She listened for a moment more. Finally, she hung up, gently, the voice on the other end still echoing in her mind. She wanted to throw the phone, to scream and cry and break something, but she didn’t.
David couldn’t be dead. But the disembodied voice on the other end had confirmed so in a brief sentence laced with a touch of sympathy. “Mrs. Whiting? This is Sergeant Ingram. I have some bad news. Your husband, David, was killed in a one-car accident on I-94.”
Anne-Marie felt proud of herself. No histrionics, no screams of “Oh, my god, no!” Just a quiet “Thank you” before she disconnected. She felt calm, detached. This must be what shock feels like.
The phone slipped from her slack fingers, a corner striking the laminate wood floor with a clatter. She didn’t notice, didn’t care.
A plaintive whimper brought her back to the present and she reached down to scratch the triangular ears of her German Shepherd guide dog, Socrates. He licked her hand in empathy, sensing her grief.
Anne-Marie sighed, kneeling before Socrates and burying her face in his thick warm fur. Her stockinged foot touched the phone and she reached down to retrieve it. She flipped it open. “Call Diane.” A robotic voice obeyed, “Calling Diane.”
Five rings later, she was ready to hang up when Diane’s voice filtered through the fiber optic cables, rushed and gravelly from smoking too many cigarettes. “Anne-Marie!”
“David’s dead,” Anne-Marie choked out.
“The police sergeant called a few minutes ago.”
Silence on the other end. A prolonged quiet that made Anne-Marie’s skin prickle with an uncomfortable heat. Why didn’t Diane say anything?
“Oh, honey,” Diane whispered, “you didn’t know, did you? David isn’t dead. The police don’t call you when someone dies. They send an officer to your house. Someone’s making prank phone calls like that all over the city. Call the police after I hang up. I’ll be over in a few.”
Anne-Marie nodded and hung up, disbelief on her face. A hoax? A cruel joke? Why?
Anger started to replace sorrow. She thought about calling the police but decided against it. No, this was something she would deal with. She would find those pranksters and make them regret playing with her emotions.
She wasn’t the daughter of Tiresias for nothing.