For Whom the Phone Tolls
Rob was in his cubicle trying to reconcile a spreadsheet when a new email arrived. It was from Celia, and in the subject line it said FW: I HEARD YOUR NEWS.
Celia seldom forwarded things, but this joke must be good if she had bothered, and he welcomed any distraction from the Excel headache before him. Rob opened it to Celia’s own note, which read, “I’m going to kill my mother.”
Why would she kill her mother about a joke, Rob thought, as he scrolled down to the original email, which was from a Don Gillespie. Must be someone related to Celia--
He began to read the text, which read, “Hi, Cele. Your mom told me you got engaged to a nice boy you met at Ohio State. I am happy for you and hope to meet him soon. I know you have been avoiding me for the last few years, but please know Jeanne and I would love to attend your wedding, and bring Charity. She’s five years old now. I wouldn’t want the past to keep us apart during an important milestone like this. But it’s up to you. Love, Dad.”
Rob was flooded by simultaneous realizations: Don Gillespie was Celia’s father. Celia’s mother had taken in upon herself to share this news; that’s why Celia wants to kill her. Celia could no longer avoid dealing with him. Further, wasn’t Rob a little old to be called a “nice boy?” Surprisingly, Rob felt a little sympathy for the man, who seemed to be handling this the best way he knew how.
Rob said a silent prayer of thanks that he hadn’t been with Celia when she read this email, because he knew there was no chance he would have responded in whatever way she would have considered “right.” Now, he had a chance to think about it, but he was still terrified he’d get it wrong.
He stood up and looked around over the cubicle walls. Surely one of his female colleagues would talk him through what to say. His cell phone rang, and Celia’s name popped up. Rob sat down, determined not to answer until he knew what to say, but then it occurred to him what Celia must be going through right now, how angry and upset she must be – and she was reaching out to him, the nice boy to whom she was engaged. It would be rotten to blow her off just because he was in a panic about how to respond correctly. Responding at all seemed more important.
He could buy time by pretending he hadn’t read it yet, he thought, as he answered her call. “Hi,” he said, in the most normal voice possible.
“Did you read it?”
Rob sighed and decided it was better to dive in headfirst and hope to miss the rocks. “Yeah. Just now.”
What does Rob say next to Celia?