Trilliums and Telephone Bells – A Short Story

download (1) She took the next caller.

Sarah tried to remind herself to be kind to the person on the other end of the telephone. It wasn’t their fault that she was working this shit job. She tried to remember that; some days it was difficult however.

“Thank you for calling Maximus Internet, how may I help you today?”

Sarah heard the sound of bells on the other end of the line and then a voice said: “Hello? With whom am I speaking to?”

Thrown off for a moment, Sarah took a deep breath. It was going to be one of those days, she just knew it. “You called me sir. How may I help you?”

The man on the other end of the line laughed. It wasn’t a creepy old man laugh, so she was pretty sure he wasn’t going to talk dirty to her. What he said next threw her for a loop regardless.

“Is this Sarah? Sarah Duff? Did I dial the right number?”

She was instantly on her guard. “How did you get the direct number? Sir, this is a call centre, we help customers with their internet.” This came out in a rush of breath. Sarah was freaked now. There was no way the man should know her name.

“Oh, now, don’t worry dear, I just wanted to make sure I’ve gotten the right person. You are Sarah Duff, aren’t you? Oh elephant poop! I told them that an email might be easier, but they said it was too impersonal.”

“I’m sorry sir, but who are you?” And who said elephant poop instead of swearing? She was starting to doubt the sanity of the man on the other end of the telephone line.

“Oh, now you’re all uncomfortable! Of course, where are my manners? My name is Greyhound Clivedale Rivington Johnson the Third, but you can just call me Greyhound. I’m calling to offer you something wonderful.”

Sarah was put off. Why did she always get the crazy people? She’d had three over the phone marriage proposals, one woman who called to talk about her cats different bowl movements, one man who talked like a parrot and a girl who told Sarah that her mother wanted to take the family on a vacation to Mars.

It took all kinds, but why did they always have to get through on her phone? “Sir, do you have a problem with your internet?”

“Oh, you can call me Greyhound, I thought I already said that. Darn this infernal contraption! Can you hear me clearly? HELLO?”

“You’re coming through loud and clear Mr. Johnson.”

“Call me Greyhound dear, Mr. Johnson makes me sound like a packaged ham or some meat product. You are Sarah Duff, aren’t you? At least answer me that. You have nothing to be afraid of, dear.”

Despite this being the weirdest call she had ever gotten, even above the family vacationing on Mars, she relented. “Yes Greyhound. I’m Sarah.”

“Excellent!” There was the sound of bells again. Sarah wondered where he was calling from. “Most excellent. Now I won’t take but a moment of your time. I wanted to tell you that you’ve been chosen for something wonderful.”

“What would that be? Why are you calling me?”

“Oh now, I’m getting to that. You’ve been chosen you see. We do this all the time and it’s never the same person twice. It’s your turn now, isn’t that wonderful?”

“Chosen for what? This isn’t some sort of cult is it?”

“Oh goodness no! We’re giving you  the chance of lifetime! Something that most people don’t ever get to see!”

“And what’s that, exactly?”

“Oh, now I hear you closing your mind, you mustn’t do that. What I have to show you will be amazing. Look at your computer screen.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Just look, Sarah. It’s nothing horrible. It’s magic made visible.”

Sarah heard another sound of bells in her ear as she turned towards the screen. Gone were her documents and files. Instead, it was as if her computer monitor had become a window to another world.

She saw a bright blue sky filled with white clouds. There was a field of grass dotted with white flowers. If she squinted at the screen, she could pretend she was there. “It’s beautiful.”

“Don’t you recognize it, Sarah? It’s from your memory.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s the place where you were happiest as a child. Don’t you remember it?”

Sarah thought for a moment and the memory burst into her mind. She remembered her mother, the smell of the flowers and the scent of the wind. “It was where we went when I was twelve. It was such a beautiful summer.”

“You carry that meadow inside of you. Haven’t you ever wondered where you go when you dream?”

“If I’ve dreamt of it, didn’t I recognize it at first?”

“People don’t always remember their dreams when they re-enter the waking world Sarah.”

“Then why show it to me now? What’s this chance you were talking about?”

“The chance to gain wisdom. The chance to remember that you carry your happiness inside of you, that the child you were is still alive and well. That regaining that happiness you had as a child is still possible.”

As she watched the screen she saw herself as a child, running into the field, her arms raised to the sky. She heard the sound of her laughter and it filled her with a brightness that defied description.

“I think I’ve forgotten what it was like to be that happy.”

“Your inner child hasn’t forgotten. You have to embrace her again, learn what it’s like to live with happiness. To truly live life again instead of just exist.”

Tears were welling in Sarah’s eyes but they weren’t from sadness. They were tears of joy. Sarah didn’t know she had so much joy in her. “Thank you Greyhound. Thank you.”

“Oh, don’t thank me, Sarah. You’re the one who has held on to your inner child, even if you didn’t know it. I just showed you what was inside of you.”

There was another tinkle of chimes and the sound made the brightness inside of her grow. “What’s with the bells, Greyhound?”

“Oh, you know, every time a bell rings and all that. Now I have one final gift for you. Reach into the screen.”

“What? You can’t do that.”

“Says the woman who thought her inner child was dead and gone. Do this for  me, please.”

Sarah nodded, even though the angel couldn’t see her. She reached out with trembling fingers and was shocked when they didn’t meet resistance. The screen changed then and all she saw was one of the white flowers. She wrapped her hand around the stem without being told and pulled her hand back out holding on to the flower.

Except, when her hand came out of the monitor it went dark and sitting in the palm of her hand was a broach. It was in the shape of the white flower. She remembered its name then. “A trillium.” She said.

“They stand for a lot of things. Purity, ambition, the trinity. For you, Sarah, they represent your childhood. They are a reminder that who you were as a child is not gone. That anything you dream is possible.”

“Thank you, so much. I don’t really know how to repay you.”

“You can repay me by living your life instead of lamenting what you thought it would be. Will you do that?”

“Yes, yes I will.”

“Then we’re all good. Now go live your life, Sarah. It’s been waiting for you.”

She heard one more final sound of bells before the line went silent. The ringing of bells were in her heart, however, and she was filled with their music. The first thing she was going to do was try and find a field of flowers and run through it.

She pinned the trillium broach to the front of her blouse and answered the next call.

“Thank you for calling Maximus Internet. How can I make your day more awesome?”


Dedicated to Sarah Duff who is awesome. 

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