okay.”

“How can you say that? Where are you?”



“I just wanted to let you know everything’s okay.”

“Oliver!” Susan was yelling into a dial tone.

She heard the door open in the living room. Susan recognized the steps coming her way.

“You were nearby.” She said.

“Babe I wish it didn’t have to be this way.”

“Me too.”

He walked to the back door and broke the lock.

“So that’s how it’s supposed to go down.” Susan sighed.

“Hey, I went away to give you time to adjust to the idea of our divorce. Someone broke in. These things happen.”

“Yeah, so I’ve heard.”

Susan hadn’t expected heat from the gun in her lap to burn her leg when she pulled the trigger, but the most surprising thing was the shocked look on Oliver’s face.

“911, what is your emergency?”

phone calls woman



Tables Turned was first published online by Flash Fiction World 


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