"Broken Telephone" may not be distributed in any way, including posting to FictionPress and all other websites without Penelope P.'s written permission. Thank you.
Hello all! I've gone and done it again. A new story. But I promise you this one is short…er. The chapters wont be my usual 8K+ so hopefully I can update more often. This is just going to be a nice light, fluffy/funny/strange story. I needed a little something while I was writing The Rabbit Hole, which is still going on. I haven't abandoned it, or put it on hold. I'm going to attempt two stories at once, drumroll please. Hopefully it goes well. Thanks a million in advance, and I hope you enjoy. And thanks to all my bitches. You know who you are. :)
"And I need you more each day.
Baby, if you're still awake,
call me when you get this."
"I'm getting married!"
Liv had to move the phone away from her ear if she wanted to keep her hearing in tact. It took her maybe three whole seconds to process what her sister was telling her.
"Married?" Her voice came out strangled and a little harsh.
"Yes, married! Can you believe it?" Sarah obviously hadn't detected how completely put off Liv was by this. "Oh my God, this is happening so fast. I mean, we've only been dating a year and I haven't even slept with him yet."
"You haven't-" There was a loud beeping sound telling Liv that there was a call waiting. She pulled her cell from her ear and looked down at the screen.
The words flashed over and over again. A sickening feeling bubbled up her throat but she swallowed it. Feeling this way about a man on the other end of the phone was ridiculous.
"Liv?" Her sister cawed annoyingly at her. "Hellooo? Are you there? Did you hear me. I'm getting-"
"Yeah," Liv said quickly and brought the phone back to her ear. "Ah, I'll call you back." She quickly pressed the talk button as Sarah wined. But suddenly her sister's voice stopped and she heard the sweet, sweet, voice of someone she shouldn't feel all giddy about.
"Hello?" He asked. His voice sort of unwrinkled and polished.
"Hi." She squeaked back, sounding like a complete moron.
"Alright, so I'm standing in this bookstore contemplating whether or not I need a book called Understanding Japanese Bantams or, The Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers."
She tried to picture him, leaning against a dusty bookshelf, his hair falling over his eyes as he read the titles to her. Of course she didn't know what he looked like so every time she imagined him he'd very a little. Like the color of his eyes or hair. Was it weird to be attracted to a man she'd never actually met?
Liv smiled and tried to hold back her laugh. He usually called her when he was trying to make a decision, since apparently his blood pressure hit the roof every time he was faced with choices.
"To help you out I suppose I'll need to know what a Japanese Bantam is."
"According to the lovely cover I'm guessing it's a chicken."
"Ah…" Liv said and leaned against her stove while she waited for her TV dinner to nuke. "Well, I'm not sure if I want to understand chickens."
She could hear him smiling. "Then that's a good thing I'm not buying this book for you."
"However," She continued. "I am very interested in curious numbers."
Liv spontaneously came up with a number. "1549."
She could hear him flipping through the book. "Hm, it seems that 1549 is the only number under 10,000 that is not the sum of the prime and the power."
Liv had no idea what that meant and laughed. "Wow… What makes this number one in 10,000?"
He thought about it a moment. "Maybe it's better than all the other numbers."
He paused. "Maybe it's prettier."
She laughed again.
"Maybe you don't know what you're talking about."
This time he chuckled a little. It was a warm and inviting sound. "Maybe this number is the number I've been waiting for." His tone was a little different, and a little more strained. "Maybe it's just what I need."
Biting down hard on her lip, Liv ran her fingers through her hair. They were flirting again. She couldn't be flirting with a man she'd never met before. Whose voice she'd only heard, whose name she didn't even know! It was insane. It was crazy. It was wonderful.
"Maybe." She sighed back. "Hey, I was thinking."
You, she wanted to blurt. But instead she'd been wondering if she could see him, meet him, somewhere. In a well lit public place just in case he was a crazy person. But how could he be crazy. He was wonderful on so many levels. She wanted to tell him that but she'd just come off as some disturbingly lonely woman. Which… she was.
"Well, um… maybe sometime we could-"
"Hey did I tell you about my brother." He suddenly blurted, totally deflecting her question. She felt her entire stomach drop. Could she be any more transparent?
"Your brother?" Liv squeaked.
"Yeah." He said nervously. "It turns out he's getting married."
"Oh," Liv thought about her sister. "So is mine."
"You have a brother?"
She shook her head then realized he couldn't see her. "Ah, no I mean my sister. She's getting married."
He paused. "Cool."
This conversation had been shot to hell. "Yeah…" Good job, Liv. Just perfect.
"So our siblings are getting married." He said thoughtfully. "Obviously not to each other."
Wouldn't that be strange?
"Right. Yeah, kinda funny."
"Yeah…" His voice sounded off. "Funny."
There was something about family dinners that made him want to gouge out his eyeballs.
"Really Darling," His mother, Meredith, began. "You're baby brother is getting married before you. Aren't you worried in the least how that makes you look?"
She was on her third glass of wine and the night was young. By midnight she'd be seeing double. "He's not my baby brother, we're twins."
"You're the eldest."
"By eleven minutes."
"That would make him the baby. Really, Solo, you'd think at your age a man would have a family by now, or at least a girlfriend. What happened to… Sharon?" How many times had they had this conversation? She would talk about how much she liked Sharon and Solo would reply with:
"Shannon, her name was Shannon."
Meredith waved her hand absently. "She had wonderful posture." Solo rolled his eyes and checked his watch for what seemed like the millionth time. His baby brother was late, as usual. "Oh, why didn't you marry her? You would have had such beautiful babies."
"If marriage was an issue than maybe the name Solo wasn't a good choice."
Taking another large gulp of wine, his mother let out a little laugh. "Sweetheart, you know why your father and I named you Solo. You were just so independent and reclusive." Solo didn't know how she got that from a newborn baby, but she was right. He was rather independent and reclusive. Well, more so than his brother. "Did I ever tell you the story of-"
"Yes," He caught her quickly. "You did, it's a wonderful story." If he had to listen to her talk about while he was in her uterus he might just take the salad fork and end himself.
Thankfully right at that moment his brother strolled in, his winter jacket dusted with snow and his cheeks bright red. "I was in a meeting." He said and came around the table to kiss their mother on the cheek she offered to him. Restlessly he popped into the seat opposite Solo and rubbed his freezing hands together.
"You're late." Solo said.
His brother shot him a tired glare. "I was in a meeting."
Solo shot back the exact same look.
"Oh Ben." Meredith sighed. "When are you going to bring your soon to be bride to meet your old mother?"
He smiled. "You're not old, and I don't know. We're both busy."
"But not too busy to get married." Solo put in.
Ben turned to him and was about to say something sarcastic when one of the maids came in with their dinner. Meredith, who'd gotten quite comfortable with being served day and night, simply ignored the woman, but Solo always got that cold chill every time he was served. Even in restaurants. He offered a polite smile to the woman whose name he'd completely forgotten, and she smiled back. Damn, why couldn't he remember it?
Jill? Jan? Joan? Jean?
"Solo?" Ben's voice suddenly broke through his thoughts. "Did you hear me?"
"I asked if you'd be my best man."
Best man? "Ah…"
Ben's eyes narrowed. "You hesitated."
"No, I didn't."
"You did. You just hesitated."
"I was thinking." Solo said defensively. It wasn't that he didn't want to be best man… well actually it was. Weddings were horribly depressing for Solo. It probably had something to do with being dumped on the day he was to be married… to Shannon. He was over it, mostly.
"Of course he'll be your best man." Meredith cooed. "Really Solo, hesitating. How very unbrotherly of you.
"I wasn't hesitating. Yes, Ben, I'll be your best man, okay? And unbrotherly isn't a word."
"Grammar Nazi." His brother coughed conspicuously.
"Don't call your brother that. He likes words."
"I'm a writer. I write." Just liking words wasn't exactly how he'd put it. Yes, he was a writer, and a damn good one. His latest novel had been number one for weeks now, and it didn't look like it was coming down any time soon. He should feel proud, only apparently in this household lawyer trumps accomplished novelist.
Just as the awkward silence settled among them, Solo's phone vibrated in his pocket. He jumped slightly and fished around for it.
An involuntary smile appeared on his lips, but he quickly got rid of it. "I ah…" He said and stood up. "It's my… my… um…"
"We just started eating Solo, you're being very rude."
That would have worked if he were still five. "My… editor." He said and hurried out of the room with his mother and brother watching in disdain.
"He's gay." Ben suddenly put in when his brother was out of earshot.
"Hush you," Meredith growled. "He can't be gay. What would the neighbors think?"
Slipping into the lounge Solo pressed the phone to his ear. "Hello?"
"I'm miserable." came her voice. It sounded like bells or something less cliché. Solo couldn't think straight when she was talking to him.
"You can't be as miserable as I am." He replied.
He took a deep breath. "I'm having dinner with my family."
She snorted a little. "So am I. But I doubt you were just dubbed Maid of Honor."
He paused a moment. "Actually, I was just dubbed Best Man."
There was a heavy silence between them. "Spooky." She eventually said. "I didn't even know you had a brother."
Well that was the point. Nothing personal. It had become a mutual agreement between them when they first started talking. An coincidence of cosmic proportions. Solo was trying to order a new typewriter over the phone and had left a number of angry voicemails wondering what was taking it so long. Of course he'd accidentally gotten the 4 confused with the 9, and voilà, Mystery Girl. She, in turn, left Solo an angry voicemail of her own, stating that no one used typewriters anymore, and that the sound they made was more annoying than Corey Hart. Of course, upon hearing this, Solo left her another voicemail.
"Who is Corey Hart? And I suppose we're playing phone tag. You're it."
They're relationship escalated to the point where Solo was telling her things he'd never told another human being, and she was actually listening. That's when they decided on the "nothing personal" rule. It was ridiculously easy to tell a random stranger about the woes of life if they didn't actually know you.
Only now he couldn't stop thinking about her.
He loved it when she was multi-tasking while talking to him. Most people found this an annoying character trait, but Solo loved it. Sometimes she was walking her dog, sometimes she was cooking, horribly, sometimes she was watching TV and Solo would desperately search through his own until he found the channel she was watching.
He was a little creepy at times.
But most writers were anyway. It came with the lifestyle.
"I didn't know you had a sister." He replied and ran his finger over the shiny mahogany fireplace mantel.
"I guess we broke the one and only rule." She said softly. "I have something to tell you."
His throat tightened a little. "What is it?" He was trying his hardest not to sound worried.
She hesitated a moment. "I… I named you."
"Yes." She continued quickly. "I know it's stupid. But I have absolutely no idea what your name is and I think a name says a lot about a person so I named you, because remaining nameless is… weird."
"And what is my name?"
She paused again. "O'Malley."
He wasn't sure if he heard her correctly. "O'Malley?"
"Yeah, I know it's stupid. But that's just… what I'm naming you. And it's kinda pathetic that I programmed my phone to say Future Husband every time-" She stopped short and made some sort of weird sound. "I didn't say that."
"Ah…" Solo wasn't really sure if he was breathing.
"My phone is ringing I have to get it." She said quickly and hung up on him. Solo simply looked down at his cell and sighed.
It was easy to be suave and funny over the phone to a probably really attractive woman. But in actual life, Solo was rather… solo. He wasn't exactly the first guy a girl picks up at a bar. Not that he went to bars very often anyway. He wasn't funny or charming, or ridiculously handsome. Was anybody really any of those things these days? Sure he had nice, hair, and maybe his height was a good thing, but ladies weren't exactly breaking down the door.
It was sort of weird that Ben never had this sort of problem with girls. They were always flocking around him like… seagulls. Maybe looks weren't a factor. Maybe Solo was hunky and he didn't even know it. All he knew was if his mystery girl ever actually got to know him she'd realize he was nothing more than a boring human being.
She was probably perfect. All legs and big eyes. Maybe she had one of those little beauty marks somewhere on her face, maybe the corner of her mouth, or just under her eye.
He ran a hand through his shaggy hair, it needed to be cut, but he couldn't be bothered. He wanted to meet her as much as she seemed to, but the disappointment in her eyes would be enough for him to relapse back to his Shannon days.
Maybe ending all communication would be a good idea.
"My phone is ringing…" She muttered to herself while she hit herself in his head. "I was talking on it… I'm a moron. He thinks I'm a moron, which I am. Stupid."
She was sitting on the stairs in her childhood home, listening to the sounds of her family celebrating Sarah's engagement. Everyone was there, everyone. Grandma Suzie had already hinted twice to Liv that her biological clock was ticking away. And Uncle Pat was drunk enough to fall asleep on the living room couch like he always did at every family function. Actually it was more of a family disfunction. Someone always got hurt, and this time it was little cousin Kyle who thought shoving seventeen marshmallows in his mouth was a good idea.
"Oliiiiviaaaaa!" Her mother called.
Liv sighed. She figured no one would notice her absence since apparently no one gets noticed around here unless you're knocked up, dying, getting a divorce, or getting married. Maybe it was a good thing since Sarah looked like she was ready to explode at any moment. Their mother had already started planning the wedding, and their father looked less than impressed that his youngest was off marrying some no-good lawyer from the big city.
"Where is that girl?" She heard her mother ask someone. She didn't want to be found, she just wanted to talk to…. O'Malley.
What a stupid name. Why had she told him that? Oh God, and the Future Husband thing just made her want to die. Could she be anymore of a fan girl?
Just then the front door opened and someone Liv had been missing strolled in.
Jemmy was only her most bestest friend of all time. Unfortunately while Liv furthered her career as a photographer in Toronto, Jemmy stayed put in Ash Breeze, the unfortunate place she was raised. Okay, maybe that was harsh. Ash Breeze wasn't that bad of a place, everyone was nice to each other and there was hardly any crime. It was wonderful really, too wonderful.
"Liv, sweetheart." He said as unwrapped the scarf from around his neck. "I haven't seen you in ages!" He grabbed her from the steps and crushed him against his chest.
"You saw me a month ago." She'd missed him just as much, only she was too proud to cling to him.
"Like I said, ages. How are you?"
"Fine." She shrugged.
Jemmy rolled his eyes. "Your younger sister is getting married before you."
"So… still talking to the man of your dreams over the phone?"
Liv's eyes widened as she looked around nervously. No one knew about her… whatever it was. Only Jemmy, because he was fabulous and he was gay. Obviously she told him. "Shh… and yes. I am. But I think I should stop."
"Stop? What ever for?"
Liv was dangerously close from saying something within earshot of a family member so she grabbed Jemmy's hand and pulled him up the stairs and into her old room. "I just made a complete fool of myself. I named him O'Malley, and then I told him I wanted him to be my future husband!"
He laughed. "Seriously?" He stopped when he saw her serious expression.
"I keep making a fool out of myself."
"Have you had phone sex yet?"
"Jemmy, are you listening to me? I'm an idiot. He's not interested and I'm acting like an airhead. I'm going to end it. It has to be done."
Jemmy shot her a tired look. "You say that every time you talk about him."
"If you do, you're just a complete idiot. He obviously likes you if he phones you regularly. What? Do you think he does it for his health?"
"Stop trying too hard. You're forehead goes red when you do, and that vein in your neck pops out. I swear one of these days you'll have a heart attack if you don't lighten up." He plopped down on her old bed and picked up one of her stuffed animals, the flamingo, and dusted off his head. "The last time I saw you this worked up was when we had sex."
"Shh!" Liv glared. "These walls have ears."
"And I'm sure they were listening in when were having sexxxxxx."
"Stop it!" She blushed. "That was a horribly awkward experience I don't wish to remember."
"Not nearly as awkward for me." He laughed.
Liv plopped down next to him and fell back against the frilly girl pillows of her past. "You probably should have mentioned you were gay before I took my clothes off."
He fell back next to her. "We were sixteen and I thought my steamy dreams of Marlon Brando had to do with suppressed childhood memories."
"I'm so glad I put you off women." Liv said sarcastically.
"You and your Hello Kitty underwear."
"Shut up." She muttered.
Jemmy laughed and nudged his head with hers. "Seriously though, relax, okay?"
She nodded. "All right."
"You'll break out into a rash or something otherwise."
"Oh you know what would be fantastical? Inviting your secret lover to the wedding."
Liv almost choked on her own spit. "Are you high? That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. For starters he avoids any sort of conversation involving us meeting and secondly… you're on crack. I would literally die if he saw me in anything Sarah is going to make me wear as Maid of Honor. And he's not my lover. Who says lover anymore? Sometimes you talk like you belong in a romance novel."
"You got Maid of Honor? No fair."
"I'm her sister."
"And what am I? Chow mien?"
Liv wasn't sure if that was a serious question. "She was going to pick you actually." Liv was slightly hurt by this. Sure she didn't want to be Maid of Honor, but choosing a man over her own sister was slightly insulting. "But you know Grandma Suzie. Can't let the gays take over the world."
He snorted. "I'm going to lick her fork while she's not looking. Maybe she'll catch my gayness and start walking around in chaps."
Liv looked over at her. "Please tell me you got rid of those."
He hesitated. "Sure."
From downstairs her mother called, "I smell Jeremy!"
He laughed and sat up. "It's me, dear Belinda." His voice echoed off the walls of her room.
"Come downstairs and have pie! And bring that daughter of mine!"
Jemmy turned to Liv and offered his hand. "It's pie time."
She rolled her eyes again. "It's always pie time."
You know you want to review.
Well, I hope you enjoy that first chapter. And to all you TRH readers, a new chapter might possibly be up tomorrow. Possibly.