This is a work of fiction, a short story of 1080 words.
Angela checked her mobile. Still nothing. Crossing the room to the house phone, she picked it up, and pressed the green button. The loud dialling tone signified that it was working, but she checked the wall socket, just in case. The time on the PVR made it almost an hour since he had dropped her off in the taxi. She worked it out in her head. Battersea to Kensington, at that time of night. Fifteen minutes max, she reckoned.
Walking through to the bedroom, she pulled down her best shiny black tights, and slipped them off of her ankles. Dropping them into the washing basket, she reached around to feel for the zip at the back of her dress, but something stopped her. What if she didn’t hear the phone ring? Retracing her steps, she brought both phones into the bedroom, then finished undressing. They also accompanied her into the bathroom, as she removed her make-up, and brushed her teeth. Slipping on a T-shirt nightdress, she decided to give it another thirty minutes, and went back to sit on the sofa.
The sound of a police siren passing the window woke her up. She grabbed the mobile, and pressed the small bar that activated the screen. It was almost four, and still nothing. She had dropped off, still in the living room, and she felt very cold. Climbing under the duvet in her comfy bed, she started to warm up. But she couldn’t relax. Perhaps the house phone had rung when she was fast asleep? She quickly dialled 1471, but the last number that had called was her Mum’s, on Sunday evening. There was nothing for it but to get to sleep. She had work in the morning.
As she sat on the bus the next day, stuck in the usual solid London traffic, Angela had time to think. She had to admit, it wasn’t really what you would call a date, even though it had sort of turned out like one. At the Tapas place they always used, celebrating the birthday of some girl at work she hardly knew. That girl’s brother, Richie, had brought his girlfriend along, and Adam was one of the girlfriend’s work colleagues. Angela had liked him straight off, and managed to sit next to him when their table was ready. They had chatted easily, and she was sure he liked her too. Of course, she had told him about the split from Paul. If anything, he needed to know that she was free and available. Had she gone on a bit much? She was sure she hadn’t. After all, he would want to know something about her background, surely?
Later on, she was surprised when he got up to go. The place was still open, and they were usually the last to leave. She grabbed her bag and followed him to the door.
“What way are you heading?” She had been sure to sound casual as she asked.
“West”. He had seemed distracted as he answered.
“Me too, Battersea. Maybe we could share a cab?” Just the right tone. No desperation.
“I’ve got an Uber coming in three minutes, no trouble to drop you on the way”. Angela beamed at that.
In the car, she sat just close enough to feel his proximity, but not too close of course. He was looking at his phone a lot, and when she caught his eye, he apologised.
“Sorry, work stuff”. Sounded genuine.
As the car entered her street, she was feeling more than a little neglected, so decided to take the initiative.
“Maybe we could do something like this again? I can give you my number.” Cheery, non-committal.
“Er, sure. Go ahead”. Flicking his phone to ‘Contacts’.
“Better take my home number too. The mobile signal can be iffy around here”. Forceful.
“Go ahead”. Adding the number to her name, not looking up.
Her doorway loomed.
“Just here please driver”. Polite.
“So, give me a call soon, yes? Maybe text me, and let me know you got home safe. Then I will have your number too”. Matter-of-fact.
“Yeah, right. Will do.”
He didn’t get out of the car to walk her to her door, but the taxi stayed in the street until she was inside. As she turned to wave from the open door, the tail-lights were disappearing at the end of the street. She hurried inside to get her mobile on charge. It did have 72% battery, but you could never be too sure.
When she was settled at work that morning, Angela made some excuse to go two floors up to see the birthday girl from last night. She was sat at her desk, the one with the large fluffy hippo fixed to the top of her monitor. Silly.
“Hi, great night wasn’t it? Thanks for asking me along.” Casual, but breezy.
“Thanks for coming, I had a good time”. Indifferent, didn’t seem to want to talk.
“That friend of your brother, Adam, he was nice. He took me home in a taxi”. Enthusiastic.
“Oh, he is someone who works with Richie’s girlfriend. I don’t know why she invited him”. Bored.
“I stupidly deleted his number by mistake though. I feel awkward, as he will call me, and I won’t know who it is. Do you think Richie would have it?” Relaxed, unconcerned.
“I don’t think Richie even knew him. In fact, he had a huge row with his girlfriend about her bringing him last night, and accused her of fancying him. Seems they split up over it.” Informative.
“Oh well, never mind. He will probably call soon. Thanks anyway.” Confident, assured.
Her phone didn’t ring until she was on the bus home. Finally. She flicked open the case. It was Mum. She pressed the red circle to dismiss the call. Mum would go on and on, and Adam might get the engaged tone, and not bother to call back. Angela took the stairs to her flat two at a time. She didn’t even bother to take off her shoes before rushing into the living room to check the answering machine. Nothing. She did 1471, and got the same old call from Mum. Then she checked the dialling tone again, followed by the connection in the socket.
No point cooking anything. Adam was bound to ring just as she sat down to eat. She would have a snack after he had called. She sat in the dark that evening, both phones ready on her lap. It was almost two when she gave up and went to bed.
He would call tomorrow. She was sure of that.