Call on a Dead Line

The cell chirped, and James jumped. He startled so easily these days.

“Hello?” he answered without looking at the caller ID, just happy for any human contact.

“James, hun, I love you.” His wife’s voice, shaky and unsure.

“Um, I love you too. Are you o…”

She cut in, blurting out, “I’m infected.” In the silence that followed pointless questions of how, where, and who half formed on his lips. Warring desires flitted back and forth in his mind, taking no more than a half-second each. Come home; stay away. I want to see you; I don’t want you anywhere near the kids. This can’t be true; it’s bound to happen.

Instead, his mind found distraction in the background noise of the call, “Tess, where are you?”

“The freeway.”

“The…are you heading home?” He felt bad for the fear in his voice.

She laughed her usual laugh, “No, Jim. I’m not coming home, but I love you.”

“I…I love you too, hon…do you have the windows open or…”

A wet thud resounded through the earpiece, then static, a dead line.

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