Message

So this is a piece of flash fiction; a story told in 500 words, or less.

She’s on the couch, analysing. Thankfully, her daughter Rebecca’s in bed. It has been a nice night. He was polite and nervous as always. Her sisters will be all questions. They crave Dave details. He’s like an alien to them. And ‘dating’s’ another planet. She wasn’t sure she could call it that. ‘We’re just friends. And Rebecca doesn’t know,’ she’ll remind them. He was gorgeous though, she’d told them that. ‘You’re dead right to be meeting fellas again’ Joan said. Then apologised for ‘dead.’

She picks up the phone.

Her digit finger’s over the keypad, waiting for her brain, as if she’s trying to think of a code and the wrong answer could end in Nuclear Disaster. Her finger hops deliberately over the buttons.

Nite X

She presses Send. Puts the phone on the coffee table. The ‘sending’ arrow’s pointing to the bottle of wine. Cancel option on the bottom right. Still time to change her mind. Then it’s gone. She stands up. Feels bold. And unsteady. It’s out there. How does it work? Two syllables flung into the air, to be caught by an invisible net cast by his phone? A fine catch! Across the city his phone’s lighting up. Buzzing, as Rebecca says. He’s usually quick to respond.

What now? Switch the phone off and go to bed! She laughs at herself. The idea came to her as if it was the height of dangerous living. She couldn’t sleep until she knew.

She looks again at the phone on the coffee table. Wonders if it makes relationships any easier. Eugene and her never texted. She imagines a text from Eugene.

Have to stay back at work.

Her late husband!

She goes into the kitchen. She feels grateful for the dishes slanting in the sink. She starts washing them. Nothing wrong with it. That one little letter expressing what she wanted to do earlier but couldn’t. Telling him she’s ready. It has been long enough. She leaves the dishes on the draining board, opens the fridge.

The phone has shaped itself into an uneasy presence. Maybe he isn’t ready. ‘Did I? Sorry. Force of habit. I put in a little kiss when I’m texting my daughter.’ 

‘Very good,’ she says to Rebecca’s lunch and other fridge contents. She closes the door. She fills a glass with water and goes back into the sitting room and looks at the phone as if looking life itself in the eye. The thing is still dormant.

In the bathroom she prepares for bed. Wine stains on her teeth and lips. She shakes her head. Half-drunk on a school night. Acting like a school girl.

Her toothbrush landing in the glass reports a hollow din. She hears the phone burp. She clutches a towel en-route to the sitting room. Her feet hurrying.

The glow of the screen. The envelope sitting above his name like an unopened present. Open text. Reads. Joy fizzes through her body.

Then, the guilt sets in.

nocktoebenaughto

For another piece of Flash Fiction Half-Pint

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