The Mysterious Call from the Orchids

Graphic by Bi Bi Hajira

It was just another day at the 911 emergency help service in the city. Random calls of theft, shoplifting, fire, and fraudulent activities were being attended by the officials devoted to working for the betterment of the citizens every day.
Though all of this seemed to be a very regular activity of sorts, it soon turned out that the day wasn’t as same as it seemed to be.

“Hello, it’s 911. How can we help?” Frank almost jumped on his chair.
“Help, I am stuck!”
The voice was cold and whoever it was was surely in a very grave situation.
“Can you please brief your whereabouts and situation?”, Frank asked.
“It is dark, damp, and quite small. I can barely move. Seems like I am trapped in a box.”
“Do you have any idea where you are? Meanwhile, we are trying to locate your phone.”
“No, I don’t know. It’s so dark in here. Please help me.”
“Emergency help is on its way. We will locate you soon…”
“The white lilies that grow in St. Augustine Church love their orchid companions.”

Beep beep…
And the call got disconnected. Though Frank tried getting back to it he couldn’t.
Perhaps some network error, he thought to himself.
She sounded so stressed, Frank thought, meanwhile stressing himself.

It was Frank’s first day at the 911 emergency services and he hadn’t expected such a call. Though he briefed everything to the related department they still had no lead. The number they traced showed no response and there was no location or landmark as such listed out by the stress caller, who sounded quite much in distress.
Even after multiple trials, they were unable to locate the caller’s phone who sounded to be a lady of young age.
The file was closed with the mention of technical issues and the lack of information as the reason for being unable to help.
The short call that didn’t even last a minute had already taken over the mind of Frank.
As it may seem obvious to everyone, he was heavily stressed. The guilt of not being able to help a lady in distress on the very first day of his work was constantly eating him up from inside. Standing in front, you could as well see that in his eyes.
His instructor calmed him down; things like this happened to many people in the service and were common even with those who had worked for years in the department. He also tried to calm him by saying it may as well be another of those prank calls.
Though all of this didn’t ease out the helper who now needed 911 help, Frank had his head lowered.

Hours passed and due to no lead, the case was virtually dropped. There was no location trace of the phone somehow and it seemed either it was a prank call done via one of those fake calling apps or magically the caller disappeared in thin air.
Whatever be the reason Frank couldn’t devote much of his attention to the call as another bunch came swarming. The 911 is always busy!
Frank got busy with another “My neighbour has bumped my car” calls and in no time he had almost forgotten the caller who has made him full of guilt for not being able to help in the morning.
Days passed and Frank had now almost no memory of the call that had occurred on his day one in the office. Things were going good and he felt he was of some use to the nation which obviously gave him a big smile.
His dream of serving the people was now coming true. He had helped save seven kids stuck in a fire, and an old lady who had fainted in her house recently.
The eyes of Frank displayed the happiness they contained in them.

But as we say often our past comes to haunt us.
One day the same happened with Frank. While on a trip driving across the outskirts of the city going on a vacation after a long tiresome month at the office, he noticed an old broken gate of St. Augustine Church. Even though he didn’t mean to, his eyes were forcefully dragged towards the graveyard of the old church whose walls looked as if the paint on them had withered some centuries ago.
The graveyard was ruled by grasses, lush and green, a crab apple tree, and a few squirrels which you could see jumping across the branches.
What Frank saw inside was something he couldn’t believe with his eyes. It took him a few minutes to take control of the situation he was in. He suddenly pulled the breaks of his car and came out.
He had to take a clear look to believe that what he was seeing wasn’t some kind of hallucination. The memories of the call that he had attended on the first day of his work as a 911 assistant came back flooding his mind.
Inside the boundaries of the church was a grave, made of white marble with a large cross erected on it, marked with some broken letters perhaps washed by the rain and wind…
Frank read the obituary with his jaws dropped. Suddenly all the dots got connected together. The obituary read :

“Lily White lies here
Away from the noise of the world
In the lap of Christ,
With the fragrance of the red orchids, she loved.”


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