nine

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The constant ringing from Nicholas's phone woke him from his slumber. He put a pillow over his ears, attempting to muffle the annoying sound. For a small sliver of time, the ringing stopped. Nicholas sighed as silence filled the air once more. Finally, he thought.

He removed the pillow from his ears and snuggled closer into the warm haven of his bed, relishing in the peace and quiet. The occasional sounds of cars zipping past were heard, but Nicholas was a city boy, he was used to it. The busy city became a buzz in the background and his thoughts were once again drifting to a certain girl with a headscarf.

Ring Ring.

Nicholas swore under his breath, burying his head into his pillow to muffle his frustrated scream. He would not answer that phone, he would not. Whoever was calling would have to wait until morning because Nicholas was not a functioning adult this late at night. He refused to talk to anyone until he got his much needed rest.

The room went silent again, allowing Nicholas to relax his tense body. Darkness engulfed him, dragging him away from the cruel realities of life, and taking him to a new world where there was nothing that stopped his aspirations. For the first time, he was invincible against everything. A girl stood beside him in his fantasy, a girl who stayed on his mind all the time now. He smiled as he gazed into her dark brown eyes. Dina.

His phone rang, erasing all images of the perky Muslim girl, and bringing Nicholas back to the cold-hearted world he had found himself hating. More specifically, he hated his phone because at that moment, the small metallic device disturbed his peace.

"For Christ's sake, Nick. Answer your damn phone!" yelled Elijah from the other bedroom.

Sighing, Nicholas outstretched his arm to his bed. He fumbled over his glasses and pens before finally feeling the smooth surface of his phone. Latching his fingers around it, he brought the touchscreen device to his face. Nicholas's blue eyes squinted at the bright screen. His finger hovered over the green 'answer' button as he bit his lip, wondering if he should answer.

"Nick!" Elijah shouted. "If you don't answer that stupid phone, so help me God, I'm gonna break it along with you."

Nicholas pressed the button.

"Hey, honey," a soft voice greeted him.

"Mom."

"You didn't answer your phone. I called three times," she stated, her voice drifting off.

Nicholas squeezed his eyes shut. "Sorry," he said.

His mother sighed, "Nicholas."

"What?"

"Can you at least talk to me?" she snapped. "You don't answer any of my calls anymore, you refuse to leave a message or tell me how you're doing, you don't even visit me!"

Nicholas stayed silent, hearing her heavy breaths over the phone and her choked up voice, asking, begging, pleading him to respond. Deep in his heart, he knew her efforts were pointless.

"Nicholas," she whispered.

"I'm sorry, Mom."

He heard her quiet sobs over the phone, her voice faltering, her sniffles, and still Nicholas couldn't even find any remorse for his actions. He felt cold, unaffected by her tears, her falsehood. She never cared. He was the unwanted child that she wished was never born.

"Sorry, huh?" she bitterly, laughed. "You're always sorry, Nicholas. When do you ever take the time to show it? When do you ever pick up your phone to answer my calls? When, Nicholas? Tell me."

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