Wrong Number, Good Connection
by Biku

Amy Watterson was feeling a bit nervous. Jittery, almost. Why she felt anxious about a simple party, she didn't know. Actually, she did know: she hated parties. She hated crowds of people, she didn't like to drink, she wasn't any good at conversation.... parties were her personal idea of purgatory. But a co-worker had invited her out, to a house-warming; she had been able to think of an appropriate excuse in time, so, with a sigh, she had agreed. The co-worker, a bubbly sort of person, hadn't noticed Amy's discomfort; she had just chirped "Okay then! See you at eight!" and bounded off to corner someone else.

Amy had gotten the directions from another co-worker, and was here, promptly, at eight. She stared at the doors to the apartment building. Sharleen, the bubbly co-worker, lived on the twentieth storey. She was very proud of the view from her balcony, which of course meant that Amy was going to be dragged out to admire it. Amy hated heights.

Taking a deep breath, she stepped through the doors. There was a small intercom system set up; Amy was supposed to call Sharleen, so that Sharleen could open the door. Easy enough.

I could pretend I got sick. I could pretend I got lost. Amy's hand reached out towards the phone and picked up the reciever. I could pretend I was abducted by aliens. I could pretend I was attacked by rabid wolves. I could...

She dialed the number, holding her breath. There was still time to make a hasty get-away. She didn't have to go through with this.

"...that number is not inservice, please--"

Amy blinked, suddenly aware of the voice on the other end of the phone. Out of service? But she had dialled the right numbers... It was then that she noticed the small sign affixed with duct tape to the phone: "intercom not workin sorry". She blinked again, surprised by both the good fortune and the lousy spelling. She began to brighten immediately. "Well! I guess that solves that problem--"

"Yeah, the phone's not working, eh?" replied a cheerful voice behind her. She jumped, startled, and turned to see an older man come in from the outside, with his dog on a leash. "The super said he'd fix it, but hasn't got around to yet. You wanting to go to the party?"

"Actually, yes," Amy answered, surprised. "I--"

"Well, don't worry about it, I can let you in," the man said, still cheerful, pulling his keys from his pocket. "No problem at all."

"Thank you," Amy said, lamely, walking through as he held the door open.

"No problem. Have a nice time, all right?" The man waved as he headed off down the corridor, leaving her to face the bank of elevators. What number was Sharleen again? 20 something... no, it was 19 something. 1936, that was it. Amy had been wrong; Sharleen was on the nineteenth storey. Not that it made any difference, height wise, but still.

I guess I'm just going to have to go through with it, Amy thought, reaching out to press the elevator button. I can always duck out early. Pretend I'm sick. Yeah, that's it...

She knocked on the door. It swung open. "Hi--"

"Hi!" announced the person behind the door, an entirely unfamiliar person. "Come on in!"

Amy stepped inside, a little worried. "Am I late?"

"Not at all!" the person said, enthusiastically. "Make yourself at home. Want something to drink?"

"No, I'm fine," Amy replied, as the person disappeared with her coat. She looked around, but couldn't see Sharleen, or indeed, anyone else from work. But this was the right number, and obviously a party, and--"

"Hi!" someone else announced. It was a tall red-haired man, who looked slightly familiar. She might have seen him at work. "I'm Andy--and you are....?"

"Amy," she replied, shaking his hand. It was hard to hear him, the music was so loud. "Uh... have you see Sharleen anywhere?"

"Sharleen?" Andy repeated, looking puzzled. "I might have, I'm not too good with names."

"Oh." Amy nodded. This was another person who Sharleen had cornered in the office, without caring whether she actually knew them, or not. "I see."

"Do you want something to drink?" Andy asked. "I know we're just supposed to help ourselves, but I was going to get something for me, anyway..."

"I don't drink," Amy admitted. This was usually a conversation killer.

"I can get you a fruit juice," he suggested easily. "It's no problem."

"Um, sure," she agreed, finally. "Yes, that would be nice, thank you."

The evening had started off strange, but it got better. Andy was very funny and quite interesting; he admitted to not liking crowds much either, so the two of them stayed to the sides, talking. He tried to convince her to step onto the balcony to admire the view, and in a moment of daring, she agreed. She remained very close to the door, however, and didn't move more than a foot or two away from the wall, but had to agree that the view was, indeed, very nice.

She and Andy ended up exchanging numbers, and decided to meet for coffee in a few days. All in all, she had a great time. But one thing that kept bothering her was the fact that she never did find Sharleen. The apartment was always packed, and the music made conversation with anyone in the main room difficult, so Amy just had to assume that she and Sharleen kept missing each other.

That Monday, Amy strolled into work, feeling quite happy and light on her feet. She'd had a marvellous Saturday night, much, much better than she thought she would it be. She'd see Sharleen today, and thank her for inviting her.

"Oh! Amy!" Sharleen found here first. "There you are! I was looking for you, all Saturday!"

"I know, so was I," Amy replied, with a smile. "I just wanted to say--"

Sharleen continued, looking hurt. "I mean, you could have called to say that you weren't coming, or something."

Amy stopped, puzzled. "But I did come."

"What are you talking about?" Sharleen snapped, her perky facade starting to slip. "I can account for every person there, all ten of them and--what's the matter? Why are you looking at me like that?"

Amy had gone pale white. "All ten? But... your apartment was packed!"

"Ten," Sharleen repeated, confused. "I only invited a handful--"

"Sharleen," Amy interrupted, finding her voice again, "what number is your apartment?"

"2010," Sharleen repeated. "Apartment 2010, 1936 King Avenue."

Amy brought into an embarrassed grin. "1936 King Avenue."

Sharleen nodded.

Amy started to giggle. "Sharleen, I've got a bit of an amusing story to tell you..."