one hundred word story #34: Party Line

The unmarried woman on the block began fielding mysterious calls from a Frenchman. The party line crackled to attention. When their conversations swerved out of English, the ladies listening in assumed the worst—no one else on the block spoke French. The ladies cut each other off, some in English, some in Yiddish, sometimes saying the same thing, sometimes not. And then: a thin, restrained question. “What is my life to you—a party?” The line went silent for a full minute, quiet enough to hear glasses clinking. And then: French, less plaintive this time, followed by a gentle click.