The Lost Art of the Crank Call

My sister and I once crank called a guy named “Jack.”
We played him Anne Murray songs from our parents’ eight track,
held the phone out to the speaker, watched the music go in one end,
and listened to his voice come from the other.
Even though our area codes were the same,
he sounded far away, like we might have phoned Peru instead.
When he asked us to keep calling,
we giggled and turned up “Could I Have This Dance.”
When he said his wife had left him,
We snickered behind curled hands,
When he said he was lonely,
we could have died laughing.
And when he hung up, the sharp click of a receiver hooking
in its cradle sent us over the edge.

I hadn’t thought about “Jack” for years until someone
recently called me and lingered, breath suspended
in the space where phone lines used to be.
I recalled Jack and wondered if he had sat in a room
crammed with books he meant to read,
a list of people he meant to call, a sink full of dirty dishes.
Was his piano out of tune? Were his cats hungry?
Was his dead Christmas wreath still on the front door?
I half-expected to hear “Could I Have This Dance”
but there was just silence and the tick of the clock.

They had hung up.

Jennifer Makowsky received her MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Arizona. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and appeared in The Portland Review, Gargoyle, 2 Bridges Review, Blue Earth Review, Matador Review, Magnolia Review, and others. She lives in Tucson, Arizona where she teaches English.

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