Read Landline (part 4)

The fourth and final extract from Rainbow Rowell‘s Landline – a love story about one woman’s mission to save her marriage, with a little help from a magic telephone… 

Landline header

 

 

FRIDAY
December 20, 2013

 

 

CHAPTER 6

 

One missed call.

“Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Georgie never did plug in her phone last night and hadn’t thought about it this morning; she’d left for work as soon as she’d taken a shower and changed. (She’d put Neal’s Metallica shirt back on. It still smelled more like Neal than Georgie.)

She didn’t remember to plug in her phone until she got on the freeway . . .

One missed call

An Emergency Contact

That’s what Neal was filed under in Georgie’s contacts. (Just in case.) (Of something.) There was a voicemail, too — she hit Play, but Neal hadn’t left anything, just a half second of silence.

Georgie called him right back, got his voicemail and started talking as soon she heard the beep. “Hi,” she said. “It’s me. My phone was dead. But it won’t be. Call me. Call me whenever. You won’t be interrupting anything.”

As soon as she hung up, she felt like an idiot. Because of course he’d be interrupting something. That’s why Georgie stayed in L.A., because she couldn’t be interrupted.

Fuck.

#

Georgie wasn’t any good that morning.

Seth was pretending not to notice. He was also pretending not to notice her Metallica T-shirt.

“It feels weird to be writing a different show in here,” Scotty said, looking around the writers’ room. “It’s like we’re doing it in our parents’ bed.” He was sitting in his usual spot at the far end of the conference table, even though there were eight empty chairs closer to Seth and Georgie. “I wish the front-desk girl was here to make us coffee. Georgie, do you know how to make coffee?”

“Are you kidding me?”

Scotty rolled his eyes. “I didn’t mean that in a sexist way. I just genuinely don’t know how to turn on the coffee machine. You’d think they’d make that part obvious.”

“Well, I don’t know either,” she said.

Seth looked up at Scotty over his laptop. “Why don’t you go get us coffee?” he said. “We won’t need any fart jokes for at least a half hour.”

“Fuck you,” Scotty said. He frowned at the framed Jeff’d Up poster on the wall. “It’s kind of like we’re doing it in Jeff German’s bed.”

“Nobody’s doing it,” Georgie said. “Go get us coffee.”

Scotty stood up. “I hate leaving you guys alone. You forget that I exist.”

“I haven’t forgotten you,” Seth said, picking up his cell phone. “I’m texting you our orders.”

As soon as Scotty was gone, Seth wheeled his chair into Georgie’s and leaned against her armrest. “I’ve seen you work the coffee maker.”

“It’s the principle of the thing,” she said.

“Does that mean you won’t man the whiteboard either?”

“I’m not your secretary.”

“Yeah, but you don’t trust Scotty to take notes, and you can’t read my handwriting . . .”

Georgie stood up, reluctantly, found a dry-erase marker and started updating their progress on the whiteboard. She actually really liked being the one who wrote things down. It was like being the decision-maker.

Back in college, Georgie would type while Seth swanned around The Spoon office, thinking out loud. Then he’d be all righteous indignation when the magazine came back from the presses . . .

“Georgie. Where’s my Unabomber joke?”

“Who can be sure? Probably holed up in Montana.”

“That was a great joke that you cut.”

“It was a joke? See, it’d be a lot easier for me if you made your jokes funny. Then I wouldn’t get so confused.”

By junior year, Georgie and Seth were writing a weekly column together on page two of The Spoon. Georgie was finally starting to feel like she belonged on staffLike she was good enough.

She shared a desk with Seth then, too — that’s when they first got used to it. Seth liked to have Georgie close enough that he could pull her hair, and Georgie liked having Seth close enough to kick.

“Shit, Georgie, that really hurt — you’re wearing Doc Martens.”

Georgie remembered the Unabomber tantrum because they were in the middle of it the first time she saw Neal down at The Spoon. Seth was telling her that he wanted their column to be more political. More “wry” . . .

“I can pull off wry, Georgie, don’t tell me I — ”

“Who was that?” she interrupted him.

“Who?”

“That guy who just walked into the production room.”

Seth leaned back to see past her. “Which one?”

“Blue sweatshirt.”

“Oh.” He sat up again. “That’s the cartoon hobbit. You don’t know the cartoon hobbit?”

“No. Why do you call him that?”

“Because he does the thing — you know, the cartoon, at the back of the paper.” Seth had a copy of The Spoon and was writing his Unabomber joke in the margin of their column. “One down, four thousand ninety-nine copies to go.”

“That’s who writes Stop the Sun?

“Writes. Draws. Scrawls.”

“That’s the funniest part of the magazine.”

“No, Georgie, we’re the funniest part of the magazine.”

“That’s Neal Grafton?” She was trying to look into the production room without turning her head.

“Indeed.”

“Why haven’t I seen him down here before?”

Seth looked up at her and lowered an eyebrow suspiciously. “I don’t know. He’s not much of a people person.”

“You’ve met him?”

“Do you have a crush on the cartoon hobbit?”

“I’ve barely even seen him,” she said. “I just think he’s crazy talented — I thought Stop the Sun was syndicated. Why do you call him the hobbit?”

“Because he’s short and fat and hobbity.”

“He’s not fat.”

“You’ve barely even seen him.” Seth reached over Georgie to grab her copy of The Spoon and started writing his joke on the inside cover.

Georgie tipped back in her chair and peeked into the production room. She could just see Neal hunched over a drafting table, half-obscured by a pole.

We are the funniest thing in the magazine,” Seth mumbled.

#

Scotty brought back coffee, but it didn’t help.

Georgie had a headache. And a stomachache. And her hair still smelled like Heather’s sugary shampoo, even though she’d washed it.

She told herself she was just tired. But it didn’t feel like tired — it felt like scared. Which didn’t make any sense. Nothing was wrong, nothing was coming. She just . . .

She hadn’t talked to Neal for two and half days.

And they’d never gone this long without talking. Not since they’d met. (Well, practically not since they’d met.)

It’s not that things were always . . . What word was she looking for? Hunky-dory? Smooth? Happy?

It’s not that things were always easy between Georgie and Neal.

Sometimes, even when they were talking, they weren’t really talking. Sometimes they were just negotiating each other. Keeping each other posted.

But it had never been like this before. Radio silence.

There’d always been his voice . . .

Georgie would feel better if she could just hear Neal’s voice.

When Seth ran out to get lunch, she holed up in their office to try Neal again. She dialed his cell number and waited, tapping her fingers on her desk.

“Hello?” someone said doubtfully — like the person wasn’t actually sure that this was a phone and that she was indeed answering it. Neal’s mom.

“Margaret? Hey, it’s Georgie.”

“Georgie, hi there. I wasn’t sure if the phone was ringing or if this was an iPod. I thought I might be answering an iPod.”

“I’m glad you risked it. How are you?”

“You know, Naomi was watching TV on this thing earlier. In the same room as a perfectly good TV. We’re living in the future, I guess. It’s not even really shaped like a phone, is it? More like a deck of cards … ”

“I guess you’re right,” Georgie said, “I’ve never thought about that. How are you, Margaret? Sorry I called so late the other night.”

“Georgie, can you hear me?”

“I can hear you fine.”

“Because I don’t know where the microphone is — this phone is so small.”

“It is small, you’re right.”

“Do I hold it up to my ear or my mouth?”

“Um” — Georgie had to think about that, even though she was talking on the same style of phone — “your ear. I guess.”

“My cell phone flips open. It seems more like a real phone.”

“I think your mother has Asperger’s,” Georgie had said to Neal.

“They didn’t get Asperger’s in the fifties.”

“I’m just saying she’s on the spectrum.”

“She’s just a math teacher.”

“Margaret” — Georgie forced herself to smile, hoping it would make her sound less impatient — “is Neal around?”

“He is. Did you want to talk to him?”

“That would be great. Yes. Thank you.”

“He just took the girls over to Dawn’s. She’s got a cockatiel, you know, and she thought the girls might like to see it.”

“Dawn,” Georgie said.

Dawn the girl next door. The literal girl next door. Dawn, Neal’s ex-almost-fiancée. (It shouldn’t count if there was never a ring, right? If it was just a summer-vacation verbal agreement?)

God. And country. And fuck.

Why couldn’t Neal have a string of ex-girlfriends? Girls that he’d talked to, girls that he’d dated. Girls he’d used for sex, then felt bad about later . . . Why did he just have to have Dawn?

Dawn always came by Neal’s mom’s house to say hi when Georgie and Neal were in town; she lived next door and took care of her parents.

Dawn had pretty brown eyes and smooth brown hair. She was a nurse. She was divorced. She brought the girls stuffed animals that made it back to California and lived on their beds.

Georgie’s head hurt. Her hair smelled like poisonous cupcakes.

“Amadeus!” Margaret said, like she was remembering something.

“Sorry?” Georgie asked, clearing her throat.

“Amadeus. That’s Dawn’s cockatiel. He’s quite a bird.“

“Maybe you could just tell him that I called.”

Margaret was quiet for a few seconds and then — “Oh, you mean Neal.”

“I do. Yeah.”

“Sure, of course, Georgie. I’ll tell him.”

“Thanks, Margaret. Tell him to call me back anytime.”

“Sure . . . oh, wait, before you go — Merry Christmas, Georgie! I hope your new show gets picked up.”

Georgie paused. And remembered that she really did like Neal’s mom. “Thanks, Margaret. Merry Christmas. Hug those girls for me.”

“Georgie, wait, how do I hang up on you?”

“I’ll hang up on you. That’ll take care of it.”

“Okay, thanks.”

“I’m hanging up now, Margaret. Merry Christmas.”

#

“That’s funny, right?” Seth asked, then repeated a joke for the fourth time. “Is it funny? Or is it just weird?”

Georgie wasn’t sure. She was having a hard time staying focused.

“I need a break,” Scotty said. “I can’t even see straight.”

“Push through it,” Seth ordered. “This is where the magic happens.”

“This is where I go get frozen yogurt.”

“All you do is eat. You eat, then you start thinking about the next thing you’re going to eat.”

“Eating is the only thing that breaks the monotony,” Scotty said.

Seth’s eyebrows shot up. “This isn’t monotony. This is the fucking dream.”

“It will be,” Scotty said. “When I have some yogurt.”

“Georgie. Tell him. No frozen yogurt until he says something funny.”

Georgie was slouched down in her chair with her feet up on the table and her eyes closed. “Can’t talk. Too much magic happening.”

“Do you want frozen yogurt, Georgie?” Scotty asked from the door.

“No, thanks.”

She heard the door close. Then felt a pen bounce off her shoulder.

“You should take a nap,” Seth said.

“Hmmm.”

“We need a napping couch. Passing Time is going to have a napping couch. Remember the couch at The Spoon? That was a first-rate napping couch.”

Georgie remembered. It was gray velvet and worn smooth on the cushions. If Georgie was sitting on it, Seth would sit down right beside her, even if there was plenty of room. Even if there was no room at all. He liked to rest his head in her lap or on her shoulder. If he didn’t have a girlfriend, she’d let him. (He almost always had a girlfriend.)

Seth was a relentless flirt. Even with Georgie — maybe especially with Georgie.

For the first few months after they met, she found all the attention thrilling. And then — when she realized that Seth flirted with everyone, and that he was usually actively chasing another girl — it was heartbreaking.

And then it was just noise. Like his talking. Like his humming. Georgie liked it, even when she wasn’t paying attention. Sitting on the napping couch, Seth’s head on her shoulder, his wavy cherry-wood hair tickling her ear . . .

They were sprawled out on the napping couch the second time Georgie saw Neal. Seth had a girlfriend at the time — leggy, cheekbony, actressy —  so he was supporting his own head. Georgie stuck her elbow in his ribs. “There he is again.”

“Ow. Who?”

“The cartoonist,” she said.

“The hobbit?”

“I’m going to go introduce myself.”

“Why?”

“Because we work together,” Georgie said. “It’s what people do.”

“He doesn’t work here. He just turns in his cartoons here.”

“I’m going to go introduce myself. And tell him how much I like his work.”

“You’ll wish you hadn’t,” Seth warned. “He’s a scowler. He’s the least friendly hobbit in the Shire.”

“Stop talking Tolkien at me. All I know is ‘Frodo lives.’”

Seth laid his head on her shoulder.

Georgie shrugged him off. “I’m going to go introduce myself.” She got off the couch.

“Fine,” he moped. “I hope you’re very happy together. Cute little hobbit couple with lots of roly-poly hobbit babies.”

Georgie turned back to him, but didn’t stop walking away. “I’m not hobbity.”

“You’re short, Georgie.” He spread out across the couch. “And round, and pleasant-looking. Deal with it.”

Georgie turned the corner into the production room and stopped. The writers almost never went back to the production room. The artists hung out back here — and the paste-up people on the nights that The Spoon was going to press.

Neal was sitting at a drafting table. He had a penciled cartoon laid out in front of him, and he was opening a bottle of India Ink. There was a radio somewhere playing the Foo Fighters . . .

Georgie thought about going back to the couch.

“Hi,” she said instead.

Neal glanced up at her without lifting his head, then looked back at the cartoon. “Hi.”

He was wearing a black T-shirt under blue flannel, and his hair was dark and short, almost military-short.

“You’re Neal, right?”

He didn’t look up again. “Right.”

“I’m Georgie.”

“Are you?”

“Sorry?”

“Are you really?” he asked.

“Um, yes?”

He nodded. “I thought it was a pen name. Georgie McCool. Sounds like a pen name.”

“You know my name?”

Neal finally looked up at her. With round blue eyes and practically his whole head. “Your photo’s in The Spoon,” he said.

“Oh.” Georgie wasn’t usually smooth with guys — but she was usually smoother than this. “Right. So are you. I mean, your cartoon. I came back to talk to you about your cartoon.”

Neal was focused on his page again. He was holding an old-fashioned pen; it looked like a fountain pen with a long nib. ”Is there a problem?”

“No,” she said. “I just . . . like it. I was going to tell you how much I like it.”

“Are you still going to?

“I . . .”

His eyes met hers after a second, and she thought she might see a smile there.

She smiled back. “Yeah. I really like it. I think it’s the funniest thing in the magazine.”

She was almost sure Neal was smiling now. But it was just a twitch in his lips. “I don’t know,” he said. “People seem to like the horoscopes . . .”

Georgie wrote the horoscopes. (In character, sort of. It was hard to explain.) Neal knew she wrote the horoscopes. He knew her name. His hands were small, and they moved with complete surety across the paper, leaving a thick, straight line.

“I didn’t know you used real ink,” she said.

He nodded.

“Can I watch?”

He nodded again.

 

 

CHAPTER 7

 

Georgie’s mother had spectacular cleavage. Tan, freckled, ten-miles deep.

“Genetics,” her mom said, when she caught Georgie looking.

Heather shoved a bowl of green beans into Georgie’s arm. “Were you just staring at Mom’s breasts?”

“I think so,” Georgie said. “I’m really tired — and she’s kinda begging for it in that shirt.”

“Oh sure,” Heather said. “Blame the victim.”

“Not in front of Kendrick,” their mom said. “You’re making him blush.”

That might be true. Kendrick was a very dark-skinned African American guy, so sometimes it was hard to tell. He smiled down at his spaghetti and shook his head.

Her mom had caught Georgie on her cell phone that afternoon while she was waiting for Neal to call. “Let me make you dinner. I’m worried about you.”

“Don’t,” Georgie’d said. “Don’t worry.” But she’d still agreed to come by after work. Her mom made spaghetti with homemade meatballs, and pineapple upside down cake for dessert.

They’d all waited for Georgie to get here before they started eating, so she didn’t feel like she could excuse herself right away to try Neal again. (It was almost seven thirty, nine thirty in Omaha.)

She’d already tried his cell phone twice on the way here. It went straight to voicemail again—which didn’t necessarily mean he was still hanging out with Dawn, but also didn’t prove that he wasn’t.

(It was stupid to worry about Dawn. Neal was a teenager when he was with Dawn.)

(But weren’t people constantly leaving their spouses the moment their prom dates friended them on Facebook?)

(Plus Dawn never got old. In any sense of the word. It was always good to see her, and she always looked good. The last time Georgie’d seen Dawn, at Neal’s dad’s funeral, she looked like she’d never been removed from the package.)

“Did you talk to the girls today?” her mom asked.

“I talked to them yesterday,”

“How are they taking everything?”

“Fine.” Georgie choked down half a meatball. “There’s not actually anything to take, you know.”

“Kids are perceptive, Georgie. They’re like dogs” — she offered a meatball from her own fork to the pug heaped in her lap — “they know when their people are unhappy.”

“I think you may just have reverse-anthropomorphized your own grandchildren.”

Her mom waved her empty fork dismissively. “You know what I mean.”

Heather leaned into Georgie and sighed. “Sometimes I feel like her daughter. And sometimes I feel like the dog with the least ribbons.”

Heather was eating spaghetti, too, but out of a restaurant to-go box. Georgie decided not to ask. She glanced up at the clock — seven forty-five.

“You know, I promised I’d call Neal before it gets too late.” She’d promised his voicemail, anyway. “I’m just gonna run upstairs, if that’s okay . . .”

“But you haven’t finished eating,” her mom protested.

Georgie was already on the stairs. “I’ll be back down!”

Her heart was beating hard when she got to her room. Was she that out of shape? Or just that nervous?

She curled her fingers behind the hooks of the yellow phone and sat on the bed, pulling it into her lap and waiting to catch her breath.

Please answer, she thought, picturing Neal’s somber blue eyes and his stern jaw. Picturing his strong pale face. Please. I just really need to hear your voice right now . . .

She started dialing his cell, then hung up and tried the landline — maybe Margaret was a better bet to pick up; their parents’ generation still felt morally obligated to answer phones.

Georgie listened to it ring, trying to hold down the butterflies in her stomach. Trying to crush them, actually, into butterfly bits and pieces.

“Hello?”

Neal. Finally.

Neal, Neal, Neal.

The butterflies burst back to life and started fluttering up Georgie’s throat. She swallowed. “Hey.”

“Georgie.” He said it like he was confirming something. Gently confirming.

“Hey,” repeated.

“I didn’t think you’d call again.”

“I told your mom I would. I told you the last time we talked — why wouldn’t I?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t think you’d call then either.”

“I love you,” she blurted out.

“What?”

“The last time we — you hung up before I could tell you that I love you.”

“So you called to say you love me?”

“I . . .” Georgie felt so confused. “I called to make sure you got in okay. To see how you are. To see how the girls are.”

Neal laughed. Not in a good way. It was the sound effect his defenses made when they snapped into place. “The girls,” he said. “The girls are fine. Are you talking about Dawn? Because I haven’t seen her.”

“What? Your mom said you were over there today.”

“When did you talk to my mom?”

“Today. She said Dawn was showing you her cockatiel. Amadeus.”

“Dawn’s cockatiel is named Falco.”

Georgie tucked in her chin, defensively. “Sorry. I’m not an expert in Dawn’s cockatiels.”

“Neither am I.”

She shook her head and took her glasses off, holding her palm against her eye. “Neal. Look. I’m sorry. This isn’t why I called.”

“Right. You called to tell me that you love me.”

Yeah. Actually. Yes, I did. I love you.

“Well, I love you, too. That isn’t the problem, Georgie.” His voice was almost a whisper.

Georgie whispered, too. “Neal. I didn’t know you were this upset . . . You should have told me you were this upset before you left. I wouldn’t have let you go — I would have come with.”

He laughed again, and this time it was even worse. “I should have told you?” he hissed. “I did tell you. I said, “I can’t do this anymore.’ I said ‘I love you, but I’m not sure it’s enough, I’m not sure it will ever be enough.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to live like this, Georgie’ — remember?”

Georgie was speechless. She did remember. But . . .

“Just a second,” Neal said quietly. “I don’t want to have this conversation in front of my parents .  .  .” What he said next was muffled: “Dad, can you hang this up when I get upstairs?”

“Sure, tell your Georgie girl I said hi.”

“You can tell her yourself. She’s right there.”

“Georgie?” someone said into the phone. Someone who was not Neal’s dad. Who couldn’t be.

“Mr. Grafton?”

“We’re sorry you couldn’t come for Christmas this year. We made it snow for you and everything.”

“I’m sorry I missed it,” Georgie said she must have said it, she heard herself say it.

“Well maybe next year,” he said. He who was not, who could not be, Neal’s dad — who was dead. Who died in a train yard three years ago.

There was a click, then the hollow sound of another phone on the line. “I’ve got it, Dad, thanks.”

“See ya, Georgie girl,” Neal’s dad said. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas,” she said. Autonomically.

There was another click.

Georgie sat completely still.

“Georgie?”

“Neal?”

“Are you okay — are you crying?”

She was crying. “I . . . I’m really tired. I haven’t been sleeping, and Neal, oh my God, I just imagined the strangest thing. I imagined your dad telling me Merry Christmas. Isn’t that —”

“He did tell you Merry Christmas.”

She sucked in a breath.

“Georgie?”

“I don’t think I should be talking right now . . .”

“Georgie, wait.”

“I can’t talk right now, Neal. I just . . . I have to go.”

She slammed the phone down onto the cradle, looked at it for a second, maybe two, then shoved it away from her. It fell to the ground with a heavy, clanging thump. The receiver went flying into the bedside table.

Georgie stared at it.

This wasn’t right. None of this was right . . .

Neal’s dad was dead. Neal always said I love you. And he knew who the girls were.

And also . . . also, especially — especially, especially — Neal’s dad was dead.

Georgie was . . . She must be imagining things.

Exhausted. She was exhausted.

And upset. Too much stress. Not enough sleep.

Also, maybe someone had drugged her — that was possible. That was more possible than Neal’s dad coming back from the dead to wish her Merry Christmas. Which didn’t. Just. Happen.

What else hadn’t happened today? Had she even gone to work? Had she spent last night on the couch? Had she ever woken up?

Wake up! Wake the fuck up, Georgie!

Maybe when she woke up, when she really woke up, she’d find Neal lying beside her. Maybe they wouldn’t even be fighting. (Were they fighting?) Maybe, in the real world, the waking world, Georgie and Neal never fought.

“I had a dream that things were just like they are now,” she’d say when she woke up, “but we weren’t happy. And it was Christmas, and you left me. . .”

“Georgie?” Her mom was calling from the bottom of the stairs. Unless Georgie was dreaming that, too. “Are you okay?” her mom shouted.

“I’m fine!” Georgie shouted back.

Her mom came up anyway. “I heard a noise,” she said from the doorway. She looked down at the phone, lying stretched out and off the hook on the floor. “Is everything all right?”

Georgie wiped her eyes. “Fine. I’m just” — she shook her head — “I don’t know, maybe having a nervous breakdown.”

“Of course you are, honey. Your husband left you.”

“He didn’t leave me,” Georgie said. But maybe he did. Maybe that’s why Georgie was falling apart. “I think I need to rest.”

“That’s a good idea.”

“Or maybe I need a drink.”

Her mom came into the room and picked up the phone, setting it back on the table. “I hardly think you should start drinking.”

Had Georgie been drinking already? Had this ever happened before? Was she blacking out?

“Do you remember Neal’s dad?” she asked her mom.

“Paul? Of course. Neal looks just like him.”

“Looks? Or looked?”

“What?”

“What do you know about Neal’s dad?” Georgie asked.

“What are you talking about? Didn’t he have a heart attack?”

“Yes,” Georgie reached out and grabbed her mom’s arm. “He had a heart attack.”

Her mom looked significantly more concerned. “Do you think you’re having a heart attack?”

“No,” Georgie said. Was she having a heart attack? A stroke maybe? She smiled and touched her own cheeks; nothing seemed to be drooping. “No. No, I just need some rest, I think.”

“I don’t think you should drive home.”

“I don’t think so either.”

“Okay.” Her mom studied her. “You’ll get through this, Georgie. I thought I’d spend the rest of my life alone after your dad and I split up.”

“You left him for another guy.”

Her mom shook her head dismissively. “These feelings aren’t rational. There’s nothing rational about marriage.”

“A fatal heart attack, right?”

“Why are you fixated on Neal’s dad? Poor man. Poor Margaret.”

“I don’t know,” Georgie said. “I just need to rest.”

“You rest.” Her mom turned off the light on her way out.

#

Georgie lay in the dark for an hour.

She cried some more.

And talked to herself. “I’m imagining things. I’m tired. I’m just tired.”

She closed her eyes and tried to sleep.

She opened them again, and watched the yellow phone.

She thought about going home. She went out and sat in the car for a while. Eventually, she plugged in her cell phone and tried to call Neal. (He didn’t pick up.) (Because he never fucking picks up. And maybe he had left her, maybe they were so out of synch that Georgie didn’t even recognize when he was actually, really leaving her. Maybe he’d already told her he was leaving, and she just hadn’t listened.)

She sat in the car and cried.

Then she tried his mom’s number, even though it was late. She just needed to talk to him again. Normally. She needed to have a normal conversation to reset everything.

His mom’s line was busy. Maybe Neal took it off the hook. Or maybe his dad had some really important ghost phone calls to make at midnight central time.

Georgie thought again about trying to sleep. She thought about how all her freaking out was probably making this situation — whatever this situation was — worse.

Then she went inside and went through the kitchen cabinets until she found a bottle of creme de menthe, probably left over from the last time her mom made grasshopper pie. (Her mom and Kendrick weren’t drinkers.) (Potheads? Possibly. Neal suspected.)

Georgie drank it straight. It was like getting drunk on syrup.

At some point she must have fallen asleep.

 

Taken from Landline by Rainbow Rowell

 

 

LandlineHBYou can Click & Collect Landline from your local Waterstones bookshop, buy it online at Waterstones.com or download it in ePub format

Add to basket button
Click and collect button
eBook button

 

Meet Rainbow Rowell this July – find out which Waterstones bookshops she will be visiting

 

 

What do you think?