Disclaimer: I don't own anything or anyone associated with Joan of Arcadia and I'm getting no money (and losing a little sleep) from this story.
This story assumes that facts presented in "A Life Worth Living" are true. Beth is a freshman at Arizona State University while Kevin and Andy are seniors at Jefferson High School. See Chapter 3 of the afore mentioned story for clarification. There really aren't spoilers for the actual show. Consider this a companion piece.
Why I Hate Alexander Graham Bell, By Beth Reinhart
The phone rang. How many history-changing events began with a ringing phone? Well, probably none before the phone was invented, but I'm assuming that pretty much every one since then. I mean, the President has the Red Phone, or maybe that's just Commissioner Gordon. Anyway, it's always that way in the movies. Some woman answers the phone, her hand flies to her throat and then she collapses into a swoon onto the couch, or chaise lounge or whatever. That's how bad news is delivered.
If you don't answer, they can still leave a message. Hopefully, it will be something like, "Please call me back as soon as you get this," but this girl on my hall, Jessie, said that her friend James left a message on her machine saying "Did you hear about John? Well, he died," when their friend had been killed the day before. Luckily, she had heard, but still, someone was making sure that she got the message. Wow.
I think if you asked most people, they would prefer to pass along the bad news in a face-to-face format. Unfortunately, that's not always possible. Letters take to long, e-mail is too impersonal (and cowardly), so we're left with the phone. Nine hundred ninety-nine thousand nine hundred ninety times out of a million, the phone ringing isn't bad news, per se. Sometimes it's good news, but usually it's just neutral or a telemarketer (I've gotta get on that no-call list). So, it's really better odds than the lottery that when you pick up the phone it won't be someone telling you that your world just crashed down around you. But, if you are going to be told, it's probably going to be on the phone.
Which brings me back to mine, which rang about an hour ago. It was my dad, and he used "that" tone of voice. My dad's a doctor. I've heard it before, like when he comes home from work after he's seen something really terrible and has to tell my mom about it so that he won't explode inside. Like when my grandma died of a heart attack when I was in fourth grade. I think that might have been the first time I ever remember him using it when he was talking to me. Today was the second. As if on cue, I sank onto my bed. I'm not sure if I grabbed my throat or not, and my roommate wasn't here to verify for me. Oh well, maybe I'm not cut out for the movies after all (Not that I ever really thought I was). So, back to my dad, and hearing his doctor voice on the phone, I was sitting on the bed waiting for him to tell me who was dead. I was thinking a grandparent or great uncle or something, but it wasn't any of them.
He starts by asking me if I had gone to a party the night before. I had, and then I went straight to the airport and took an earlier flight back to school. He starts to ask what happened, but I interrupt. Please tell me what's wrong. I know full well that something has happened to one of my friends. He begins the entire scenario. He doesn't use a lot of medical terminology, but he might as well be speaking Hebrew (I studied French, Greek and Russian, so Hebrew is one that I don't know). In my head, I'm forming a stupid rhyme, Andy and Kevin got in the car, Andy and Kevin didn't get far. I can't seem to concentrate on what he's saying. I think I shake my head to clear it. I hear him say that Andy will be fine, just minor injuries. Then he stops, like he's waiting for me to ask about Kevin. I'm a good daughter, so I do. I hear him sigh, he's either really tired or trying not to cry. I think it's probably a little bit of both. He says that Kevin is in critical condition and they didn't think he would make it through the night. But he did, so now it's just a waiting game. That's what dad calls it, and I think this is good. Kevin almost always wins games. I beat him at Trivial Pursuit once, so he wouldn't play it again, but usually, he wins games. I feel foolish for that thought because that's not the kind of game that he's talking about, but maybe it kind of is. He says that he doesn't know anything else and that he has to get back to the hospital, so he'll call me later. He asks if I'm ok. I say sure. I'll be fine and so will Kevin. My dad says he'll watch out for him for me until I can make it home. I don't tell him that I'm not coming back for a while.
We both hang up and now I'm sitting here, not really swooning, on my bed. My hand is nowhere near my throat, and I'm not terribly upset. I'm still mad at Kevin, and I have a date in two hours. Does that make me a horrible person? Probably, I'm just in shock. Kevin is tough, the toughest person I've ever met. He took a beating every Friday night on that football field and was usually bloodied and bruised after every practice. He'll be fine.
The phone rings again. It's Andy's sister Finola. She asks if I know what happened. I know that Kevin's in the hospital and that Andy will be ok. She tells me that the police arrested Andy, and Kevin might die. That's what the police told them. Kevin's dad is the police. This must be true. My dad is the doctor. Shouldn't he know? Finola says that she doesn't know, just that it's really bad. She asks if I know what happened, why they left in Andy's car after they had been drinking. I tell her that I have no idea. That's a lie. I know exactly why they left and why they wrecked into a tree less than a mile from my house, but I'm not getting into that now and hopefully not ever. She says she will keep me informed and I thank her.
I hang up and place another call. My hands are starting to shake now. My throat feels scratchy. I think about grabbing it. The call goes through, so I have to talk. Sorry, can't make it tonight. Something came up, not feeling well. Sure, maybe another time, I'd like that. No, no, I'm fine, probably just jet lag. Absolutely, next weekend. It's a date. I place the phone on the table beside my bed. I need a nap.
The phone keeps ringing. I check the name and number before answering. Every call is someone from home, from high school. They want to know what I know and how I know and who told me. I'm not dealing with that now. I turn off the phone and decide that I'll call my house when I wake up and I'll talk to my dad. He'll tell me the truth, and I don't want to hear the horrible rumors. People might already be thinking that it's my fault, and if they aren't, I'm not going to be the one to tell them. What if he's not fine? How does that change my life? What a terribly selfish thing to think. I'm not ready to be grown-up yet. Something tells me that I'd better prepare. All because of the stupid phone and it's stupid bad news.
Talk about a river in Egypt...