"Phone Calls from Caroline"

Chapter 1
Planning A Funeral

By BethShelby



Hello, is this Beth?

Yes, it's me. Don’t you recognize my voice, Caroline?

Well you don’t sound right. Must be that crazy phone you got. I told you to go buy yourself another phone. Are you too stingy to get a new phone? You sound like you’re in a barrel. You busy? What are you doing?

I was eating lunch, but I can talk. Go ahead. Are you doing okay?

Well, no!… Not really…I’m 95-years-old….I've been going downhill for 20 years. Anyway, I want to talk to you about my funeral. This is your cousin, Caroline.

I know who you are. I just called you Caroline. Don’t you remember? Anyway I'm not the one you need to talk to about your funeral. You need to talk to your daughter, Christine.  

Oh, I can’t talk to her. She comes over here and gives me my medicine, and she's gone before I can turn around. She don’t stay around long enough to talk. Besides, her and that man of hers said they were going to be cremated. I don’t want them putting me near no fire. You know how I sweat when I get hot.

Caroline, we don’t need to talk about your funeral. You aren’t sick. You’ll probably outlive me. I can't plan your funeral. That’s up to Christine.

She won’t listen to me. You've got to come over here, and tell her what I want, and see to it that she does it.  She’ll listen to you. I want to be taken back to Mississippi and buried next to Grandma.

Why don’t you want to be buried by your husband in Texas?

No! No! I don’t want to be by him. We wasn’t getting along that good when he died. He didn’t like it when I put him in a nursing home. Back in 1953, he cheated on me. You didn’t know that, did you?

Yes, I remember. You’ve told me at least 20 times. Okay, I’ll tell Christine that you want to be buried by Grandma.

Well, that not all. I want to be on her right side, facing away from her. I never could sleep on that other side….And I don’t want no flowers, especially them mums. I’m allergic to mums.…And see if you can get that girl, Vera, to fix my hair. Tell her not to put no spray net on it. That stuff makes me sneeze.

Okay, I’ll try to remember all that. Now can we talk about something else?

No, I’m not through, and what’s that noise you’re making? Are you eating something?

I told you I was eating lunch. You heard my chip bag rattle.

Beth, this is important. Put that food away, and listen to me. I need to tell you what I want to wear.

Caroline, you told me all that the last time we planned your funeral. You said you wanted that navy blue suit and white blouse.

Well, I’ve changed my mind. I want the pink dress I bought for Geneva’s wedding. I got to thinking about it, and that blue suit is made out of heavy material. I think it’s going to be too hot for me to wear that.


Author Notes Caroline and Beth don't always use perfect grammar on the phoned. Please note when suggesting corrections.

Chapter 2
Dying on the Floor

By BethShelby


Hello?  Who is this?  I want to speak to Beth.

This is Beth, Caroline, who else do you think would be answering my phone? I’m the only one who lives here. You call me two or three times a day. Why is it you can’t you ever recognize my voice?

It’s that cheap phone you got. I keep telling you to spend some of that money, and go out and get yourself a decent phone. Anyway, this is your cousin, Caroline.

Yes, I know Caroline. Is everything okay?

Well no, everything is not okay. I’m ninety-five-years-old. Everything aches, and I can’t get my daughter to stay around here long enough for me to tell her everything that’s wrong.

That is why you’ve got care-givers over there every day. Talk to them. You know she is just across the driveway if you really need her.

Yeah, well them care-givers is another story!  They keep sending me new ones over here that don’t know their butt from a hole in the ground. You got to tell `em everything, I think I ran another one off today. She said I was being mean to her, and she wasn’t coming back. I said `Good riddance!’

Caroline, Is there a reason you called? I just walked in from the grocery store, and I have some frozen stuff I need to put away. I can call you back.

No, this is important. It can’t wait. I been thinking about it, and I want you to get you one them things you hang around your neck, in case you fall. It'll call and get help for you.

I don’t need one of those things. If I fall, I’ll get back up. I’ve got telephones in every room. If I need help, I’ll call someone.

No, you listen to me! I’m older than you, and that means I’m smarter than you. You live by yourself. When you fall, you’re liable to break something. You won’t be able to get back up.

Caroline, don’t you have enough to worry about without worrying about me? If I can't get to the phone, I’ll yell at my Alexis to call 911. I’ve got one of those gadgets in every room, too.

Now, Beth that’s your problem. You think that woman’s going to help you? She don’t care nothing about you. You don’t need to be talking to that woman. You need to get rid of that thing and get you one them things like I got that goes around your neck.

Caroline, I'd get that string hung up on something, and I’d probably hang myself. I'd be setting it off all the time, and the first time I set it off I’d end up pitching it in the trash.

Now Beth, you'd better listen to me. You're going to fall on the floor and die if you don't get one. Mine saved my life.

No, it didn’t save your life. You just ran your wheelchair into the corner and couldn’t figure out how to back it up. If you're so worried about dying, you need to get that vaccine. You got strangers coming in your house all the time, and you’re going to end up getting that virus. They could have it and not even know it.

I've done told you, I’m not taking that vaccine. It’s got something in it that might change my DNA, and turn me into a man. If you’re going to start on me again about getting that vaccine, I’m going hang up. And don’t you go telling people I didn’t warn you, if you die on the floor. 



Author Notes I'm calling this fiction, but it is very much like the phone call between my cousin and I yesterday. I've featured Caroline in a dialogue only story before.

Chapter 3
Mad Enough To Bite Nails

By BethShelby


Is this you?

Yes, Caroline I’m here.

Well, I hope this is you, because the last two numbers I dialed wasn’t you. I’m so angry, I’m spitting nails. They got me so mad I couldn’t remember your number, and I had to go look it up. This is your cousin, Caroline.

Yes, we’ve established that. What’s going on?  Who are you angry with?

First let me ask you, what are you doing?

Well, I was writing, but I can stop and talk to you.  What’s going on?

I guess you’re writing that book of yours. I’m glad you're having fun doing something you like to do.  You better not be putting anything in that book about me.

It’s not about you.  Now, tell me, who are you mad with?

I’m mad with my mother. She makes me so mad, I want to spit in her face.

Caroline, you’re ninety-five years old. Your Mother's been dead thirty years. You mean Cindy? She is your daughter, not your mother.

Well, you know who I’m talking about. She acts like my mother. She's always telling me what I can and can’t do.

What has Cindy done to get you all riled up?

She took her side over mine. Her own Mother. Can you believe it. That woman told her some stuff, and she thinks it’s my fault. How would you feel if your daughter did that to you?

Okay, start over.  Whose side did she take? What woman?

You know what woman. One of them women they send over here that’s supposed to be helping me.

Are you talking about the new one you told me that you liked?  The one you said was a hard worker?’

Yeah, that woman. I thought she was gonna be okay to begin with, but today she kept that phone thing on her shoulder the whole time she was here.  I don’t know who she was talking to, but it wasn’t me.

She wasn’t doing her job?

I told her I wasn’t paying her to talk on the phone, and she started telling me all the work she had done for me. She got mad and asked if I wanted her to leave. I saw her eyes flashing evil. I told her the old devil was in this room. I told her we needed to pray.

What did she say when you told her that?

She looked at me like she thought I was crazy. I said a prayer, but I didn’t pray for her. I told Mama to tell her not to come back, and she said I’ve got to quit running everyone off.

You do need help, you know. I think they are running out of people willing to work for you.

Cindy’s afraid if they don’t come, she might have to spend some time over here helping me. She said I need to be kind to the people who work here. Took their side over mine, she did. My own mama, or daughter or whatever she is.

Cindy is seventy-five, herself. She’s probably not able to be over there all day. She has a husband to take care of. You need to try to control your temper. You know you do sound kind of mean when you get so aggravated.

Now, you’ve done it. I called you to help me calm down, before I have a stroke, and here you go blaming me too. To heck with all of you. I thought you was somebody I could count on.

Yeah, I heard you slam the phone down. If you don't quit hanging up on people, you're going to find yourself with nobody to listen to you rant, old lady.

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