“Can you hear me now?”
“Well, obviously. It’s the Universal Rule that as soon as you say those words, you come through loud and clear.”
Sis goes on, “So, as I was saying, he…” The line crackles. “…up…need…”
“Oh, sod it!”
“I heard that. That’s the other Universal Rule. Swear words are immune to signal drop.” I laugh. “Where are you anyway?”
“Hello!” This is ridiculous. How can anyone carry on a conversation like this? It’s always the same with Sis.
My voice must have got through, though.
“I’m on the hill.”
“As usual. You’re always on that hill, Sis.”
“You know I’ve got to…” Again. The line drops.
“Why don’t you ever call me by my proper bloody name?” There’s the swearing rule coming through clear as a row of handbells.
“The line sounds clear now. Try again with your story.” I know what Sis is like; the swearing could escalate to a tirade any minute now.
“OK, so, he’s really messed up and…”
“Walk a bit faster. You might get better signal as you get higher.”
I can hear what sounds like a gale blowing. There’s a very faint voice. It sounds like it’s down a toilet, or, more accurately, at the bottom of a long-drop.
“I can’t hear you.”
A voice booms. “I said, you know fully well I can’t go any faster. This is a big enough struggle as it is.” The booming pauses. “Can you still hear me?”
“I refer you to Universal Rule Number 1.”
“Why don’t you just call me when you’ve got to the top?” I shout. I don’t know why I’m shouting. That’s not going to make the signal cooperate.
There’s a beep. The line has gone dead.
The phone immediately flashes the name up again. Sisyphus. Who calls a child that, anyway?
I’m not going to answer now. I’ll call him back later. He might have got to the top of that hill by then.
R. J. Kinnarney is an author and tutor. Her first children’s book, Abigail Aces Acting, has been described as ‘delightful, unpredictable and very funny’. It’s currently being enjoyed by children and by adults who’ve refused to grow up.