My phone's always been a sucker for prank calls.
I don't know why, and I don't know how. But I get more prank calls than anyone else I know. You know the sort of thing, "Hello, this is Funky Leather Jackets Inc, would you like to buy a funky leather jacket?" Or, more often, "Hello, is Mr Wall there?"
"What about Mrs Wall?"
"There are no Walls there?"
"Then how does your roof stay up?"
(Cue the phone slamming down, after a series of muffled giggles.)
It makes you sick, it really does. I guess they're funny at first. After the fourth time they're less funny. After the fourteenth, they're even less. Then when it gets to the fortieth, you're just about ready to scream.
Usually, I get my phones from Tesco, Sainsbury's, Carphone Warehouse. This new one, the one that I'm always receiving prank calls on, I got from a company called Wish for a Phone. I went past it when I was coming home from school. An amazing phone sat on a table, apart from all the others. Gold and sparkly, with silver buttons and built-in watch, radio and Internet connection. I asked about it to the fat, greasy-haired man leaning against the counter, smoking a ciggy.
"You don't want that one," he said, yawning so I could see the fillings in his teeth. "It's faulty."
"I want it," I said.
He shrugged and drew on his cigarette.
"I'll buy it for Christmas," I told him.
He tossed his ciggy carelessly into the corner. Ash trickled thickly, sluggishly out of the smouldering end. "Go, kid. Stop bothering me. Have the phone if you want! And don't say I didn't warn you!"
"Never heard of a phone shop called that before," said Mum, puzzled, when I told her. "Must have just opened. What's it like?"
"Well, there's a phone there I really like," I explained. "I'd like it for Christmas or my birthday or whatever. It's not expensive."
"Another phone!" said Mum. "Another phone! How long did the latest one last?"
"Two months," I said reluctantly.
Mum sighed. "Ten phones in two years. Matthew, you're hopeless."
The only thing I can think of to say is, "Matt. My name is Matt."
"Matt's a silly name. You might as well be called Carpet. Or Rug."
I shrugged, as I always do when I don't know what to say. "Matt."
We started giggling.
"Look at us," said Mum. "Look at you. Thirteen years old, and you've had ten phones already. Ten! In two years!"
"You've said that."
I started laughing like a maniac.
"I'm not dropping this," said Mum firmly. "I'll get you this phone, but you are not to lose it. If you lose it I will not get you another one. Is this clear?"
"Clear as custard," I said.
Mum raised one eyebrow.
"OK, OK," I groaned. "I won't lose it."
"Damn right you won't," agreed Mum.
That was two weeks ago.
I got it for Christmas, all right, but now I wish I hadn't. I have to keep it turned off all the time in case I annoy people, and when I turn it on again, the message on the screen always reads, "Inbox Full Up."
I still remember that disastrous Christmas when I received it.
I grab the box, just the right size and shape, covered in white and gold wrapping paper, and shake it. A thin rattle comes from inside. "Careful," Mum warns. I tear off the impeccably fastened paper, tossing it on the already littered floor. Out tumbles the phone, already stripped of its protecting box, straight into my lap.
It seems even more beautiful than it had been in the shop. Its silver buttons gleam and catch the light.
"Wow," I whisper. I say it again, drawing out the word. "Wo-o-o-w."
"Good phone, innit?" says Mum. She doesn't have a Cockney accent, she just likes to say, "Isn't it" real quick.
"Don't you go losing it," she says.
I don't say anything, just reach out and slide in the SIM card.
The phone buzzes in my hand, warming up.
Then it gives a sharp, trilling ring.
"What on earth…" says Mum, her mouth falling open.
I just stare at it, eyes wide. I'd only just received the phone, only just put in the SIM card.
So how could anyone know my number?
Slowly, almost without knowing I'm doing it, I reach out and press the green button, then hold the phone to my ear.
"I have a thirty-metre high fever and three broken legs," said a voice. "Phone 922 immediately."
I touch the off button and end the call. Then I turn and look at Mum. I can see my own confusion reflected in her eyes.
"Any old random number," she says. "They typed in any old random number, and it was yours. A one-in-a-million chance."
But I could tell she didn't really believe it.
"A one-in-a-million chance," she repeats.
I put down the phone and get up.
All through dinner, the phone rings and rings and rings. Mum and I could hear endless trilling rings, endless pointless messages being left, until someone had the bright idea to turn it off.
My phone's just a magnet for prank calls. And I've absolutely no clue why.