The Phone-call

By Illusionary Ghost (a.k.a. Yashira)

(Just a short one shot. It was something that popped into my head at work. I wondered what would happen if Phoenix was depressed and needed a pick-me-up.)

What ifs are powerful things. They can lead you down paths you never once believed in. Chosen paths suddenly become translucent and then brittle, shattering underfoot without so much as a tiny step. They can... Wait, what am I doing? Gah. I feel like such a fake - such a imposter - like one of those multi-coloured costumed clowns with the slip-slop feet you see in the circus. Oh, I'm sure you know the kind. White painted face, red streaked lips gripped in some farce of an exaggerated grin. The very ones who seek to entertain you, to trick the eye into seeing only the laughs and the hilarity of the moment, but all the while they're brooding in lonely, bitter darkness.

Woah, dark thoughts, even for me. I know, I know, they don't seem to match my easy-going and friendly nature and I'm not usually this depressing, really. Pragmatic, quick and practical, that's me. So what has me thinking like this?

Mia.

Glancing at my calendar, the one I tend to flip through too often to the point of it now looking as crinkled and pathetic as me in my crumpled, slept in blue suit, I can't help but stare at the date. The day, she died. Mia. If I had only be there sooner instead of languishing elsewhere. God, I can't even remember what I was doing when I walked into the room like that. I just remember -

The phone rings, a welcome interlude to that image burnt into the back of my skull, and I search my desk for that damn phone. I really need to clean up around here. Books and file folders along with empty pizza boxes and Chinese take out (courtesy of one hungry assistant) are strewn everywhere. To say it's starting to look like a pigsties is being kind - the place looks like it was hit by Hurricane Maya. "Yeah, hello. This is Nick. Eh? Mia?!" My heart's racing, bumping so hard in my throat that it's hard to breathe. First thoughts are telling me this is impossible. She's dead. Gone. "Um, no, this isn't obscene breathing. Sorry, I was just a little surprised." I know I must sound embarrassed, I can feel the heat in my cheeks rise with her soft, accusing laughter. This has to be Maya channelling Mia. The question is why? It's 3:00 a.m. in the morning and my assistant has taken the weekend off to do some medium training at Kurain Village with Pearl.

We can honestly leave out anything to do with crushes or silly-girl fancies, Maya and I are purely platonic. And besides... this is Mia's voice not Maya's. It would really be an odd and roundabout way to talk to someone. "Oh, yeah. Business is doing fine. It's the same thing really? He's guilty! No, he's not! Wait, you're right, he's not! NOT GUILTY! You know the drill really, Mia. You're usually there."

A soft, warm chuckle, the kind that caresses softer than silk, and my head tilts to the side with an embarrassed smile plastered on my face. I don't know what it is, but it calms me to hear that tone in her laughter. It makes me feel safe, secure... as if I'm returning to yesteryear where all my worries and problems seemed minuscule. To some spot in the past where I was simply her junior and not the experienced defence lawyer I am now. ...to when she was alive. "Yeah about that," I don't know if it's the hour that making me feel overly talkative, or the warmth in her voice pulling at me, but I can't stop myself. Words can be power, but they can also be a trap. "Thanks, for being there. Without you, I would have failed a lot of people." Forlorn, left to hang like a pair of forgotten boxers on the clothe-line in a storm, I know I sound rather self-pitying. Pathetic.

There's silence on the line and I think for one horrifying moment she's gone again and that I'll hear Maya's confused, surprised voice sputtering shortly. I'm close to calling out her name, to throw the net into the wind even though it'll come back without her, but she speaks again. This time there's a sternness in her voice which I did not expect. It stills me, makes me stand as if struck dumbfounded. Of course everything she's telling me is right. She may be the guiding hand, but no one said I had to always do things alone... to flounder without help. It's not a crime if there's someone there to lend a hand, the real crime would be to let that person sink. To let them falter without aid and besides... in the end I didn't shut her out. I looked for her, though she was more memory than substance now, and I listened while she reached out. She was always there, waiting to be heard.

Because I didn't forget about her either.

What's this? Something wet slides down my face? Tears? Why should I even be crying? Is it something in her tone? Is it the fact that I, in my puppy-dog state of being, did not realize that she felt the same way. Two halves of the same coin spinning - not able to see the other side, but still there - back to back.... supporting each other.

I shut my eyes for a moment. Mia. Thank you.

I'm not sure when the call ended. One moment, I was sitting hunched over on the couch with the phone receiver cradled against my ear and then the next moment, I'm face down in the cushions with the phone cord tangled around my hand. Great. Was I dreaming? I have to admit, I can have some lucid thoughts when I'm sleeping on a couch in my offices surrounded by the wreck left in Hurricane Maya's wake. I need to stop working late. What was I thinking?

But the phone is in my hand? I know lots of people sleepwalk and do all sorts of weird things in their sleep, but I'm not one of them. I know I can be pretty farfetched at times, but I haven't cross that line when I start acting out in dreams yet. I hope.

Stretching out the uncomfortable creaks in my back as I get up to return the dead phone to my desk, I think about last night's call. No, not a dream. I really should thank Maya for summoning Mia for me. I don't know how she knew I needed someone to talk to like that, but I'm glad she did. It made me remember things I should never have forgotten. Reaching for the phone, my fingers ready to dial her cell, I stop abruptly.

No dial tone.

Did I kick out the plug? It's not a hard thing to trace the cord and reattach the plug into the socket, but something nags at me. How could I kick this out? There's a cover over the darn thing and I'd have to press the sides to release it. It's really weird. I'm still tracing the cord when my face turns ashen white.

I unplugged it last night when I was fiddling with the office internet (something I still can't get to work, ugh) and out of sheer frustration for my computer illiteracy I forgot to plug the cord back into the jack when I banged the back of my head under my desk.

Click.

Good. It's back in, but that begs the question on how did I get that call from Maya/Mia? I quickly dial her number with that conundrum on my mind, but she's not answering. Voicemail?

"Hi, this is Maya, I'm not in right now cuz OH MY GOD IT'S SO AWESOME TO GET FREE TICKETS TO THE Steel Samurai convention!!! I'm there with Pearly, but I will be back in a few days. Leave a message and I might get back to you. Hey, if this is Nick calling, you better put your phone back on the hook, I've been trying to call you all morning! I have an extra ticket for you. You're so mean not to take my ca- BEEEEP!" Seems like she forgot she only had a limited timer for her message. Gah. So she was trying to get a hold of me and...

But then who called me? Pearly's with Maya, she said as much, but then....

Impossible.

How then... did Mia call me?