Why I don’t give out my cell number

It’s just about 5 p.m. and my list is mostly done and I’m ready to sit for a while, actually relax on my day off.

The last of the laundry is drying on the line; fresh, crisp sheets smelling of cut grass and sunshine are piled on the bed; the house is clean and even the fridge has been wiped down, a job I hate and so often leave undone.

My face is still flushed from running in the late afternoon and my hair is wet when he hands me the phone.

And this, I think, is why I don’t give out my cell phone number.

Because it’s 5 p.m. and even if I weren’t off today, even if energy ran strong still and I wanted to pull together quotes and comments and pages from the legal brief, even if I wanted to do all that — it’s after 5 p.m. and the courthouse is closed and I can’t get a copy before 8:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.

I thank him for the call, and I am grateful; at least I know what I’m walking into tomorrow morning. I won’t be surprised when I check my email and see my Google alerts telling me what someone else wrote.

But there’s nothing I can do tonight. And now I’m thinking about it, about who I need to call and how I keep making that long drive to the courthouse by the river and whether anyone will actually pick up his phone.

Attorneys don’t tend to sit around, taking my calls.

I’m running through the background I need to include, and mentally cutting comments because really, we’ve talked about this all before. All I need is the legal information. I glance at the kitchen calendar and note the hearing date; a Tuesday.

And I have dinner to fix and I promised to drop by a friend’s house, learn how to care for her cat and dog while she goes out of town, and he said he might stop at Dairy Queen for ice cream. I’ve got several hours left of this, my day off, and I want to enjoy them.

But I’m thinking about his phone call. I’m thinking that we’ve been here before, same defendants, same attorneys. I’m thinking that I wish I hadn’t given him my cell number, and that I must have crossed some barrier because now they’re calling me, making sure I know right away, and I’m glad.

They’re far away and I’m glad they thought to call me.

He stands beside me in the narrow kitchen, peeling potatoes while I dice garlic and try to come back home, to here and now, and leave tomorrow’s deadline efforts to tomorrow. We talk about clothes to buy before the fall, and when to go to the grocery store, and how if they keep calling I need to ask about reimbursement. I have limited minutes, you know.

I’m glad they thought to call me, I think.

I just wish they hadn’t called me at home. Or that I could set aside the questions when I hung up the phone, leave it alone until the morning.

And I need to reinstate my policy of never giving out my cell phone number.


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