I rarely was allowed to lie on the cot, since it was obvious that my illness was actually the fact that I was sick of school, so I sat in the waiting room, and had no choice but to take in the dull environment around me.
But when the Nurse picked up the heavy receiver, I became a hunting dog: my ears prickled with the sense of waiting for the next sounds: the rotation of the telephone dial, as it made its noisy way to the small curved finger stop, and then the momentary release, and more relaxed slide back to it’s base.
That sound occurred seven times, and its duration varies depending on the location of the numbers: the brief staccato of the one, all the way to the long, slow pull then exhale of the zero, which erroneously appears after the nine. I knew those sounds so intimately that I waited for the first one to be a deep, long nine, and knew that my number might be the one. It was too. Short to be a seven, which at the time was the only other option. My neighborhood, and therefore any other sick student, or anyone the Nurse might call for that matter, would only be in the range of a phone number that started with a nine, like mine, or the even more popular seven.