Why are two wired?
What could a phone voice be hiding?
I inquired within.
And my face sprouted a magnificent grin.
Blushing I was thinking. Now we’re do I begin?
My first forays into telecommunication I’d yet to grow any voice of my own. And just repeated what I was told.
My first recollection of speaking in such a manner my inflections differed? I was 13 years old. My phone voice tried its best to hide my visible fear and plethora of insecurities.
But untested as it was I kept the conversation short.
Introductions and niceties. Before offering to be her date. Left in limbo. That is a moment I’ve never learned not to hate. A yes goes a long way in bettering the mood. A No and you can’t excuse yourself quick enough. Trying to laugh off and hide how hard of hit your ego just had to take. Hang up quickly. God forbid you still find yourself in the friend zone. You hope they’ll never know how much it hurts. If you ever cared for them at all.
"If you’d like to make a call. Hide your hang ups and dial again"
Ms. Mary neatly stacked her pile of papers and placed them on the corner of her desk.
"Well, it seems as though nothing's out of the ordinary," Principal Brown said.
Ms. Mary smiled. "Of course! Those mothers, so sensitive you know?"
Principal Brown smiled back. "Yes, but a bunch of moms bombarding the office with calls is a bit concerning, don't you think?"
Ms. Mary's eye twitched just a bit. "Probably just bad grades."
Principal Brown shook his head. "Actually, every one of your students comes home crying, but we just can't figure out why."
"Oh, it must be the bullying." Ms. Mary replied with a sigh. "Just the other day I saw a kid beating one of my students up."
Principal Brown scratched his head. "Well...the kids have been saying...er..." He hesitated before continuing, "...they've been saying that it's...you."
Ms. Mary's pleasant smile turned into a look of sadness. "Oh...is that so?"
"Yes, but we have no idea why," Principal Brown replied. "You seem as though a great teacher."
"Why thank you!" And just like that, Ms. Mary's smile returned.
"Alright well, I'll be on my way then."
Just as Principal Brown closed the door, Ms. Mary's smile turned into an unpleasant look. She sat down at her desk and folded her hands in her lap. Then she proceeded to stare at the clock, counting down the minutes till class would start.
At exactly 8:00 and the students marched towards their desks in a line. Each one of the students did not show any emotion but the fear could be seen in their eyes. As they all sat down, Ms. Mary reached for her pen and started taking attendance.
One by one she listed out the names and the students responded just as quickly.
There was no response.
Just then a boy ran into the classroom.
"No running inside the classroom, George."
George just nodded, his eyes looking at the ground, not wanting to stare back at Ms. Mary's piercing eyes.
"You are late."
George finally looked up. "M-Ms. Mary, I'm only late by a few minutes-"
Ms. Mary walked to her cabinet and opened the very top drawer. She pulled out an object and made her way back to George, who was trembling in fear.
"P-Please, n-no. I-I brought a l-late pass."
Ms. Mary just chuckled and said, "It's too late, George."
She then she turned to the class. "Let this be a lesson for all of you."
The next day there was no George. No one but Ms. Mary and the students knew who he was. His desk and cubby were gone from the classroom. The only thing that remained of him was his late pass, which was on the ground in the very same spot where he stood the day before.
phone call from a mother-in-law
"John?" its her mother goddamn it.
"Hi Mrs. Whitling."
"Has Stephanie contacted you at all?" I wished she'd shut up. "I called her twice and she hasn't answered a single call or text in hours."
"No she hasn't, I was actually about to call you about the same thing." I rested my back against the basement wall. My hair dark from the rain. "It's getting dark out and I'm a bit worried."
"Do you think we should call the police? I'm not overthinking things?" I knew that was the first thing her small brain would suggest.
"Her phone probably died and she got caught in the rain,"
She sighed. "You're probably right."
"Let's wait for the rain to stop and then if she's not back, we'll call."
"Alright." She paused probably fretting her wrinkled fingers off the bone. "But call me right away if she contacts you."
"Thank you John."
Personally, I am from a place where heat is guaranteed, and bacon grease is a precious commodity. A place that is portrayed through the media as a one-stoplight town where hicks marry cousins and can't spell. The ignorance that inherently follows my heritage slithers into my voice and holds fast, much like the roots of our crop stationed deep into the ground, decidedly stationary. If I were to allow this nuisance to continue twisting its vines around my vocal cords, I would be reduced to the mere sound of my voice in comparison to which words were actually being projected from it. It is through intense effort and incessant practice that I have scythed away root after root, to create the perfect 'phone voice.' One devoid of an accent, think MidAtlantic sounding. One that would be listened to for content and not condemned.
The phone call
The phone started to ring.
"Hello!" he answered holding the knife to her throat.
"Yes, Hello my name is Detective Steve Hendrix may I ask whom I am speaking with?"
"Detective?" he tightened his grip daring her to make a sound "Why on earth would you be calling me?"
The detective let out a sigh.
"Can you just answer the question."
"Yes.. Yes, My name is John Waters" he licked the side of her face, she cringed at the smell of his breath.
"Mr. Waters, exactly the person I would like to speak with, is there anyway you can come down to the station"
He stopped licking her, more attentive and straightening his back
"Right now is not a great time for my detective, you see I have had a family emergency come up my aunt has come down with a bit of the sniffles and I am traveling to Arizona in 4 hours." He kicked her to the ground she let out a whimper.
"Arizona? For the sniffles? I am sorry Mr. Waters but it is very important that you come down within the hour or we will have to serve an arrest."
He picked up a pair of sewing scissors, he showed them to her, she drew back.
"Arrest for what? you'll have no leg to stand on"
He started to cut the bottom of her shirt inching upward towards her chin.
"Suspension of kidnapping, Mr. Waters"
He stopped cutting.
"With all apologies Mr... what did you say your name was again?"
"Detective Steve Hendrix..." the detective interrupted.
"oh yeah Detective Hendrix but it is of most importance that I make it out to my aunt she is deadly ill and I'm afraid she wont make it through this one." he plunged the scissors into her throat blood oozing from the gash.
"Can you just answer me this then have you seen a woman, age 23, short brown hair, medium build?"
He plunged the scissors deeper. She let out gargling chokes as the blood started to suffocate her. She shook trying to free herself with every bit of energy she had left.
"No Detective I cant say that I have I usually just stick to myself if anyone would know it would be that old noisy senile Mrs. Wallace across the street."
"What's that noise in the background" asked the detective.
"Have a wonderful day Detective Hope you find her." he hung up the phone.
The Phone Voice
I called a lawyer about a job and he said I have The Phone Voice. That was after I said, "I would like to be a lawyer" and he laughed, a cackle, and said I did not, in fact, want to be a lawyer. My phone voice is high-pitched, positive, lovely. Everything I am not.
Let me let you in on a secret. I have been in administration for a long, long time. I have sat in traffic on the way to work, forming my fingers into a gun shape. I have held the gun shape to my temple, and out loud, said "POW!" I have screamed in my car. Administration has made me reconsider humanity. I wonder, how is it people can do this, for minimum wage, and have - no, wrong word. Choose. Choose to have families? How is this a life? How would you want to continue it after administration?
The Phone Voice has followed me.
Once in administration I almost messed up. The girl I was training to take my job - I have quit many administration jobs - made me howl with laughter. Here's how The Phone Voice went, and how it's supposed to go.
"Hello, this is ____ (insert company), ___ (insert my name) speaking, how may I help you?"
But in that case, I laughed it into the phone. The girl was shocked. She said, you laughed! But of course I did, and isn't it all pointless, anyway?
Isn't The Phone Voice supposed to be mysterious, like, none of this is real? The administrator knows it, the client knows it. It's all a facade, a 9-5 play with acts that get divided up into chucks of time I call "before lunch" and "before I get to go home."
My The Phone Voice is a buttery drawl. It draws people in like flies. In my every day life, my voice is flawed. I stutter, mumble, slur my words. I never know what to say. But administration is different. There's a script, and all you have to do is follow it, follow the rules of the company, of professionalism. You become someone different.
The Phone Voice was not the voice that screamed in my car. I have never been rude on the phone, at least at work. I keep it together. But when I think of The Phone Voice, I think of that lawyer, and his words. You don't want to be a lawyer. His words. His tone.
That's not the tone of The Phone Voice.
The Phone Voice stays within the parameters of 9-5, and after that, I'll tell you to F off when I pass you in my car with my gun fingers at my temple.
The Phone Voice
Fake as can be,
Sound so moist,
To the listener's ear.
Soft and lush,
Like baby's flesh,
Cute and sweet,
Like marinated meat.
Make listener feel safe,
And obviously not scared,
To tell them we both fine,
And not in a fighting state.
The phone voice,
I would say that is not me,
It just to cheer the void,
Between you and me.
If we meet real life,
I bet it's going to disappoint you,
Because the voice that sounds much like your future wife,
Is monster that going to eat you.
Brought a Smile
This challenge brought a smile to my face as it took me back in time. When my son was young he told me, "you have two voices". I asked him what he meant. He didn't hesitate in telling me how I went from fussing at him to answering the phone in a "nice" voice....I remember briefly pausing before asking him, "why would I answer the phone in an angry voice to someone who didn't do anything? He didn't skip a beat in saying "well, it sounds fake." lol.....
one slow blink of closed eyes
my back straightens as I read the caller ID on the ringing phone
my shoulders rise up in time with my breath
one heavy sigh, one slow blink of closed eyes
everything is fine
No stress, no nerves, no worries
No anger, no tears, no pain
everything is fine
hidden in the calm, consistent murmur of my voice on the phone
emotions straining it to a slightly higher pitch, a slightly smoother tone
desperate to break through, break down, break me
hiding from the voices on the other side of the line
hiding from the thoughts yelling at me from the inside
but I allow one heavy sigh, one slow blink of closed eyes
everything is fine