Ben would never understand what made him call the telephone number at the bottom of the simple personal ad he found in the Seattle Times. It was the strangest ad he’d ever seen in his life. Only two words in bold, “Wanted: Dad,” and the phone number were visible. Most personals tended to try to use the whole 200 word limit possible. Perhaps it was that which convinced him to dial the number included at the bottom of the ad.
Ben couldn’t remember much beyond the day he awoke in the ICU at Harborview Medical Center six years ago. Dr. Calhoun, the ICU doctor at the time, had explained that he’d suffered a head injury in the parking lot of the Westfield Southcenter mall. Thankfully, he’d still had his wallet and cellular phone in his pockets or he’d have been one of many Does staying at the hospital that month. Unfortunately, none of the information in it seemed even remotely familiar to him. Not even the name Benjamin James Lindgren seemed to fit him. He’d grown used to it since then, but he often found himself pulling out the wallet and phone and looking at the contents in the hope that, this time, something would seem familiar.
It was the phone number in the paper, however, that had caught his attention. It was one he’d found in the contact list saved on the cell phone they’d given him along with a single name, “David.” Ben couldn’t count the number of times he’d considered calling some of those numbers in the off chance that they could tell him who he was. He’d never done it, though. Fear was what held him back. Fear that he wouldn’t recognize the voice on the other end of the line or worse, they wouldn’t recognize him.
Now he sat listening while the dial tone buzzed in his ear. Brrp brrp. Brrp brrp. Brrp brrp. Click. “David Lindgren here,” said a professional-sounding voice. Ben’s heart jumped and sank at the same time. The voice sounded both familiar and not.
“Hello?” Ben offered hesitantly.
“Dad?” David responded, any hint of professionalism gone from his voice, replaced by excitement mixed generously with worry. “Is that you?”
“I guess so,” Ben faltered, feeling decidedly self-conscious now.
“You guess so?,” the other voice repeated, sounding slightly alarmed. “Dad, what happened?”
“I don’t really know,” Ben replied, deciding he was glad just to be talking to someone that seemed to know who he was. “I woke up in the hospital six years ago. I don’t really remember much before that.”
“Well, Dad,” David’s voice replied, “we need you to come home now. Mom is really sick. She’s in the hospital.”
Ben’s heart gave a sudden, inexplicable lurch. “What’s wrong with her?” he heard himself ask, concern in his voice for a woman whose name he couldn’t even remember.
“Her doctors don’t know yet,” David said, his own voice concerned, “Can you come home?”
“I don’t know where home is,” Ben reminded him gently.
“Don’t worry, Dad,” the voice said. “Where are you. I’ll come get you.”
Ben gave his address.
There was silence on the other end of the line for a moment. Then the other voice said, “You’re kidding, right?”
“You’re kidding, right?” the voice repeated, laughing now.
“No,” Ben replied, curious.
“Dad,” the voice continued to laugh, “you only live a couple of blocks away from us!”
“How is that possible?” Ben replied.
“I don’t know,” David enthused. “I’ll be there in a minute. We can go to the hospital together. Mom’ll be so happy.”
“Me, too, son,” Ben said, his heart sinking again as he ended the call. “Me, too.”
I think you can guess which of the two options I picked if you follow the link given and read the instructions. This is, perhaps, the second shortest story I’ve written coming in at 615 words, just in case you were curious.