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The Call This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


Four days I’ve known you, and where do I find myself?
With fingers hovering over a telephone’s buttons,
dialing the one number I’ve been taught since age four
is “only for emergency use.”
I can picture you with that pill bottle in your quivering hand
thinking that this time, just maybe, your attempt will work
and you’ll never be seen or known again.
What it is that makes you do this, I will never know
and I mention that to the operator
who types all the information I have for him
into a computer at the Crisis Center.

I rattle off your phone number, high school,
and scour my brain for any other little details I can recall.
Anything that might help the ambulance get to you
before anything too terrible can happen,
and before your time runs out.

Four days and where do I find myself?
Fetal position on a mattress on the floor
staring at a clock, knowing the sooner they find you, the better
and trying unsuccessfully to hold back tears.
I hyperventilate and try to shake
the awful feeling that the ambulance is
too late,
while doing all I can to not break down
completely.
I force a steel curtain in front of my eyes, blocking out
the image of you in a hospital bed and gown,
getting your stomach pumped.

The outline of my cell phone ends up imprinted
into my palm, after being clutched for at least an hour,
as I try to crush it,
angry at an inanimate object solely because if it weren’t for it
I never would’ve gotten the message saying
that you swallowed much too many
Advil, Nyquil, and Tylenol
and I never would’ve had to tell on you.

I worry about what will happen when
you find out that I called the police, I messed up your plans,
and I imagine it like tattling in grade school once was,
worrying that the next time I see you, you’ll be filled
with steely glares and zipped-up lips, acting like nothing happened,
wishing I had never made the call.

More than that, I brace myself for the worst,
that rather than living long enough to develop a hatred for me,
you spend your night lying on a bedroom floor
more than a thousand miles away
eyes closed and mouth shut, never to reopen.

Four days and where do I find myself?
Sliding open and unlocking my phone to find a message from
none other than your number, stating not to worry, it’s nothing too terrible,
but that “something happened” and you will
“be in the hospital for quite some time,” and that you won’t be at school
for awhile but that things would be okay,
and not to ask questions.

I can’t bring myself to reply.
choking back tears again, this time I’m more than thrilled
knowing that you’re safe and getting help,
whether self-sought or not.
I realize that you’re presently in an emergency room,
soon to arrive in intensive care, and with limited or no access to
a cell phone or computer that I could use to communicate with you.
I realize that it could take weeks, if not months, before the
depression and suicidal thoughts will go away,
not to mention uncountable hours of therapy and even
numerous medications.

I don’t care about that, though.
I just care that you’re safe.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

ashleyn said...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm:
Amazing! I love it!
 
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jcampgirl said...
Mar. 28, 2011 at 8:29 pm:
Wow truly amazing I love it
 
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