For her to not call back surprised me. Enough that I kept speed-dialing her number, wondering why her voice mail kept answering without a ring. As a whole day passed, surprise turned to anxiety. Her outgoing message, “You know my phone is surgically attached to me,” is annoyingly accurate, so why would she so hard to reach?

Maybe her phone was broken. Maybe she’d turned it off in an attempt to slow down her usage – I’d flipped out when she exceeded our shared minutes, driven the cell phone bill from $150 to over $400. Two months in a row. She uses more minutes than the rest of the family combined. I can’t afford that, don’t want to pay for that sort of excess. The subject added to the friction already created by the extra animals, including a kitten I also can’t afford and didn’t want (but to whose cuteness I have fallen victim), during her recent visit. 

Now I couldn’t reach her and the harsh words exchanged haunted me. I don’t need her to check in all the time – she’s an adult, living on her own – but connecting has been easy in this world of cell phones and GoogleTalk. To have that suddenly disappear without explanation worried me.

Her MySpace revealed nothing. She’d made it private suddenly (something I bugged her about forever, but now that I was seeking information, frustrated me). Was she hiding something from me? Have some shocking news? She hadn’t made a call since Monday night, according to the Verizon website. 

Awful news stories flashed through my mind as I struggled to find a balance between assurance and panic. I remembered the time she wandered off after a cat when she was two. We’d been at a barbeque all day. I ducked into the bedroom to grab our things and in that minute, she disappeared. Despite an immediate scouring of the neighborhood, finding her took 10 minutes or so – 10 minutes that never felt so long. Ten minutes in which I could not breathe, thought my legs would buckle even as I raced down one street to another. 

Was I being paranoid? What’s worse, freaking out unnecessarily, then finding out everything is OK? Or assuming a reasonable explanation exists, only to lose all that time when the situation turns out to be an emergency? I did not call the police and ask for a welfare check. I did call her friend, who said she hadn’t heard from her, but thought she’d gone to a friend’s cabin outside of town, outside of cell coverage.

I did call the woman she’s staying with. Twice. A call back confirmed she’d gone to the cabin for two nights, don’t worry, she’s on her way back now, but forgot her charger, so her phone is dying – died while we were talking, in fact. 

She called herself later, from her friend’s phone. Yes, she’s alive. Silly to worry so.