There was no answer.
There never was.
Pete shook his head and hung up the phone. He still wasn’t sure where it had come from. It had just appeared there in the jungle one morning, and he had felt compelled to dial his mother.
“She didn’t answer?” Craig Tallison watched his friend with concerned eyes.
“No,” Pete said. “She never does.”
His leg was hurting again. Maybe that shell had done more damage than he thought.
“Well, all you can do is keep trying,” Craig said, walking across the muddy carpet of foliage and picking up the phone with one hand. Pete noticed the lower half of Craig’s other arm was missing. “I’m going to call Freda,” Craig said.
Pete nodded, and his buddy’s missing appendage made him aware of the watch on his own left wrist. He held it up to the hazy patch of sun that hovered over the tree tops.
It was 3:15 in the afternoon.
Pete smiled and snapped his fingers.
“I think I solved the mystery!”
“What mystery?” Craig said, hanging up the phone. Freda wasn’t home.
“Well, we always call home around this time of day, and it’s the middle of the night back in Indiana. I’ll bet that’s why Mom never answers.”
Craig smiled, too, feeling better. “That must be it!”
“Pete? Are you there, Pete? Is that you?”
There was only static on the other end of the line. Mary listened for a few seconds more, then hung up the phone.
“Is it 3:15?” Jerry rolled over in the bed and touched his wife’s hand.
“Just like when he was little?”
“Yes, just like when he was little.”
“Growing pains, right?”
“Growing pains. His leg always hurt him at 3:15 in the morning.”
She touched the dog tags around her neck. It was 3:15.