a sample of today’s writing:
Natasha shuts the door to the bedroom, turning the old but still clearly functional Nokia on and dialing Clint’s cell number from memory. He’s broken more phones over the years than she can count, but always keeps the same number, to make things easier on Laura and the kids. Lila’s nearly old enough to recite it from memory, when her preschool teachers ask her.
The phone rings, and rings, and rings, and Natasha’s nails have very nearly drawn blood from her palms when Clint picks up. “–not going to tell you again,” he’s saying, his Stern Dad voice, and Natasha nearly laughs in relief and amusement when he abruptly switches tones to professionally wary. “Hello?”
“It’s me,” she says.
“Nat?” His voice changes again, goes light and warm, the way it always does when she calls, and she closes her eyes, sinks down onto Sam’s bed. “What’s up? What number are you calling from?”
“It’s a burner,” she says, swallowing. “Clint, I need to tell you something. Are you alone? With the kids?” She doesn’t even know what day it is.
“What? No. It’s Sunday, Nat, Laura’s home. We just finished lunch.” The puzzled frown hovers along the edges of his words. “Nat, what’s going on? Are you okay?”
“Yes. No.” She takes a breath. On the end of the line, Clint is quiet, patient, waiting for her, and she’s glad of it. “Go outside. You’re not going to want to be near them, when you hear this.”
“Okay.” No argument; he trusts her immediately, and it puts a lump in her throat. He calls to Laura; lets her know he’s stepping out onto the porch, and she waits until she hears the swing and click of the front door. “I’m outside,” he says. “What’s going on, Tasha?”
“Don’t call me Tasha,” she says, and it comes out in a whisper, almost choked. “Not now. I can’t, Clint.”
“Alright. I’m sorry.” He takes a breath. “What is it?”
She tries to think of a way to soften the blow, but that’s never been things work between them. “Nick’s dead.”