The Call That Came At Midnight

Today, I decided to post a personal experience piece I wrote years ago. Yes, in another life, I wrote nonfiction for all sorts of magazines. This story was the leading essay in the Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul 2 in 1995. Well several years back, I got a request from someone in Vietnam to use it to make a short video for a school project. The other night I was searching for something on You Tube and found it. I can’t understand a word of it, but it still brought tears to my eyes because I know the story. And it reminded me in a way of Kylie and Sara and the issues they have with their moms. So, I decided to post it today.

I’ll be upfront with you, there are no vampires, werewolves or any supernaturals in this short piece. But there’s a lot of emotion, and I thought you might enjoy it.

Next week, we’ll go back to answering some more questions you have for Lucas and Derek. And hey…Whispers at Moonrise is getting closer to the release date!!

***

“One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.” Margaret Mead

The Call That Came At Midnight

We all know what it’s like to get that phone call in the middle of the night. This night’s call was no different. Jerking up to the ringing summons, I focused on the red illuminated numbers of my clock. Midnight. Was someone I loved in trouble? Panicky thoughts filled my sleep-dazed mind as I grabbed the receiver.

“Hello?”

My heart pounded, I gripped the phone tighter and eyed my husband, who was now turning to face my side of the bed.

“Mama?” I could hardly hear the whisper over the static. But my thoughts immediately
went to my daughter. When a desperate sound of the young crying voice became clearer on the line, I grabbed for my husband and squeezed his wrist.

“Mama, I know it’s late. But don’t say…don’t say anything, until I finish. And before you
ask, yes, I’ve been drinking. I nearly ran off the road a few miles back and…”

I drew in a sharp shallow breath, released my husband and pressed my hand against my
forehead. Sleep still fogged my mind and I attempted to fight back the panic. Something
wasn’t right.

“And I got so scared,” she continued. “All I could think about was how it would hurt you if a policeman came to your door and said I’d been killed. I want…to come home. I know running away was wrong. I know you’ve been worried sick. I should have called you days ago, but I was afraid…afraid….”

Sobs of deep-felt emotion flowed from the receiver and poured into my heart. Immediately I pictured my daughter’s face in my mind, I recalled the light raspy sound of her voice and my fogged senses seemed to clear. “I think–”

“No! Please let me finish! Please!” She pleaded, not so much in anger, but in desperation.

I paused and tried to think what to say, before I could go on, she continued. “I’m pregnant, Mama. I know I shouldn’t be drinking now…especially now, but I’m scared, Mama. So scared!”

The voice broke again and I bit into my lip, feeling my own eyes fill with moisture. I looked at my husband who sat silently mouthing, “Who is it?”

I shook my head and when I didn’t answer, he jumped up and left the room, returning
seconds later with the portable phone held to his ear.

The caller must have heard the click in the line because she continued, “Are you still there? Please don’t hang up on me! I need you. I feel so alone.”

I clutched the phone and stared at my husband, seeking guidance. “I’m here, I wouldn’t hang up,” I said.

“I should have told you, Mama. I know I should have told you. But when we talk, you just keep telling me what I should do. You read all those pamphlets on how to talk about sex and all, but all you do is talk. You don’t listen to me. You never let me tell you how I feel. It is as if my feelings aren’t important. Because you’re my mother, you think you have all the answers.  But sometimes I don’t need answers. I just want someone to listen.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat and stared at the how-to-talk-to-your-kids pamphlets scattered on my night stand. “I’m listening,” I whispered.

“You know, back there on the road, after I got the car under control, I started thinking
about the baby and taking care of it. Then I saw this phone booth and it was as if I could hear you preaching about how people shouldn’t drink and drive. So I called a taxi. I want to come home.”

“That’s good, Honey,” I said, relief filling my chest. My husband came closer, sat down
beside me and laced his fingers through mine. I knew from his touch that he thought I was doing and saying the right thing.

“But you know, I think I can drive now.”

“No!” I snapped, my muscles stiffened, envisioning a wreck, envisioning losing a child, and I tightened the clasp on my husband’s hand. “Please, wait for the taxi. Don’t hang up on me until the taxi gets there.”

“I just want to come home, Mama.”

“I know. But do this for your mama. Wait for the taxi, please.”

I listened to the silence in fear. When I didn’t hear her answer I bit into my lip and closed my eyes. Somehow I had to stop her from driving. But how?

“There’s the taxi, now.”

Only when I heard someone in the background asking about a Yellow Cab did I feel my
tension easing. She would get home.

“I’m coming home, Mama.” There was a click, and the phone went silent.

Moving from the bed, tears forming in my eyes, I walked out into the hall and went to stand in my sixteen-year-old daughter’s room. The dark silence hung thick. My husband came from behind, wrapped his arms around me, and rested his chin on the top of my head. I wiped the tears from my cheeks. “We have to learn to listen,” I said to him.

He pulled me around to face him. “We’ll learn. You’ll see.” Then he took me into his arms, and I buried my head in his shoulder.

I let him hold me for several moments, then I pulled back and stared back at the bed. He studied me for a second then asked, “Do you think she’ll ever know she dialed the wrong number?”

I looked at our sleeping daughter, then back at him. “Maybe it wasn’t such a wrong
number.” Somehow, I was sure this had been some kind of a wake call for me as a mother.

“Mom, Dad, what are you doing?” The muffled young voice came from under the covers.

I walked over to my daughter who now sat up staring into the darkness. “We’re practicing,” I answered her question.

“Practicing what?” she mumbled and laid back on the mattress her eyes already closed in slumber.

“Listening,” I whispered and brushed a hand over her cheek.

***

Now that you’ve read the story, watch the video and let me know what you think.

25 thoughts on “The Call That Came At Midnight

  1. That was soo sad I cried. What that one character did was wonderful she probably helped that girl in soo many ways and she probable saved her life. I liked that story a lot.

      • i agree i tried to read there body language to figure out what they were saying. even though it was a different language, i still enjoyed it a ton

        • i acctually figured out how to turn on captioning on youtube. it wasn’t completely accurate, but it made it a ton easier to watch. and really sweet to…

          • if you read this would you mind trying to explain how to turn on captioning? I’d really like to watch, and understand, the video

  2. so the girl was not acutaly there daughter that was so cool but now i’m wondering what the real mother would say? that was sad though but i loved the concept of the story that was really sweet!

      • i can’t even imagine what i would be feeling if i had been in ur shoes being called by a pregnant run away in the middle of the night i feel sorry for her actual mom, I’m sure when the girl got home, she was confused as to why her mother has no idea whats going on, and then she would have to tell her mom that she was pregnant. i just can’t even imagine.

  3. This was such a sweet story. It made me cry. It made me wonder how it turned out for the girl. I hope everything worked out well 🙂

  4. Aw 🙁 That was sad. Thanks for sharing.
    P.S: I got my Stree Team package today I LOVE THE STUFF IN IT. Thanks so much C.C and the company that sent me the stuff!

    • I got my stuff too! i got mine a little earlier, maybe august 11 or something, but i only live 2 states away new york where it was mailed from. but you should have heard my scream when i saw the autograph and ARC of Whispers at Moonrise. it was 10:30 at night and i live next door to 3 triplet inants. lets just say their mom was not a very happy woman just then….

  5. Dear C C
    the story and the video brought me to tears. i wasnt expecting the end where we find out that it was a wrong number but the story was amazing and i could relate to it so much. when i watched the video it didnt matter that it wasnt in english because you knew even without reading the story that the girl was in trouble and needed help. i think that the story had a hidden meaning behind it and i think that all teenage girls and mothers can relate to it, i myself being a teen definatly can relate. your story was an eye opener and in my personal opinion should be told to everyone especially those few people who do get calls at midnight and refuse to pick up because its too late. this story shows that just by answering the phone you could and probably will change a persons life. it also shows that even though mothers might think that their daughters are just wild and crazy that underneath that we do have some sense of right and wrong and that even though we might make a few mistakes-like drinking and driving or getting pregnant-eventually we will make the right choices. i hope that people all around the world will read this story and find their own hidden meaning behind it and i hope that people who have alreay read it will pass it on, i know i will.
    thank you for opening my eyes.
    -Angelina

  6. (sorry i forgot to add something)
    p.s to know that this is a true story makes it even more jaw dropping.
    p.s.s what was your reaction when you got the call? or did you write the story exactley as it happened???

  7. somewhat happy to say that I didn’t have to remember the whole dialogue from above when I realized it was in viet o…,o

  8. Sometimes the powers that be, send an angel to people in the form of another kind soul on this earth, who gets, and does the right thing at the right time. For that young girl, you were that angel. I want to say thank you, for listening to that young woman, letting her get her soul out, and then going home. Her real mother may not have heard it, but I think the powers that be was speaking to both of you that night, giving you a lesson, and her comfort. I wish you nothing but the best in life, and may your daughter grow well, and be blessed as you are.

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