This is the Best Way to Give the Worst News (a writing prompt)

First: Deny the news in the first place. You never heard it, you never saw it. Fingers in ears – blah, blah, blah.

Second: Take a deep breath. Inhale, exhale. Inhale again. Okay, you heard it. Now, time to give it away, pass it quickly like a hot potato.

Third: Pick up the phone, misdial the number to the person you are giving this news. Hang up. Do it again, but dial correctly this time. Listen to your heart pound as the phone rings. And rings.

Fourth: When the person picks up, say “hi!” too eagerly. Come off smooth and firm, a beacon of happiness.

Fifth: Answer when they say “hello?” repeatedly. Just say something, anything. C’mon. Go.

Sixth: Let the news tumble out in a cascade of words. Say them without punctuation. Let them spill out in a jumbled mess without meaning. They are just words, after all.

Seventh: Brave the silence that envelopes the line. Just power through it – don’t fill it or repeat yourself. Stay in the sacred space. You are not the news – only the messenger.

Eighth: Pull the phone away from your ear and let the air absorb the screaming/crying/silence.

Ninth – Don’t give platitudes – nothing you can say will make any of this go away. It is a part of life and you are just one link in one chain of news of the worst kind.

Tenth: Hang up gently – do not slam the phone or let your big chin cut you off by mistake. Exhale. Exhale. Wipe the tear. Inhale. Repeat as necessary.