Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Other Side


                                   'Hello I'd like to speak to Nan please.'

Today they were playing 'Stairway to Heaven' on a loop, great song, but it was a bit much after over an hour of waiting.

Thank you for waiting, if you'd like to call back later the phone lines are open until 5 00 pm.

It was always nine till bloody five. Every Sunday without fail, nine till five. You couldn't complain though because it was a great service. Unbeatable.

There was a website too. You can write a message at any time of the week, you just don't get a reply. But that's what the phone lines were for. But leaving a message on the website helped. It helped Bryan. He liked to know his loved one's were receiving his messages. It was an incredible comfort and all his spare time was spent on there.

Thank you for waiting, if you'd like to call back later the phones lines are open until 5 00 pm.

He was always on edge when he was waiting but you left your request and waited. There wasn't anything else you could do. Most weeks he wanted Nan and got Nan. She was a phone-a-holic when she was alive and she didn't seem to have changed much on the other side. But occasionally she was unavailable but there was always somebody waiting to talk to him.

Waiting costs money but he didn't have to worry too much about that side of things. He had a well paid job and it was well worth every penny. It was £3.50 a minute but that was still cheaper than paying some middle aged (and probably very overweight and hairy) woman to talk you through a decent wank.

Thanks for waiting, if you'd like to call back later the phones lines are open until 5 00 pm.

Mind you the phone got answered a damn site quicker on the sex lines.

'Nan? Is That Nan?'

'Hello Bryan, no it's Madge Honey.'

Madge again. She was answering the phone a bit to much recently. He didn't mind too much, anybody was better than nobody, but he hardly knew the woman. Some relative of his Nan's, three or four times removed. He'd never even met the woman but she seemed to want to know him inside out.

'Hi Madge. How are you?'

She was belting. She was always belting.Say what you wanted about Madge but she was always belting. She didn't half go on a bit though in her broad, if a little put on Northern accent. She could talk the head off a vacuum cleaner salesman and spit him out again before you could get two words out.

She didn't half sound like Nan though. Funny that. And Aunty Irene and Aunty Beatrice and Great Nan Esther. I guess they all grew up around the same area or maybe Heaven does that to you. You end up talking the same.

'Madge, can I ask you a question?'

'Yes Dear of course but you know we can't tell you too much. Some things are meant to be secrets.'

Bryan had been thinking about this all night and he didn't hold up much hope but there was no harm in trying.

'What do you do?'


'Well what do you do up there in Heaven? Do you work? Do you have fun? What's it like?'

Bryan waited. It wasn't like Madge to hold her breath for more than two seconds. But there was stuff that he really wanted to know. Eventually you got to the point where a conversation with a loved one wasn't quite enough.You wanted, needed more.

'Bryan you know we can't talk about things like that.'

'Well why not? All you all seem to do is ask questions about me and what I do. Can't you tell me a bit about what it's like over there instead?'

'Please Sweety you know we can't.'

'Please? Can't you tell me a little bit?'

'No Honey but go on tell me, how's work going? How's the family? Is your mum still going to badminton on a Wednesday?

She wasn't biting but he was half expecting it. So it was time to try out something else.

'Nan, do you remember when we all used to turn up at your front door at Christmas.?'

'Yes Dear.'

'It was fun wasn't it Nan? The whole family sat around your front room table eating the biggest turkey in the whole world.'

'It sure was Sweety.'

'That's good but I thought you were Madge, not my Nan.'

There was pause and something incomprehensible was mumbled on the other side of the receiver.



Thanks for waiting, if you'd like to call back later the phones lines are open until 5 00 pm.



                                                                              (C) Ally Atherton



                     799 Words

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