Jen Air: Ring, Ring

This is a short slice-of-life story featuring characters from my Jen Air series.  I will likely post more shorts and excerpts in the future, but be aware they may contain some spoilers for the novels themselves.

Here, Jennifer Airhart, scientist, inventor, slayer of the evil queen, faces one of her most difficult challenges.  Again…

Ring, ring…

The lighthouse rooms had no corners that Jennifer could sink away into, but she put as much distance as possible between herself and the device, hunching slightly forward as she backed away with her hands clasped, her eyes wide.  And then she waited.

Ring, ring…

She hated this torture.  There was no way of knowing when it would stop, no way of controlling it.  Well, she could disconnect the wires, she supposed, but…

Ring, ring…

What was odd, Jen thought, was that if this was a person in the room with her, surely anyone would think them very rude if they just stood there ringing a bell and demanding she talk to them.  In many ways, ignoring it and choosing not to reward such obnoxious behaviour was the perfectly right thing to do.

Unfortunately, not everyone reasoned so well as her.  Tenley, for example, descended the stairs looking very cross.  “You know I can hear a pin drop from a mile away,” she whined, “so would you mind answering that thing and stop it making that irritating noise?”  Of course, she could be forgiven as she was only eleven years old.

Jennifer shook her head, saying quickly but quietly as if in prayer, “the phone hardly ever rings.  When it does its usually sales people, and I can’t talk to sales people.  They always end up selling me stuff.”

Tenley shifted her head and arched a brow.  “But what if it isn’t?”

“It usually is.  I have subscriptions to five different model railway magazines.  I don’t even own a model train.  The people on the phone just all sounded so nice that I couldn’t just tell them I wasn’t interested.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re kind of weird?”

The blonde turned her face to the girl, her round mouth suddenly a little agape as she blinked.  “No… no one ever has actually told me that.  Not to my face anyway…” the phone rang again, and Jen’s face lit up as she was struck by an idea.  “I’ve got it!  Why don’t you answer it?”

But Ten shrugged dismissively.  “It’s not my house.  Besides, as the adult don’t you think it’s your responsibility?  Could be some creep looking to prey on poor innocent children like me.”

“Well, I-I would be right beside you of course,” Jen smiled as reassuringly as she could fake.  “Please?”

Tenley shook her head, holding out her arms.  “Fine.  This time,” she made clear, and then went to pick up to receiver.  “Hello?” She said, then nodded.  “Uh-huh.  Yeah… she’s here.  Jen,” the girl suddenly turned with a wicked smile on her face as she thrust the handset right in front of Jen’s nose.

The blonde yelped, trying to catch the receiver as Ten let go.  It ended up bouncing off her hands and spinning in the air several times until Jennifer fell forward with the wires coiled round her wrists.  By the time she had untangled herself, it was obvious that somewhere on the way the phone had been cut off.  So she slammed it back on its stand and glared at Ten, who was rolling over herself laughing.

“You betrayed me!” The blonde accused.  Still, she was smiling as she picked up a box of plastic bulbs and started to fling them at the girl, chasing her as Tenley easily dodged her throws.  But the fun was not to last very long…

Ring, ring…

Jen put the bulb she was holding back into the box as she visibly deflated.  She looked to Ten, but she supposed it would just be madness to try the same thing again.  This time, she would have to talk to them, whoever they were, and accept whatever consequences there were.

Or maybe not.  The door opened and Kaya Cade walked, pulling phones out of her ears.  Today she had dyed her hair blue and pink, and didn’t even look at them as she walked briskly to the phone.  “Jesus, are neither of you ever gonna answer that thing?” She sighed and picked up.  “Yeah, hello?  Nah, sorry… she’s busy.  Okay.  Bye.”

Busy!  That was brilliant… Jen wondered why she never thought of that.  Kay just somehow made these things all look so easy.

The punk stared across the round room at the others, narrowing her eyes as she shrugged, “what?”


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