In the early afternoon, the sun set behind the mountains casting Jenna's house into the shade. The narrow valley was tucked between mountains on the east and west side so that even on the longest summer days, the valley was in the sunlight for only about six hours. The rest of the time became a gentle mix of twilight and early darkness. It was only about 3 in the afternoon and Jenna was still waiting.
She was waiting for the telephone man and her first telephone. Jenna's house was very old and she had lived there all of her eighty one years. Along the way she had many people tell her how she had to have a phone. "What if there is an emergency, how could someone reach you quickly?"
Jenna would answer, "Well the only person I would worry about is my daughter Eileen and I would simply walk over to her house or she could walk here. I suppose if it's an emergency I could perhaps run over there, that should do fine."
"But you just have to have a phone, maybe people would talk more to you if you had a phone."
She'd reply, "And then I'd jus' be talking to the telephone, not one of my friends."
After several months of badgering from her friends and even her daughter, Jenna finally agreed to get a phone. Now of course, her daughter and her spent another several weeks deciding on the phone she needed to get. Once they placed the order, the phone company then said it would take forty-eight hours to install the phone. After another week and a half, Jenna's daughter finally got a commitment from them that the phone would be in on November 27th.
It was nearly three thirty on the 27th and no one had shown up. Eileen was just about to call when she saw the phone company van pulling into her mother's driveway. She walked over and stood with her mother while the phone guy fed the wire along the eaves of the house and then through a small hole he drilled near the bedroom. He pulled the phone wire through the wall and installed a phone jack in the bedroom wall.
Carefully climbing into the attic, he pulled another line so he could install a jack in the kitchen. Once he finished he explained that, although there was two jacks, the order was for only one phone, so he was going to leave them with just the one phone. He did show Jenna and Eileen how to move the phone from one jack to the other.
When he finished his explanation Eileen asked, "Okay, now when will the phone actually work?"
"Well the phone works fine now, but there isn't a phone line up to the house. We will draw a line from the box over there," he said, pointing to the green box in front of Eileen's house.
"When will you do that?"
"I don't know, another crew will do that. They will pull the line and attach it to the box right here," he said, stepping outside and pointing to the back corner of the house. "Once that is done the phone will work."
Eileen and Jenna watched as the van pulled out of the driveway and headed off into the darkness. Jenna turned and walked into her house and headed to the bedroom. Eileen followed her and when the old woman sat down on her bed she asked, "Mother, what are you doing?"
"I got to get used to this phone thing, I might as well start now."
"But it's not even working yet."
"That's good, this way I'll be used to it by the time the phone get's to working."
Each day when Eileen came to visit she found her mother sitting and staring at the phone. When she asked her mother why, she replied, "I'm still gettin' used to it."
The phone company finally got the wire pulled and connected to the house about a week after they had left the phone with Jenna. They ran a small machine that poked the wire down into the ground all the way up to the house. Once the wire was in they connected it to the box and then went inside.
The phone man stepped back outside almost immediately, "Ma'm there's something wrong with the phone or perhaps the line in the house so the phone doesn't work."
"You can't fix it?" Eileen asked.
"No, there's another guy who does that," the man said picking up his tools.
"And when will they be out."
"Should be in the next couple of days he replied," before climbing into his truck.
Five days later the first telephone man came back to the house and checked out the phone and the line inside. He fiddled with a few things and then came over to talk to Eileen and her mother. "Well I have that taken care of," he replied.
"Well does the phone work now?"
"Now, they have to turn it on at the main office, as soon as I check back in. It should be working by tomorrow."
Eileen and her mother went back into the house. Jenna headed straight back to her room and sat down near the phone. When Eileen walked in she saw her mother actually pick up the receiver and move her fingers over a few of the settings. She sat down and asked, "Well mother, are you getting used to the phone."
"I do believe I am," she replied, now I just have to wait for someone to call me.
The next morning Eileen woke up and looked over at her phone. "Surely her mother's phone was working by then," she thought, so she reached over and picked up the receiver. Picking up a slip of paper from the nightstand she slowly dialed her mother's number. Listening in the receiver she heard it ringing and thought, "Finally, the phone is working."
When it rang a second time Eileen realized she could actually hear her mother's phone ringing from her own house. "Oh dear, mother must have turned up the volume on the ringer, "she said to herself.
She let it ring about four more times but when her mother didn't answer, she hung up the phone and walked over. Sticking her head in the front door she called out, "Mother, why haven't you answered the phone?"
He mother didn't answer, so Eileen stepped in the door, calling out, "Mother, are you okay?"
Again, no reply. Eileen then walked into her mother's room and saw her motionless on the bed. She rushed over and shook her, "Mother, mother are you asleep?" When there was no response she picked up the phone and called their doctor.
About thirty minutes later the doctor arrived and rushed in. As he was checking on Jenna, and ambulance also arrived. Eileen stood in the corner of Jenna's room watching in horror as the doctor and then the ambulance crew confirmed she was dead. As the ambulance crew loaded her onto the gurney Eileen pulled the doctor aside.
"What happened to her doctor?"
"It looks like a heart attack Eileen, something must have startled her or something, I mean just by the look of her face. It could be most anything thing, a loud noise maybe."
"A loud noise?"
"Yes, most likely."
Eileen walked back to the phone and looking at the ringer volume she saw that her mother had set it on the loudest tone. Recalling the phone had rung so loud she could hear it in her house next door, Eileen sat down on the bed and adjusted the volume down. Now her mother's phone would work properly.