Her Last Call

When my mother told me that Catarina was coming to stay with us for a few days, I immediately started going through all the stages of grief. First, I tried to deny that it was going happen, to which Mom just replied that I’d have a say in house guests once I started paying half of the mortgage. That made me angry, so I gave her the silent treatment, pouty glares and all. When she seemed amused by that, I moved to bargaining; I told her I’d do all the housework for a month if Cat didn’t come. I got a pat on the head, taken up on my offer to clean more and, oh by the way, she was still coming.

Depression and acceptance occurred at the same time. I was miserable while I cleaned my room, making space on the floor for the air mattress that my cousin would use, and I grumbled loudly the entire time.

“Cheer up, buttercup.” Mom said as she passed my door, “It’s only for a week.”

A very long, very frustrating week in which I would have to share my sanctuary with one of my least favorite people. Mom knew how I felt about Cat, I was very vocal about it, but it didn’t change the fact that she let my aunt and uncle drop her off on our doorstep every time they went out of town. I was convinced they viewed their yearly vacation as a much needed break from their daughter, but Mom said that was a terrible thing to suggest and I wasn’t allowed to verify whether it was true.

“You’re both a bit older now, maybe you’ll have more things in common.” Mom was an eternal optimist, “Just try to be nice.”

But the moment Cat stepped into my room, I knew this visit would be no different than any of the others. She threw her things onto my bed, gave me a disinterested once over, and pulled out her phone. Only two years separated us, but Cat had quite the Queen Bee complex and couldn’t be bothered with someone so beneath her as a fourteen year old.

Before bed that night, Cat took the invitation to make herself at home to the next level. She convinced my mom that the air mattress would be too uncomfortable and cause her back pain, so I was forced to switch. Cat watched me get settled on the mattress with a victorious smirk and I wanted nothing more than to bean her right in her face with whatever was closest at hand. While I struggled to find a comfortable position, she reclined against her pillows and blasted obnoxiously loud music from her phone.

I had only just managed to get Catarina to turn off her music, shut off the light, and agree to sleep when her phone rang. Instantly I was sitting upright again, one of my pillows in hand, aimed at my cousin.

“Don’t you dare answer it.” I said warningly.

She scoffed and I was reminded, once again, why I disliked her so strongly. I launched the pillow at Cat’s face but she smacked it aside and flipped me off before answering. To annoy me further, she put the call on speaker.

“Who is this?”


“Who’s asking?”

“Th-this is Virginia Press, from school?” There was something odd about the way the girl spoke; a nervous, twitchy energy that made me uncomfortable.

“Virgin?” Cat said incredulously, “How did you get my number? Why the hell are you even calling me?”

“Because there’s something I need to-to say to you.”

“This couldn’t, like, wait until Monday?”

“N-no, I need to say it now.”

Cat heaved a put upon sigh, “Fine, whatever, but when you’re done, delete my number. I don’t need weirdos like you calling me and pretending we’re friends.”

“Th-that’s your problem.” Virginia said, her voice thick with trembling emotion, “You treat people like crap! You say what you want, you hurt our feelings, but you don’t care!”

“This is why you cal-”

“Shut up!” The girl was shouting into the phone, “You always get to do the talking, but it’s my turn now! You’re a horrible person, Catarina! You’re nasty and mean and you make everyone who isn’t just like you miserable!”

The shock that crossed Catarina’s face was delicious. I doubted anyone had ever spoken to her that way and I was only too happy to have a front row seat when it finally happened.

“You’ve made me miserable for so long. I know it was you who made everyone start calling me Virgin. I know it was you who photoshopped those pictures of me and I know it was you who started the rumors about me being a lesbian. I can’t go into the locker room or bathroom anymore without people screaming that I’m trying to look at them!”

Catarina mimed a yawn at me and I scowled. This poor girl was obviously hurting and Cat couldn’t have cared less.

“People started calling my house and telling my parents. My dad wanted to throw me out!”

“Not my problem, Virgin.” Cat said.

“It is, though. This all started because of you. I never did anything to you and you’ve made everyone hate me!”

“No I didn’t. They hated you because you’re just such a fucking freak.”

“That’s ok.” Virginia’s voice had become eerily calm. I thought I could hear wind whistling in the background, “It’s not going to be anyone’s problem really soon.”


“I just wanted to tell you…I wanted you to know so that you never doubted it…this is all your fault.”

Virginia started to scream.

It was so loud, full of fear, and it went on and on for what felt like minutes, muffled only by the sound of wind whipping wildly by. Cat fumbled to pick her phone up, desperately trying to hang up, and I wanted her to so badly, but her hands were shaking and clumsy.

The screaming ended abruptly in a heavy, wet thud.

We stared at one another, eyes wide, speechless and pale. The phone crackled a couple of times and then went quiet.

“Did she…?” I couldn’t bring myself to ask the full question.

Cat gaped dumbly, her mouth opening and closing, and she just kept shaking her head in disbelief.

“Girls?” We jumped when my mom knocked on the bedroom door, “Everything ok in there?”

Before Cat could answer, I had sprung up and pulled the door open to throw myself into Mom’s arms. She pat my back comfortingly, but was obviously confused, and when Cat didn’t answer her, she tipped my tear streaked face upwards.

“Baby? What’s wrong?”

“I think she killed herself!” I cried.

“What? Who?”

“The girl on the phone!”

We both looked over to Cat, who had taken on a greenish tint. She ran from the bed, shoving past us on her way out, and locked herself in the bathroom. We listened in stunned silence as she vomited violently.

Cat didn’t come out for hours and refused to speak to us through the door, so it was up to me to tell Mom what had happened. She was horrified and, for a moment, I thought she’d be sick too. She collected herself quickly, though, and told me to go try to sleep in her bed for a while while she took care of things. I lay awake the rest of the night, unable to get Virginia’s terrified shrieking out of my head.

The police found her body the next morning at the foot of the town water tower. They said she used a pair of bolt cutters lying nearby to get through the chain link fence and she’d climbed all the way to the top.

That’s why I heard wind when she was talking, I thought numbly as we watched the story unfold on the news, she was already up there.

After it got out that her last call had been to Cat, I had thought for sure that she would be shunned for her part in the girl’s death, but her friends rallied around her. They blamed Virginia for “putting Cat through such an ordeal” and said it was so cruel for her to do such a thing when Cat had only ever played harmless pranks. I was floored by their response and angry that they were turning Virginia into a villain, but there was nothing I could do. I’d never met the girl, hadn’t even known who she was prior to that night. She’d just been another upperclassman lost in our crowded school.

Cat seemed to recover from it all very quickly. Her parents offered to come back early from their vacation, but she declined. She was fine, she insisted, she was just going to put Virginia Press out of her mind and move on. She relished in the extra attention the situation was bringing and I overheard her tell and retell the story multiple times, treating it like some kind of spectator sport. I was disgusted by her behavior and, after so many days, I told her so.

Shecalled me. I have every right to tell my story.”

“Your story? Her death isn’t your story! You’re such a bitch!”

We started to argue, calling each other names and making catty remarks aimed to hurt. We were getting louder, more heated, and I was sure we were going to resort to physical fighting when her phone rang. It helped break some of the tension and I slumped back in my chair at my desk, watching her with narrowed eyes. She tossed another insult at me before answering.

“Who is this?” She demanded.

I watched the color drain from her face and she hung up quickly.

“Who was it?” I couldn’t help asking.

“N-no one. Mind your own busi-”

The phone rang again.

She glanced down at it, but didn’t answer. Her expression was agitated. The ringtone kept playing, an endless loop of some Lady Gaga song, long after it should have gone to voicemail. Cat threw the phone on to my bed and backed away towards the door. I could see the caller ID read “Unknown”.

“What the hell, Cat?”

“Don’t answer it.” She said.

But whoever was calling wasn’t going to be ignored. There was only so many times I could listen to the same few lines of a song before I snapped and, despite her trying to stop me, I lunged at the phone and answered it.



That voice; I knew it instantly. I didn’t think I’d ever forget it.


“Th-this is Virginia Press, from school?”

Cat snatched the phone away from me and hung up. She was shaking, caught somewhere between fear and fury.

“It’s a prank.” She said, “Some sicko trying to make me feel bad.”

Her phone went off again. This time she answered immediately.

“I don’t know who this is, but if you don’t knock it off, I’m calling the co-”

“Shut up!” I could hear Virginia’s voice shouting, “You always get to do the talking, but it’s my turn now! You’re a horrible person, Catarina! You’re nasty and mean and you make everyone who isn’t just like you miserable!”

Cat released a frightened sob and again cut off the call. We looked at one another, uncertain and afraid, and then down to the phone. It rang again. Cat tried to decline the call, but it didn’t matter, it kept ringing.

“Give it to me!” I said and I tore the battery out of the back.

The screen didn’t even flicker.

Ra-ra-ooh-la-la! Want your bad romance!

Cat and I bolted from the room, leaving both phone and battery on the floor behind us. As we ran through the kitchen, the house phone went off. When that was ignored, my own phone followed suit and I tore it from my pocket. The caller came up as “Unknown”. I chucked it over my shoulder and we ran out of the house, tears streaming down our faces.

Mom came home to find us huddled on the front steps, shaking and crying and unable to tell her why. When she tried to get us back in the house, we begged her to take us over to Cat’s and stay there for a while, but she refused unless we told her what was going on.

“Virginia’s been calling!” I finally shouted.

Mom was immediately sympathetic and sat between us, an arm around each of our shoulders, “What you’ve been through was very traumatic, girls, and I’m so sorry for that, but you know Virginia can’t can’t be calling.”

“It was, though!” I insisted and Mom kissed the top of my head.

“It was probably just someone who sounded like her and you got scared. That’s ok.”

“But she said the exact same things!”

“Our brains can trick us when we’re afraid, baby, that’s all.”

“Cat, tell her!”

I looked pleadingly at my cousin, who just shook her head. She’d calmed considerably since Mom came home and now looked annoyed at me, “I can’t believe I let you get me so worked up over nothing. Your mom’s right.”

I had never felt so betrayed. Before I could argue further, Mom handed off her car keys to Cat and told her to take me to the pizza place and grab some dinner, her treat. She was too tired from work to join us, but would watch a movie with us when we got home. The last thing I wanted to do was spend more time with Cat, who was now a liar on top of everything else, but I was told in the Mom Voice that it would be fun and I was going.

Grudgingly, we agreed, knowing full well Mom wouldn’t have it any other way. Mom gave us each a twenty dollar bill and told us to call if we needed anything. She didn’t know we both left our phones home.

“Why did you lie?” I asked angrily after we got into the car.

“Because she’s right! You were getting scared and I let it get to me. It was probably a telemarketer or something. I should have known better.” Cat didn’t look at me as we backed out.

“You were scared first! You heard her, you know it was Virginia! We even took your battery out!”

“Drop it!” She snarled and I shrank away.

We sat in glum silence for most of the ride. Cat kept her eyes locked on the road ahead of her and her hands in white knuckled fists around the steering wheel. I had just started to think that maybe they were right and I’d imagined it all, maybe it really had just been some woman who happened to sound like Virginia, when the radio clicked on.

“You’ve made me miserable for so long. I know it was you who made everyone start calling me Virgin. I know it was you who photoshopped those pictures of me and I know it was you who started the rumors about me being a lesbian. I can’t go into the locker room or bathroom anymore without people screaming that I’m trying to look at them!”

The car swerved dangerously with Cat’s surprise. She pulled over sharply and slammed a hand down on the radio’s power button, shutting it off. We didn’t look at each other, didn’t speak, we just sat there, because now there was no denying what we’d heard. After a moment, Cat pulled back out into traffic and we continued on to the pizza place. The radio stayed off the rest of the way there.

If I tried to speak, Cat would cut me off with a quick, “Shut up!” and I eventually gave up. She parked across the street from the pizza place, shot me a dark, frightened look, and climbed out. I followed mechanically behind.

We had just been seated at a table and given menus when the restaurant’s loudspeaker crackled noisily.

“I just wanted to tell you…I wanted you to know so that you never doubted it…this is all your fault.”

Virginia’s screaming flooded the room, swallowing all other sound. The other customers went quiet and cast confused looks around while the employees scrambled to shut off the PA system, but it didn’t matter. I knew what was coming and I threw my hands over my ears so that I didn’t have to hear it again; the dull, meaty sound of Virginia’s body hitting the ground.

Some of the other customers were getting upset, demanding in raised voices to know what was going on. A few got out of their seats and went to the counter, where the unfortunate cashier could only hold up his hands defensively and offer an apology.

Despite my ears being covered, I could still hear Virginia’s voice on the loudspeaker.

“…this is all your fault……this is all your fault……this is all your fault.”

Cat was gripping the edge of the table, her breathing shallow and quick. She reminded me of a small animal looking to escape a predator. When the screaming started again, she leapt up from her seat and ran from the restaurant. She didn’t stop or even slow down, she just ran out into the road, trying to put distance between herself and the sound of Virginia’s voice.

I doubted the drivers had any time to even see Cat, much less try to avoid her, and I could only watch as my cousin bounced off the hood of a passing car and was thrown beneath the wheels of an oncoming SUV.

When she came back into view, lying very still in the middle of the road, her back to me, Virginia’s screaming immediately stopped and mine began.


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