I was at work when the phone rang. “Hello, Shane Cleaners. How may I help you?”
“Hello,” the voice sounded familiar, “is this Vatche?”
“Umm, this is him.” I tried to remember where I’ve heard the voice before. I looked at the caller ID and noticed it was a blocked call. The only time a blocked call came through was whenever my father was calling.
“Who’s this?” I asked the nostalgic voice.
“Ed?” I called back and saw a slideshow of memories in front of my eyes.
Ed and his two brothers were playing basketball with me. Edward was telling jokes about school inside his father’s kitchen. I was watching Edward studying at one of the customer’s tables of his father’s restaurant.
Flash after flash.
Edward was showing his report card to his father. Edward was playing Playstation with his brothers and me on an old TV set. Edward was driving off to UC Riverside. The last flash was Edward’s graduation.
“Vatche? Are you there?” Ed’s voice called me back into reality.
“Umm, yeah, I’m here.” I looked at my boss, put up my hand, and mouthed the words, “Five minutes.”
She shook her head.
“So what’s up, Ed? How’s everything?” I tried to remember when the last time I saw Edward was, but kept drawing blanks.
“Nothing much, just chilling here at your dad’s store.” I remembered the caller ID of the number. “So how is school going? Got any college acceptances yet?”
“School is good. I just got accepted to UC Irvine, actually, and—”
“UC Irvine, is that where you want to go?”
“Yeah, it has a good writing program.”
“UC Irvine, eh? Have you ever thought of going to a community college?” A community college? My dad wanted me to go to a community college. Was this a setup?
“Well, yeah, but I kind of worked my butt off in AP classes and stuff, so I could get into the colleges I really wanted to go to.”
“You know, I went to UC Riverside, but I kind of regret it. I mean I went for screenwriting and realized it was too tough of a field with a lot of competition. I ended up changing my major to accounting, because I can make a living with that and money. I regret that I wasted my dad’s money going to
“I want to be a writer and—”
“I know you want to be a writer, Vatche.” I heard his voice only echo more memories in my mind.
I was showing him my stories when I was younger.
He was showing me what books to read.
He was always encouraging my writing.
Now, the world has swallowed my friend whole. The college world has chewed him up, spit him out, and left him as an empty shell. He was an empty shell, because he discarded his dreams and only went after the money. I knew that if I follow my passion that the money will come.
Edward didn’t follow his dreams of being a screenwriter and now I was talking to his remains. The remnant of my friend, who once wanted to be a screenwriter, was now only a voice.
“Yeah, I know that you know,” I sighed and looked at my boss, who pointed at her watch.
“Vatche, I’m just calling to remind you that it’s a tough world. If that’s your passion, follow it through. All that I am saying is that if you have any doubts go to community college. Go there and try to find your calling. Don’t be single-minded and stick to one road. I’m here to remind you of your options.”
“Ed?” I called out to his voice.
“I have no doubts and make sure to tell my dad that, as well.”
“Ok,” he laughed.
“Bye, Ed. It was nice talking to you.”
“See yah later, Vatche.”
The conversation between us ended, but our voices traveled in our minds and echoed. In my mind, it caused memories of spending time with Edward, writing, and going over storylines with him. Edward could’ve been a great screenwriter, I knew it without a doubt, but he gave up on his dream. My father, who also gave up on his dream, continued to test my passion and my patience.
This phone call has made me question myself, but I continued to walk on the same path. I will be a writer; I promised myself that five years ago.