4. In Which Our Heroine Is Rudely Awoken, Or Perhaps Awakened

4. In Which Our Heroine Is Rudely Awoken, Or Perhaps Awakened

When the phone rang, Erica was deep in a dream. She was on a train, or maybe it was a car. It changed back and forth, actually. In either case she was in France, and she and her dream friends kept asking each other how to say things in French. Except that Erica didn’t speak French, so the answers were always in Spanish, which even her dream-self thought was cheap and lazy. In the train or car they zoomed through traffic but also ordered snacks from the waiter. She assumed that in France the good trains had some kind of service, like an airplane. There was no such thing on Amtrak, which were the only actual trains Erica had ever been on. Amtrak did have a restaurant car, but even Erica at her hungriest balked at paying nine dollars for a poorly microwaved hamburger.

She was eating what was either escargot or a croque monsieur but was really a plate of French fries when the phone rang, announcing that she was at her stop or was being stopped by the police but really telling her that her phone was ringing, and judging from the sound she had left it on the kitchen counter, which meant its battery would be nearly dead by now.

Also, she had to run through the obstacle course of her room to get to the door and into the kitchen. The phone was at nine percent. “Hello?”

Silence on the other end. No, not quite silence. Slow breathing. But not in a scary way, like a serial killer trying to get into her head. More like somebody dialed and then forgot to talk.

“Hello?”

“I’m mad at you,” the caller said in between annoyed sighs. It was Anthony.

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