There’s a pay phone in the way back next to the men’s bathroom. I drop in all the change I’ve got and make the call. It rings four times and goes to voicemail. I hear my mom’s familiar message.
“Hi, this is Mary Smith. I can’t come to the phone right now because I’ve probably been carried away by griffins. But if you leave your name and number, I’ll get back to you just as quickly as Hermes would.” There’s a pause, and then she says to me, “Cameron, did I do that right? Oh! We’re still recording! Oh my goodness…,” and her laugh is cut off. That message used to annoy the crap out of me, my mom being all spacey and mom-ish. But right now, hearing her voice is the best thing in the world, like waking up and realizing there’s no school. There’s a beep, and my stomach tightens.
“Um, hi, Mom. It’s me. Cameron. Well, you probably ﬁgured that part out,” I say, sounding like the biggest dork. “Anyway, I’m okay. I want you to know that ﬁrst. And, you know what? Keep grading those moronic English Comp 101 papers, because otherwise, we’re all gonna be getting our gas at the K-W-I-K S-E-R-V and drinking our E-X-P-R-E-S-S-Os at the Konstant Kettle, two K’s. Seriously, the world needs you. You matter. A lot. Okay, I gotta go, ’cause the grifﬁns are here and you know how much they hate to wait. Love you,” I add quickly, and hang up.
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