Dalton had gotten up early and left for the train as normal, and also as normal, Megan had woken long enough to receive a kiss in farewell and dropped back to sleep. She was lost in dreams when a noise cut in. She tried to incorporate the sound into her dreams at first, but it wasn't long before she slowly came to the morning of her bedroom, the sun just starting to show through a chink in the curtains, and the phone beside the bed ringing incessantly. Struggling to sit upright she settled for a half rise, her abdominal muscles protesting, just long enough to snag the phone from its cradle. She sunk gratefully back into the covers as she brought it to her ear, "H'lo?" she murmured, her voice still thick with sleep.
"Oh, hello. Is that Mrs Richmond?" said an officious female voice on the other end.
Megan frowned, thinking that it was a solicitation, before checking the clock. The green led glowed 6:14 at her impassively, and she gave a start. Certainly not a sales person then - but who on earth could be ringing at this hour? The uncomfortable thought occurred to her that the only calls that came in the wee hours were harbingers of bad news. She pushed the thought aside, but not before instinctively wrapping an arm around her belly. She pushed herself up slightly in the bed and cleared her throat before answering, "Yes, that's me."
"Mrs Richmond, sorry for the early hour, but you're marked down as the next of kin for Mister Walter Spinner?" The statement had the upward inflection of a question, as though the speaker was uncertain of the accuracy of her information, and Megan frowned. As far as she was aware, her great uncle wasn't aware of her existence before yesterday and, if he was, he would not have known her by her married name.
"Umm," she hesitated, "I guess I must be. May I ask who this is, please?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, Mrs Richmond. This is Leona Fardenson, I'm the duty nurse on the general ward at the hospital where your ..." there was a pause and Megan heard a rustle of paper as the nurse flicked through records, "Where your great uncle was being looked after."
Megan was still caught up in the fact that she had been named her great uncle's next of kin, and missed the nurse's use of the past tense. She couldn't figure how the hospital had her details, she hadn't given them, so Walter must have. In which case, he must have acted quickly, she thought wryly.
"Oh. Okay. I wasn't aware that you had my details." Megan said and then added, "and please call me Megan."
"Thank you Megan. Mister Spinner apparently provided your information to us late yesterday afternoon." The nurse paused slightly and gave a small cough, as though she were waiting for a response from Megan. Megan still slightly sleep-addled and having not immediately realised the purpose of the call, said cagily, "Was there something else?"
"Yes, Mrs Richmond," the nurse said gravely, lapsing back to the formal name, and instantly Megan realised the purpose of the call. Her hand flew to her mouth as she heard the voice on the other end of the phone say, "I'm sorry to have to inform you that your great uncle passed away in the early hours of this morning."
Dalton was standing on top of a building, legs astride the peak of the roof, using a rivet gun to affix sheets of corrugated colorbond to the frame. The sun was starting to get warm on his back now and, while it was pleasurable for the moment, especially after the days of rain, he knew it would get unbearable before too long and it gave him an incentive to get this job done as soon as possible so he could get down into the shade. He was concentrating on getting the second last sheet down when he felt a tickling on his leg. He stamped his foot, thinking absently that it was a fly or other insect, and popped another rivet. The tickle came again, in the same spot and he switched the gun to the other hand to whack his leg and dislodge the bug. Instead of a bug however, the slap drove his mobile phone painfully into his thigh, and he realised what it was that was irritating him. His mouth set in a frustrated line at the interruption he fished the phone from his pocket and straightened up on the roof. He pressed the button to answer the call and snapped "Dalton Richmond", his eyes taking in the view over the city distractedly as he heard his wife's voice on the other end of the line. He listened impatiently as she told him about the phone call she had just received. He frowned a little, unsurprised that Walter was dead - he hadn't looked on his death bed yesterday, exactly, but he certainly hadn't been well, he thought.
"Listen, Meg, was that all? Can I call you back in ten?" he said abruptly.
There was a pause on the line and Dalton wondered if he'd upset her, before she said, "No, that's ok. Sorry, I didn't realise you were busy, honey. Call me back on the mobile ok?"
Dalton agreed to do so, and put the phone back into his pocket. He continued with the riveting, thinking over the phone call, and decided that he might have been a bit harsh. He would make a point to apologise to her when he called her back, he thought.
It was close to half an hour later that Dalton finally finished on the roof and climbed down into the shade he had created for himself. He stopped and discussed some plans with one of his work mates for a few minutes and suddenly remembered his promise to call Megan back in ten minutes. He pulled the phone from his pocket again and found a place to sit under the new roof, dialling the number of the house phone from memory. It rang and rang, eventually being picked up by his wife's recorded voice on the answering machine. He frowned and hung up without leaving a message, and then remembered Megan's peculiar instruction to call her on the mobile. He looked this number up in the memory of his phone and dialled, suddenly wondering what she was up to, leaving the house before seven in the morning. This number rang out too - there was no voicemail, just an abrupt click and the sound of a dead line in his ear - and he thought that she had either left the phone at home, or she couldn't hear it in her handbag. Thinking to give her a second chance if the latter was the case, he hit redial and tried again, listening to the empty ringing at the other end. He was just about to give up when he heard Megan's voice, low and breathless, "Tony!" she gasped, "Get to the hospital! The private one, I mean. We're having a baby!"
Dalton had stood when Megan had answered, her frazzled voice sparking instant concern, and now a grin split his face as he realised the cause. He spared seconds to let the foreman know that he'd gone and sprinted to the station, heading home to get the car.