Here Is Another Part of My Not-Done Book
The town library had shelves and shelves of phone books from other places. After a few weeks of looking at them Betsy had all the area codes memorized. If you said the number you could think of the place, Maine was 207, the seven was like a lobster claw, New Hampshire was 603, the zero made her think of the temperature zero, because New Hampshire was cold, Oregon was 503, and five was between 1 and 10, the way Oregon was between Washington and California, three states, that was where they got the three, and the 0 was like the word of - it was the middle state (5) of three. 503. She stared at the number and thought of one day going to Oregon.
One day, when the house was empty, she took as many quarters and dimes as she thought she could take out of every jar without it looking like anyone had touched anything, and when she laid it all out on her bed and counted it, she had $28.
The area code in Albany was 518. This was a weird area code. It was a weird number, the one, coming after the number five, was such a letdown. She decided the whole number was just sad, like how Albany was probably sad for not being New York. She looked up rehab facilities near Albany, New York. There were six of them. She went to Price Chopper while she was supposed to be at the library and bought a phone card. She’d never been to Price Chopper by herself but no one seemed to notice an eleven year old girl buying a phone card.
The pay phone at the library had a door on it, and a little ledge where you could set a notebook and a pen, just like the phone both the guy in the detective show used. It was cozy in there. She wished she could just curl up and take a nap on the floor. But now she had to think of what she was going to say if she called. She didn’t want to blow it. She would just call and say she wanted to leave a message for a patient, and if he wasn’t there, they’d think she had the wrong hospital. Which she did, technically.
Would they know from her voice that she was not an adult?
Alone in the phone booth, she practiced different voices. She realized that if she let her chin drop down to her chest as she talked she sounded older, but it also sounded kind of stupid. Her face burned with the fear of getting in trouble. But she dialed a number in a town called Glens Falls, and when the phone asked for ninety cents, she dropped it in. There was a clicking sound, then a sound like air, then the ringing. “Glens Falls Mercy Hospital,” said a woman with a weird accent. She said Falls like Fahls, and hospital like He-ahspital. Betsy dropped her chin to her chest, insane and terrified, and asked to leave a message for a patient, Roger Baker. There was no one there named Roger Baker, but the woman just said that, she didn’t say, “What are you doing calling here? Who are you? How old are you?”