3:00 P.M.

   Geez, would the day end already? Pam was hot, tired and hungry. She had not eaten all day, and missed her husband, kids and cat. She couldn’t get out of here fast enough , and it was only 3. Seriously, she had enough of being here in the call center. The people in the cubicles beside her both talked too loud, and she had to repeatedly ask the customer on her line to repeat herself. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Roberts. I understand that you want to return the set of towels. We sent you blue by mistake, what color did you say you needed them?” She stood up to look over the cubicle wall to look at the worst offender, a black-headed older lady named Ginny.  

   She couldn’t wear her hearing aides with the headset, said it was too much feedback and the headset put too much pressure on the earpiece and hurt her ears. But Pam had to hear her customers, too. Looking down at Ginny, Pam glared at her. The lady looked up, wrinkles around her pale grey eyes and a look of contrition on her face. She mouthed she was sorry and held up a finger to wait a second and let her finish the call. Pam instantly felt guilty.  

   The lady on her line was speaking. “Red, and the same size, please.” Pam typed the info into the order, offered free shipping to her, and after thanking her for her business, released the call. Pam stood again, stretching, and hearing nothing from the next cubicle, took her headset off and walked around to Ginny’s cube.

   “I’m so sorry, dear, was I talking too loud again?” She seemed to wince, embarrassed. Pam placed her hand on Ginny’s shoulder, and squeezed. “I’m the one who should be sorry. I know you lost Charlie, and you had to work again to support yourself. I’m just in a bad mood because I haven’t eaten yet, and the customers are shouting at me left and right. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. Forgive me?” Ginny gave Pam a soft smile that reached her eyes, and patted Pam’s hand. “You don’t worry yourself, dear. You are the nicest girl in this place, and I don’t mean to be so loud. I just can’t wear my hearing aides with this headset.” Pam hugged her, and trying to make up for the glare, gave her a peck on her soft, weathered cheek. “No, you are the nicest person in here. Don’t worry, I know you don’t talk loud to upset anyone. Just ignore me.” They both laughed, and they forgot the bad moment.

   Going back to her desk, she unlocked the cabinet above her computer, where they had to store personal belongings while on the call center floor. Grabbing her wallet, she headed off to the break room. There were a lot of vending machines there, and she would being herself and Ginny a snack. Ginny was the one who always brought snacks from home, and she loved celebrating. If she knew it was someone’s birthday, she would decorate their cubicle and bring in a homemade cake. If it was a holiday like Christmas, or Valentine’s, she would decorate the office, bringing in trays of treats and goodies for everyone. Today, she would treat Ginny.

   Ginny was 68. Slim, pretty and in shape, She had come back to work 3 years ago, when her husband of 45 years, Charlie, had passed away. Ginny was Pam’s next-door neighbor, and she had known Pam her whole life. When Charlie passed, Pam went every day to check on her, and take her food. Two months after loosing Charlie, Ginny confided in Pam that she would have to sell her house and move, since she had no money and was too old to work. Pam told her that was nonsense, she could sell her house and move in with her, and she would help her get a job where she worked, a call center for a major home decoration company. She loved living with Pam and her family. The kids loved her and called her grammie, and Pam and her husband Todd treated her like she was their mom.  

   Pam pursued the contents on offer in all the vending machines, and chose chips, cookies, a cherry danish, a bag of peanuts and a candy bar. Taking her haul to the coffee shop on the first floor of the building, she ordered 2 large coffee’s, and asked for a bag for creamer and sugars. Riding back up to the fourth floor, she made her way through the labyrinth of cubicles to her desk. Ginny peered around the corner, and seeing the pile of snacks, smiled wide. “Oh, my, what a treat!” Pulling her chair to her cubicle for Ginny, they sat and chatted over their snack. Feeling better, Pam reassured Ginny that soon they would be home, and they discussed what would be for dinner.  

   Ginny loved cooking, but Pam and her husband hated to see her standing and working so hard. Ginny insisted she loved to do it, and it made her feel wanted and useful. It only made Pam and Todd feel lazy and as if they were taking advantage of her. To come to a solution they could all feel good about, Ginny would tell her what vegetables she needed and Pam would cut them for her and get all the ingredients assembled, and all Ginny had to do was add the ingredients to the pot and cook. Then, when mealtime was over, Pam and Todd cleaned up. It had worked out for three years now, and Ginny was part of the family.  Snack time over, Pam helped Ginny get her chair back to her cube, and settle back down to work.

4:59 P.M.

   Pam was wrapping up her last call of the day, and making sire to note the follow-calls she would have to place tomorrow in her program, then logged off her phone and computer. She told Ginny she was going to the ladies room real quick, and headed off the call center floor. Washing her hands, she heard shouting in the hallway. Grabbing a few paper towels, she ran out see what was going on. She could see down the hall, and there was a bunch of people holding open the door that required a badge. She walked to the door to enter the floor, and the manager told her to wait. Turning around to get out of the way, she was trying to listen, but everyone was talking at once. Seeing her friend Frank in the hallway, she went to him. “What’s going on? I heard shouting, and can’t get back on the floor. Did someone get hurt?” Frank said he didn’t know either, just that they found someone on the floor in their cubicle, unresponsive and that they had called an ambulance.  


   Everyone had moved to let the EMT’s through around 5, and had been standing in the hall, waiting to either get back to work, or to get their personal belongings and go home for the day. Pam was kicking herself that she had not brought her phone with her, and asked Frank if she could use his phone to call her husband and let him know that she and Ginny were running late. Knowing no one could enter or leave the call center floor until they cleared the emergency up, she would just have to wait. She hoped Ginny was not getting frustrated, and was so happy she had gotten them some snacks to tide them over until dinner.


   Pam saw that the doorway crowd was backing up, and that an EMT was walking backward and looking over his shoulder as he guided the stretcher he was pulling out of the doorway. He was blocking her view of who was on the stretcher, but now she could see the second EMT, pushing the stretcher and holding an IV bag in the air. As they got closer to her, she hit the elevator button for them and stood aside to hold it open once it arrived. Now the stretcher passed Pam and her heart felt like it stopped, and she felt as if her blood went cold. It was Ginny! Kneeling down and taking her hand, she told the EMT’s that Ginny lived with her family, and wanted to be with her. They asked Ginny for her consent, and she nodded. 

   Asking Frank to hit redial and tell her husband that she was on her way to the hospital with Ginny, Pam took the next elevator down and arrived as the EMT’s and Ginny’s elevator dinged. Following them to the ambulance, Pam waited for the EMT’s to finish loading Ginny, then climbed inside with her.   one of the The EMT’s was busy opening packages, the other on his phone with the hospital, getting a treatment plan from the Dr. on the other end of the line ordered for Ginny.

   Not wanting to interrupt the EMT’s as they asked Ginny if she was allergic to anything, her date of birth and other critical information, she sat quietly, just holding Ginny’s hand, She gently squeezed it every few seconds to offer her comfort and reassurance. Once the EMT’s sat back and finished talking to her, Pam asked Ginny what happened. “I don’t know, dear.  I was fine. I stood up to get my purse out of the overhead bin, and suddenly everything went sideways and I must have fainted. I was told when I came to that everyone had been trying to rouse me, and that the ambulance was on its way. They made me lay there, and now, here we are.” A small smile was on her face. “I’m sorry, dear, I know how bad you wanted to get home to the kids and Todd.” Her statement shocked Pam.  

   “Ginny, you’re like my mom, and everyone is already at the hospital waiting for us to arrive. It upset no one at all. We just want to make sure you are okay.” The small smile turned into a big smile, and she relaxed into the stretcher.  The rest of the ride, Ginny closed her eyes and rested, holding Pam’s hand. They arrived and Ginny was unloaded efficiently and quickly, and immediately taken up to a room. Todd had filled out all the forms while Pam and Ginny had been en-route, and Pam was grateful Ginny wouldn’t have the indignity of sitting around and waiting for the admitted process.

   Pam waited as the interns transferred Ginny from the stretcher to her bed, and turned to Todd and her kids. She wanted to fall apart, but didn’t want Ginny to see how worried she was. He gave her a hug, and then she bent to hug her kids. They stood waiting for the nurse to finish taking her blood pressure, then when she left, Todd, Pam and the kids circled around Ginny’s bed. “Grammie, when are you coming home?” 5 year old Cindy asked. Marc, 14, asked her to hurry and get better, and gave her a hug and kiss. Letting them chat with Ginny for a few minutes, she saw Ginny was getting tired. It had been a long day. Pam asked Marc to take his sister out to wait in the hall, and then turned to address Ginny.

   “Well, we better head home, but I will be back in the morning. Is there anything I can bring you?” Ginny was about to say no, and remembered they had both had to leave stuff at work. “Dear, I hate to be a bother, but could you wait for a while here with me? The Dr. said he will run a few tests, but thinks I fainted because I stood up too fast. He will probably release me in a few hours, and I would hate for you to have to come back. But Todd should head home with the kids. I know Marc has to get his homework done, and I I don’t want to make Cindy sit here with nothing to do.’ Todd agreed and after kissing Ginny’s cheek, he left. Keeping Ginny company until the Dr. released her, around 9 p.m., they waited for Todd to come pick them up. He drove Pam to her work and dropped her off in the parking lot to get her car and her and Ginny’s purses and phones., then headed home with Ginny and the kids. Waving bye to them, she entered the building with her badge.

   The elevator seemed to take forever, but finally arrived and whisked her to her floor. Making her way to her cubical, everyone was asking how Ginny was doing and was happy to hear she was on her way home. Having collected her and Ginny’s things, she made her way down to her car. As she pulled out into traffic, she turned right, headed towards home.

10:25 P.M.

   Man, what a night it had been. All the people at the bar had been total jerks today. Not to mention how stingy they had been, because the tips she had gotten after standing on her feet all day had totaled up to a measly thirty-four dollars and twelve cents. Her boss had called her in to work a double shift. One waitress was down with a cold, and he asked Darby if she could work the noon to 10 shift. She had just left the bar, headed home and was so tired, she felt like her body weighed a thousand pounds. She was just driving past the hospital when her cell phone rang. Someone had pulled out of the parking lot, and would take a right turn. She never saw that Pam, the driver, did not come to a full stop. She looked down to grab her cell phone out of her purse, sitting in the passenger side floorboard. It was the last thing that she would ever do. Darby and Pam both died on impact. Man, what a day.

March 03, 2020 03:33

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Phoebe Barr
19:05 Mar 30, 2020

Damn, that ending really caught me by surprise. I could tell it was building up to something, since the pace of the story seemed pretty slow, but it still hit hard (no pun intended) and I liked the unexpected nature of it. Also, the relationship between Pam and Ginny was very sweet. Nice job writing!


Aisha Hashmi
20:49 Mar 30, 2020

Why thank you! I wanted to make it really an unusual twist in the end, take everyone completely off guard!


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Peter Faur
23:03 Mar 11, 2020

Whoa, that was quite an ending! This is a well-written story, Aisha. It might be interesting to braid in a few more pieces of information about Darby throughout the story, so we see the possibility of Darby and Pam coming together as a kind of climax. Thanks for sharing your story. Keep writing, for sure!


Aisha Hashmi
15:47 Mar 19, 2020

I wanted to take the reader off guard. It was done on purpose.


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17:44 May 05, 2020

Wow, that's what I call an unexpected twist. Good job.


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