Monday 9 January 2023

Call Me - The Story Behind The Story

One of my first published stories is dedicated to someone I never knew.

A lady called Hannah.

That's all I know about her. I've never seen the way she walks, so I don't know how many men's furtive glances she attracts while grocery shopping. Nor have I seen the light dancing from her eyes.

Only her voice drifts through my memory, and the shock and fear that tinged it when she mistakenly dialled my number on that October afternoon in 2002.

I was three weeks into a new in-between clerical job at a mortgage broker company in Perth when my phone rang.

Looking around to make sure no one was watching me talking on work time, I rolled my chair close to the window, and answered the unfamiliar number. And hoped it wasn't a debt collector.


Honey-sweet aural ambrosia flowed into my ear. A bewitching voice filled with the kind of feminine vulnerability that could inspire a war as she sobbed, then stammered: "I've had an accident."

She should've been talking to someone she knew and trusted. Not a stranger. Not me.

"You have the wrong number."


I stopped from hanging up. "Yes?"

"I've called the ambulance. But I -"

Then I recognised her voice. The sound of someone who needs a kind caring ear.

"Sure. Let's talk."

So I listened to her. We talked. She said she was on the Stirling Highway -- not that far from my office. She had swerved to avoid a car that had braked suddenly. Hit a guard rail or something. She was in shock. We talked until help arrived for her.

I never heard from her again, until my phone beeped a couple of months later.

"Merry Christmas from Hannah. You probably don't remember me, but you answered my wrong number call from a traffic accident. Thank you for listening."

On New Year's Eve 2002, while waiting for the witching hour, I started writing "Call Me", the opening scene inspired by the mysterious woman and her call to a wrong number in an hour of need. I kept putting it off before finally finishing it in 2008.

But it remains a favourite of mine because I learned something.

People won't always recall our names, but they will always remember how we made them feel. 

To read more of her story, it's the first in Twelve Strokes of Midnight.

Read it here at: 

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