HALF OF A PHONE CALL
(A man is sitting alone in his house. His second cousin is giving birth right now but he has no idea. They never meet each other and they never have. He’s going to answer his telephone. It rings.)
MAN: Hello? Yes, speaking. She’s what? Who?
(Many people that are not on the stage die at the exact same moment. They never knew each other.)
MAN: I don’t know anyone named Jessica.
(He does. He knows her face vaguely. Sometimes he dreams about it but he doesn’t remember. He has seen her picture on Facebook under “Recommended Friends.” Actually, at this moment, there are thousands of people named Jessica.)
MAN: Oh, well that’s just too bad.
(He opens his mouth to say something. The other person on the line does not see this, because that is how telephones work.)
MAN: And I’m the only family? Is that right?
(He hears too much. Keep in mind that this is a phone call and he’s just received some shocking news that he had a cousin and she has died somewhere between the first word of this play and the ring of the telephone.)
(He doesn’t inherit the child because that would be too much. He’s just hearing this news. Someone needs to know. Perhaps the child dies too. There are better questions to ask, for example: how did the person at the other end of the line receive his number? Who is that person? What are they doing, and is someone out there telling people like you what they are doing? How did they know to call him, specifically? What if his phone was off when they called? They would have left a message. It would have been a very confusing message and he may have disregarded it completely.)
MAN: Oh. Ok.
(How are we meant to feel when strangers leave us? They seem replaceable, like goldfish.)
MAN: Thanks for calling.
(At some point he hangs up because phone calls do not last forever. He thinks about the news he has just received over dinner, a salad he bought at the grocery store. It tastes bland, as bland as salads do. It’s only much later that he realizes there were no croutons in the prepackaged meal, and there usually are.)
by Amina Aineb