KR PENDERGRASS - CALL
KR Pendergrass is a career paramedic, devoted wife, homeschool mom, and part-time member of the justice league. Also the author of the short novel Incompatible With Life, and multiple short stories. Trying to establish a freelance writing career in addition to all that is tough, but if it's easy, it's not worth doing!
Kristy Logan stood alone in the empty bunkroom of the ambulance service she had worked at for over three years. In that three years, it had been her home, her livelihood, and her sanctuary. It had been the place that she could always go, whether she was on duty or not, when she needed somewhere to go. It had been the place where her she could spend time with her friends, catch a nap, and the source of most of her best adventures. She loved the place, and her job. But today it just felt empty.
She heard the laughter of the other crew in the day room, laughing at whatever stupid joke Mikey had made, or something on the TV. The three of them had been there as long as she had, they knew. So why were they laughing and carrying on like today was no different than any other shift? Why weren’t they hurting like she was?
A year ago today, her partner and close friend, Alex Blake, had been killed in a car wreck on his way home from work. He had clocked out, told her he’d see her next shift and that he’d bring the movies next week, gotten in his truck, and left the station. Less than ten minutes later, the call came across the scanner. Less than fifteen and the crew on duty was standing over the body of one of their own, still in uniform. And the world shifted forever. Yet everyone else was acting like it was just another day. She was alone, literally and figuratively, in her grief.
She just couldn't make herself join the rest of them, even though she knew that Alex wouldn't want her to be sad, would do his best to make her smile. But if he were here, she would have no reason not to on this day...
Laying down on her bunk on top of her quilt, she curled into a fetal position, letting the tear roll down her cheek. She hadn't allowed herself to cry for him, not since the funeral, but today it just felt like he was too close. She was glad to avoid being home on this day, her husband was in one of his moods, but she had really expected better than this from her coworkers. She was completely and totally alone.
As she lay there, her phone in her pocket started to ring. As she fished it out, she glanced at the caller ID. It said “Alex”. Not allowing herself to think about that for a second, she answered. “Hello?”
“Hey, Kris!” The deep, jovial voice she had known so well that had never faded in her mind came through the speaker. “We need to talk.”
Kristy sat bolt upright. “Who is this?”
“It's Alex,” the voice said said, as if surprised.
“Alex is dead!” She said, fury growing quickly. “I never had the nerve to delete his number from my phone, and you're some sadistic asshole trying to mess with me! I don't know who you are but I will find out!”
“Alex Michael Blake, unit number 635, your partner, best friend, and the only other person who liked chicken on pizza besides you. You're Kristina Dawn Logan, my EMT partner, love horror movies, even though they give you nightmares.”
Kristy growled. “Anyone here would know that!”
The voice lowered. “You keep your dad's badge in a secret compartment in your purse ever since he died. Now, listen, Kid, I don't have much time!”
All doubts fell away. Her sister didn't even know that. “Alex?”
The voice picked up some urgency. “It's really me, Kris. Please listen, ok? There's a lot I never got to tell you, and I don't have much time.
“Time? For what? I mean, you're...”
The voice sighed. “I am dead, I don't know the how, and there's stuff you need to know. I know a lot more than I did so just listen. Hot just with your ears, you know? Really listen. This is future stuff, ok?”
“Ok, I'm listening,” She said. All disbelief and questions were on hold as she listened.
“Kid, no matter what you think, you have to know that you are strong. Stronger than you can imagine right now, but remember when you need to be that I'm telling you that you are. Can you remember that? Remember when you need to be strong that I am telling you that you are, and that you will do what's best. Not necessarily what's right, because there's not always a right, but what is best for you and-” There was a loud squealing noise, and the Alex was back. “Sorry, I can't say that. Anyway, can you remember that? Say it.”
“I- I'm strong,” Kris said, fighting back tears. “And I'll do what's best.”
“Ok, the next thing is that you are smarter than you know. You are smart enough to do whatever you want to. I know what you want, and so do you. So stop doubting yourself and do it!”
“Don't kid! You can. Be strong, know you're smart, believe in yourself! And if you don't believe in yourself, trust me, ok?” The line got staticky on the last word. “Kid, I gotta go. Trust me, remember what I said. Proud of you, girl, and I-”
“Hey, Kristy!” yelled a voice from outside the room. “We got a run!”
The phone beeped suddenly, and the screen showed no signal. She stood up quickly, yelling “Be right there!” to Mikey before looking at the phone again. It had service again, so she went to the call log. The last call was from a telemarketer at 9 am. Nothing from a quarter after one that afternoon.
“You coming?” asked Mikey from the hallway. He startled her, and she dropped that phone. It shattered into pieces on the industrial tile on the floor. She shrieked and grabbed for the pieces, hurriedly putting it back together.
“I'm sorry I scared ya,” Mikey said, kneeling to help her pick up the components of her phone. “It's just not like you to not rush off on a run.” His smile turned into a sympathetic look. “Hey, it's ok. You just gotta put it back together and it will work just fine...”
Kristy nodded, and went about putting the phone back together and got on with the run. Her phone worked perfectly, but somehow her contacts list was missing one number.
Six months later, the pregnancy test showed a little pink plus sign. Kristy was ecstatic. Her husband was less so, his usual temper multiplying into a punch to the abdomen. From the hospital, after being sure the baby was ok, Kristy went straight to an attorney's office.
The divorce was final two months after her son, Alex Blake Logan, was born. The ER doctor from the last day they were a family was her star witness, and she got full custody, with no visitation and a restraining order.
Baby Alex was barely walking when his momma decided she wanted to be a paramedic. He was a sweet, cheery baby and though he chewed on her pharmacology one night while teething, he was as supportive as a toddler could be. He was in preschool and talking clearly when she graduated college as a paramedic, and sat happily on a bench munching on graham crackers when they went straight from the ceremony to a cemetery and his momma talked to a headstone and cried.
He grew up knowing that his momma was the strongest woman he would ever know, leaving his dangerous father to protect him and raising him on her own. She was also the smartest, putting herself through college while raising him, and carrying him with her as she walked across the stage to get her diploma. She had told him about his namesake, a paramedic she had once worked with, but it seemed like there was more to the story. He wished he had gotten to meet him.
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