When a caller gets a wrong number and accidentally calls Gabriella, how will each respond to the situation? Will the wrong number turn out to be the right number?
"How odd, having to work a split one day, and then expecting you back in at 6 am," Sharon was saying to me as we clocked out.
"Yes, but that's the wonderful part about being a nurse," I quipped back. Pushing my unruly brown curls out of my eyes, I squinted out into the darkness."It doesn't look like the security guy is even out there."
"Don't be so uptight, Gabriella," Sharonscolded. "You'd think you were the one in your fifties and I was in my twenties." She started off across the parking lot, then stopped short and let out a piercing scream.
"What? What is it?" I asked, running up to her, but she'd already collapsed in a fit of giggles.
"Gotcha," she said with a twinkle in her eye. "Now go, get some rest."
"Sometimes I think you were sent here to torture me," I mumbled, turning towards my car and walking briskly.
"Honey, you could use a stiff drink," she called after me with a laugh, "or just something stiff...or both."
I put my fingers in my ears and singsonged "La la la la la" so I couldn't hear the rest of what she had to say. She sounded so much like my friends it was almost as if she'd been speaking with them... wait, that's right, she had. She'd come along on girls night a couple weeks before, getting nice and toasty along with my three best... well, okay, only friends. I was designated driver, of course. What did they know, anyhow? Who were they to judge whether or not Ineeded to loosen up, and be the "old" me again? I wasn't a teenager anymore, thank you very much, and doing just fine all by myself. My life didn't need anything to stir it up... but that's just what happened.
I can remember exactly when and how it started... I was in the middle of ablissful slumber, my dreams taking me to far away lands. The breeze was tousling my hair as I gazed up at the warm summer sun. Not a cloud in the sky, not another soul around... just that damn annoying phone ringing. Where was that coming from?
I rolled over and looked at the clock, groaning out loud as I saw the glaring red 2:35 staring at me. The phone had continued to ring, over and over, as if the person on the other end didn't grasp the concept of time, or voice mail for that matter. Angrily, I picked up the receiver and said "Who the hell is this and what do you want?"
"I'm sorry I woke you," a heavenly male voice with the most incredible timbre was saying, "but I'm looking for John."
"John? There's no John here," I snapped.
"This is 937-555-1820, right?" he asked.
"Yes, but there's no John here. And if you were going to prank me, you could have come up with something better than that."
"Why not ask for Mr. Pedaso? You know, first name Stu," I suggested, rubbing sleep from my eyes. Why was I even talking to this person? Why not hang up and try to get some rest?
"I'm not pranking you, and I don't know a Stu Ped..." he stopped and laughed."That was good, that was very good."
"Thank you," I mumbled, flopping down on my back, staring up at the ceiling."But there's no John here, really."
"This was the number he gave me, I swear," the man on the other line said.
"He gave you a wrong number." With that, I put the receiver back in its cradle. I stared at it for a moment, wondering if perhaps I recognized this person's voice from somewhere. What if he was in some kind of trouble? What if it was atrue emergency?
The phone rang again. Why was he calling me again?
I knew it couldn't possibly be anyone else, at least no one who actually knew me. I glared angrily at the phone, willing it to stop, but knowing that it wouldn't, I picked it up again.
"Honest, I'm not pranking you, and I just wanted to tell you I'm very sorry."He sounded so sincere to me (or was it just that soothing tone?) that Icouldn't yell the obscenities that had popped into my brain.
"Ok, so you're sorry. And this isn't a prank call. Could you have at least waited until a decent hour to call back and apologize?" I asked. Lying back into my pillows, I watched the moonlight cast an eerie shadow down the wall as I heard him breathe in sharply.
"Perhaps because I've had a bit much to drink, and was afraid that I would forget at a decent hour," he replied. I felt myself fighting back a grin that was threatening just beneath the surface.
"Ok, apology accepted. My alarm goes off in two hours,"
"Wonderful! So you have time to chat," he interrupted me.
"You don't even know who I am, I don't know who you are, why would I want to chat with you?" I asked, unable to hide my amusement.
"Well... I know you're not John," he said, and I stifled a giggle. "So what is your name?"
"Not telling," I said, almost childlike. "Who are you?"
"Well that's an odd name... and a lame joke to go along with it. 'Ello Not Telling, nice to make your acquaintance."
"Oh, that was bad," I laughed. "And you are?"
"I'm not John," he started.
"You can't be Not John, I'm Not John," I cut him off, giggling in spite of myself. 'It's the lack of sleep, Gabriella. That's what it is.'
"You can't be Not John because you're Not Telling."
"Ok, fine, I'll be Not Telling, and you can be Not John."
"Right," that soothing voice crooned to me, almost like an aphrodisiac. "I'm Not John. Well, except I know Johns, lots of them, some of them it's their last name, kinda... but I'm not that John."
"What?" I asked, confused yet school girlishly giggling.
"I'm not that John," he started to explain. "And, ok not technically a John, or that kind of john either, or the other, but...what? Why are you laughing?" I was wiping a tear from my eye that had formed while I was stifling my laughter, and only managed another half attempt of asking him what in the world he was saying in his drunken state. "Ok, fine we'll just stick to the original... you're Not Telling, and I'm Not John. Except I am, in this conversation..."
"Just not that John," I repeated. "And not really a John at all. Is it your middle name?"
"Nope," he replied.
"Ok, I think I've got it," I said.
"And now you know more about me than I do you, soooooooo, so, yeah, right, um...what was I saying? Not Telling and Not John, right... are you alright there?"
"I dunno, I'm talking to a stranger in the middle of the night who's probably some freakish stalker and..."
"And what?" he asked, as if what we were doing was completely normal.
"And laughing more than I have in ages," I admitted, absentmindedly putting ahand on my cheek, as if feeling a smile was foreign.
"Right, right... I'm good for a laugh, so I've been told." His voice trailed off a bit, and I wondered if that was meant to be funny. He almost sounded sad..."Look, I'm sorry, I shouldn't be bothering you like this, you're right. It's the middle of the night, and the wrong number, like you said."
"Not John," he corrected me, then laughed softly to himself. "I'll have to remember that one."
"Christine," I said suddenly, not realizing I'd blurted out my middle name until it had left my lips. "And you don't have to go, really."
"Christine...that's beautiful," he breathed, and I could hear him take another drink.
"But not really Christine, and the joke can only go that far because I don't think anything else is called Christine... except that car, and I'm not a car. It's my middle name."
"Your middle name... how nice, now I know something about you." I heard him take another drink, but the laughter was gone from his voice. "Again, I apologize for waking you. Goodnight Not Telling." I smiled wistfully.
"Good night, Not John." After I heard the tell-tale click on the other end of the line, I hung up.
Damn that man on the other end of my phone, I wasn't able to get back to sleep. I searched the caller id, but found that the originating number had been blocked, so I couldn't call him back. Not that I would. Ever. Really, I swear, I wouldn't have. But it didn't help my next day at work, attempting to function at a high level on about two hours of sleep.
"Gabriella, are you in there?" Sharonwas asking. I smiled softly and nodded, concentrating on a medication order as if I couldn't understand what was written. "I know, coming in here so early after getting off at midnight... sucks doesn't it?"
"Mmm hmm," was my only response. I only had an hour to go on my shift, then Iplanned on taking a nap before the girls showed up for our weekly outing. Ihadn't told Sharonabout my late night phone call, and hadn't quite decided if I wanted to tell the girls or not. It almost seemed like a betrayal of sorts if I told anyone, and I didn't even know who he was. I was looking forward to sleep, and yet hoping it would be interrupted by him again, even if it was just for me to ask what I'd said that had upset him.
"And your head certainly isn't a million miles away, is it?" It was more of an observation than a question that Sharonwas giving.
"Not at all, and I can't read Doc's writing," I quickly changed the subject. Barely glancing down at the paper, she looked up at me and rattled off the medication order. "I'm just tired, really."
"Oh, speaking of tired, Robert wants us to have a night in this evening, so Iwon't be able to go with you this week."
"There's always next week," I said with a smile.
"Tell ya what, sweetie, next week I'll drive," she offered, and I shook my head. "What do you mean, no? You're the one that needs to relax and have a good time; I do that any time I please."
"You just nothing," she cut me off. "Now listen, let me take over for you for the next hour, you just go home. Get some rest, and maybe one of the other girls will drive you tonight." I opened my mouth to protest, but she gave me the infamous Mom look, so I decided against it.
My mind was in such a haze that I barely remembered driving home, let alone crawling into bed. I do know that I'd set my alarm to give me an hour to get ready before the night out, and I just knew I had to drive. It wasn't that Taylor, Kelsi, or Sharpay wouldn't drive, because I knew that any of them would. I just knew that if I had any amount of alcohol in me, I'd be spilling the beans about my mystery caller, and I wasn't quite ready to do that. I don't know why I'm so guarded about my life, especially with them. Isn't that what friends are for?
I'd probably been asleep for a good two hours when the phone rang. My heart jumped into my throat, and I immediately scrambled for the phone. "Hello?" I said, trying my hardest to sound friendly.
"Oh, yay, Gabi's in a good mood!" Taylorsaid with absolute glee. "Sharpay said she's driving tonight, so we'll be picking you up about 7."
"Maybe I should drive, I'm really tired..."
"Actually, being tired is the perfect reason for you to not to drive, so don't argue with me because you know I'm right. Now...what's gotten you in such afabulous mood?"
"Can I plead the fifth?" I asked, a smile crossing my face.
"Oh hell no you don't, you'd better spill. What's his name?"
"I don't know... and really, there isn't anything to tell, I swear." I heard acommotion in the background, and Kelsi picked up one of the extensions.
"You've been holding out on us," she said, and I laughed.
"No, I haven't, really,"
"She's lying," Taylorinterrupted.
"I say we pour large amounts of alcohol down her throat," Kelsi suggested.
"And then we'll make you talk," Taylorfinished. Ah, the joys of having friends.
"Are you going to sick Sharpay on me too?" I asked, giggling.
"She's not here right now; she's taking a nap," Taylor replied.
"How's come she's driving when she's taking a nap, but I take a nap and I'm not allowed to drive?" I know my question didn't make much sense, but nothing had made much sense for the past few hours.
"Um, Gabi... she's not going to be taking a nap when she's driving," was Taylor's smartass reply.
"I asked for that, didn't I?"
"I'd say so, wouldn't you agree Kelsi?"
"She's losing it, Taylor."
"I so am not!" I exclaimed, but my smile gave away my lightheartedness. 'Can you actually hear someone smile through a phone?' I wondered.
"This calls for much Stoli," Taylorsaid. "Perhaps some cran with it... or some...what the fuck is that stuff she drinks?"
"Kahlua," Kelsi answered.
"You don't need to speak about me in the third person," I attempted to disrupt their conversation.
"It's a bit froo froo for me, but if it'll get her drunk and talking..."
"I'm so not talking, Taylor."
"That's funny, 'cause I hear your voice," Kelsi quipped, and Taylor was soon to agree.
"Ok, I'm going back to sleep now, the two of you can do your evil planning without me being involved. Just know that it won't work."
"Says who?" Kelsi asked, and I laughed.
"Goodbye," I said, still giggling, and I hung up. So maybe they were right; maybe I did need to relax and just have a good time tonight. I smiled again as the phone rang almost immediately, and without hesitation, I answered. "I'm still not drinking tonight."
"I didn't know drinking was a requirement." Oh...OH! Phone guy....Not John... calling me again! What do I say? How do I say it? "Are you still there, or have you hung up on me?"
"I'm here," I replied. "Hello, Not John."
"Ah, it is you. 'Ello Not Telling; I was concerned that perhaps I'd gotten the wrong number... or the right one this time...or the incorrect wrong number" I wanted to laugh, but was afraid that I would offend him again.
"Are you angry with me?" I asked, almost regretting it almost immediately.
"No, of course not." Again with the soothing tones, and I relaxed back into my pillows. "I was afraid you were angry with me."
"I was just wondering why you hung up so quickly."
"So you could sleep. You sounded exhausted."
"What?" It was more of a mock exclamation, and I allowed myself to laugh.
"You so didn't care if I was tired."
"You hurt me with your words, Not Telling. And how would you know whether or not I was concerned? You don't know me, remember?"
"I'm glad you called again," I admitted, then buried my face in my hands as if he could see me blushing.
"Are you, really?" There was no amusement in his voice, just a trace of sadness.
"Yes," I said quietly. "And, just for the record, I didn't go back to sleep."
"So I could have kept you on the phone as long as I wanted then? Damn, so much for chivalry."
"Just until I had to get ready for work." What was I doing? What was I saying? Was I inviting some stranger to phone me all hours of the night?
Of course I was.
"So what time do you work tomorrow?" he asked.
"I don't; I have the day off."
"Perfect. So I can call you later?"
"You can't stay on now?" I could hardly believe that question had come from me.
"Hell no, I need my sleep." He hadn't even finished the sentence before he was laughing. "I'm sorry... I actually have somewhere I have to be. I didn't want to phone you late if it would make you angry."
"That's sweet... not that you gave a damn last night." We both laughed at the comment, then I asked, "Did you get ahold of John?"
"Uh...no, no I haven't. I may have just gotten the numbers backwards; I'm horrible with that."
"It's not always a bad thing." Ack! Was I flirting with him? Bad Gabriella, bad!
"No it isn't." His words were slowed, as if he was letting the meaning of them sink in. "Damn... I have to go now. Are you sure it's alright?"
"Alright then... until later, Not Telling."
Wow, what do you know? You can hear a smile.