A Watched Phone Never Rings, by Debutante Eileen

Every writer I know imagines “The Call.”  I had plenty of time to imagine the call; I anticipated that I would be doing any of the following when it happened:

  1. Working: my cell would ring, it would be my agent! I would give a squeal that would alert my co-workers that something had happened. They would rush to my office where I would share the news. Celebration and jubilation would occur.
  2. Out in a Public Place: This could be the grocery, shopping mall or on public transit. The cell would ring- it would be my agent! Again with the squeal- along with announcing in a loud tone “I’ve sold my book!” Celebration and jubilation would occur with total strangers who would, of course, all write down my name so that they could buy the book at a later date.
  3. Hanging out with my husband: cell phone rings- it is my agent! Squeal (again) Celebration and jubilation (again- only this time including kissing) Champagne optional- but preferred.

Each morning I would get up and one of my first thoughts would be “today could be the day.” I played the song Fame over and over in my car. I was ready-but the phone didn’t ring. I was never separated by more than three feet from my phone at any given time. When it would ring I would leap as if a nuclear device would go off if I didn’t answer it before the next ring. I was the Jack Bauer of cell phone response.  No calls from the agent. There were plenty of emails where my devoted agent would talk me down off the ledge, but no call.

One cold January day my car had gone in for repairs so I was working from home. When the cell rang I assumed it was work.

Devoted agent: Eileen? It’s Rachel.

Me: Who? (No one named Rachel works at my office)

Devoted agent: Rachel Vater. Your agent. (although she didn’t say it aloud I am fairly sure this was followed by the thought- “the one you email on a near hourly basis wanting news from- that Rachel” )

Me: hi (still processing that this isn’t a call from work)

DA: We’ve got an offer!

Me: huh.

DA:  Let me give you the details. (details inserted here) Any questions?

Me: No. I guess not. Thanks. Goodbye.

Then I sat down. Then I stood up. Then I sat down again. I tried to give a squeal. The dogs looked over annoyed- they thought I was doing a squeaky toy impression.  Turns out it is no fun to squeal by yourself.

I called my husband- he was in a meeting so I left a vague message.

“Call me.”

Then I called back:

“It’s important- call as soon as you can. Life altering important. Call!” 

Then I called one more time:

“I mean I’m not dying or anything, it is good news. But call me. Seriously. Call.”

Then I waited for him to call me back. The Call wasn’t the way I imagined it, but I wouldn’t trade the memory.

10 Replies to “A Watched Phone Never Rings, by Debutante Eileen”

  1. It’s so funny that you didn’t know who Rachel was at first!

    I love that “today could be the day” feeling! And I think it’s kind of wonderful how when it finally happens, it’s nothing like we imagined.

  2. Too funny. I love these stories. I laughed at “talking you down off the ledge”. I’ve been on that ledge! Isn’t it amazing how often you climb up and then get back down while WAITING for the call?

  3. The Phone Call next week is one I am NOT waiting for. I looked at next wek’s topic and it is Rebel, Rebel. I am sure I will begetting numerous phone calls from friends and relatives who will have read Eileen’s comments and be calling to ask, “Did you know Eileen did such and such” and I’ll respond that it couldn’t have been MY darling little kid and once again she is writing some more fiction. The only thing worse is the topic at the end of February where my favorite daughter will be tellling the world about “Crimes You’ve Committed”. I will age 20 years (that I don’t have left) waiting on THAT one. I just hope she keeps it to misdemeaners and leaves out the felonies.
    Who picked these topics anyway????

  4. It is easier for me to figure out whether a call is good news as my agent always ends up calling at 5:30 in the morning!
    She only calls at that time for good news (like another foreign rights sale)!
    So living in Hawaii is a distinct advantage.

  5. I have this Charlie’s Angel picture of you in my mind, your hand poised over your cell phone, ready to answer at the first ring!

    I think this has been one of my favorite post weeks, too …

  6. Isn’t it weird how you have this whole other conversation in your head when the call does come?]

    Great post.

    Oh, um, Eileen’s Very Proud Dad? It was me. *hides really well because this guy can crack codes*

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