It Wasn’t The Cell Phone, It Was Me (Short fiction)

imagesCANXP22SI have wanted to talk to Annabelle for quite some time. We have had dinner, movies, and an afternoon at the park. We seem to be enjoying one another. I know her job is important and she has many friends, but really; the constant interruptions by text messages and phone calls leaves little time to end what we have started talking about or for that fact start. I can’t tell you how many amusing stories I told her and never have been able to get to the amusing part. When she returns to the conversation it is as if nothing was said prior.

The other day we met for coffee. I was not going to insist she put her cell phone away, but I was determined to stay on the subject.

Well we had a formal greeting, ordered our coffee, and sat on the side walk accommodations at our favorite place.

I smiled politely.

“Excuse me,” she smiled. “I must return this.”

She thumbed a return text.

“I wanted us to talk about…”

Her cell phone rang. “It’s a client.” She spoke and laughed for a moment.

“There is something important we…”

The phone rang again. “It’s my partner. I’ve got to take this. We’re about to close a contract.”

She finished speaking and laid the phone on the table. She smiled and sipped her coffee. “Yes.”

“You seem to enjoy my…”

Another text came in.

“My mother, she just started texting,” Annabelle said. “If I don’t return it she’ll be crushed.”

I smiled.

She stashed the phone in her purse.

I smiled. “Relationships are funny things…”

There was another ring. She fished the phone from her purse. “Oh, an old friend. Let me get this.”

I smiled and whispered. “Be back in a minute.”

I walked around the corner out of Annabelle’s sight and dialed her phone.

“Hello,” she said.

“This is Jonathan. I wonder if we could speak for just a moment?”

“Actually, Jonathan,” Annabelle said. “I’m with somebody right now, can we talk later?”

“Sure, we’ll talk later,” I said. “Bye.”

I walked back to our table and sat down. “Who was that?” I said.

“An annoying young man who has been trying to get my attention,” Annabelle said. “Now where were we. You were about to say something important.”

“Ah, it seems I forgot,” I said.

“You know,” Annabelle said. “I really don’t like it when people start to say something and then it’s ‘oh, never mind.’”

“That’s right,” I said. “That’s what I wanted to say, ‘Maybe we are not so compatible. Perhaps it‘s time we not see each other, move on.”

She smiled to cover the surprise. “Well aren’t we something. As soon as you leave I’ll call the man who just called me and I’ll have a date just like that.”

“Don’t count on it,” I said and left.

Making my way to the corner I turned and looked back. She punched out a number on her phone. My phone vibrated. Wow, she had no idea who I was.



  1. I love your fiction; it’s fresh and exciting. Good writers make great dialog. “Feed us words,” -someone said. Emotional distance is the killer of relationships, as your writing well captures.

    • Short stories allow you to fill in the details. I think the reader can become more engaged. I don’t need to know what kind of cell phone it is. I’ve seen enough to know what one looks like.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Great story! I have so many friends like this. I will only answer my phone when I’m out with someone if it’s a number I don’t recognize or if it’s my sitter. Otherwise. Rude.

  3. Awesome. Thanks for this!

    I have to say I’m pretty much a dinosaur when it comes to gadgets. Not because I wouldn’t want them, but because I can’t afford them.
    It IS kind of nice to be ‘un-reachable’ sometimes though.

    I really hate when someone assumes I have some sort of Caller-ID and doesn’t leave a phone number to return the call. Well…at least they’re leaving a message…most people don’t even do that.

  4. I loved the story, in particular the conclusion that Annabelle did not know who he was! What a good ending!
    Still, I am known for always finding something to moan about:
    It could be a tiny bit shorter.
    This paragraph appears kind of doubling:
    ” I know her job is important and she has many friends, but really; the constant interruptions by text messages and phone calls leaves little time to end what we have started talking about or for that fact start. I can’t tell you how many amusing stories I told her and never have been able to get to the amusing part. When she returns to the conversation it is as if nothing was said prior.”
    This is just like in Teletubby-land – off-voice says, they make toast, then they do make toast.
    Here you say, conversations are constantly interrupted (off-voice, telling) and after the quoted paragraph the next paragraph shows that. No need to say it before. Your readers are not aged 2 or 3 years. Just show straightaway. Show, don’t tell, I learned in my courses. But that may be yesterday’s style …

    This comment does not mean I do not like your story. I do! It does not even mean I would not read more from you – just in this case a little bit less would be welcomed a little bit more by me.
    I sound as if I recited a law, but no, I just express my personal point of view.
    Others might think different. Please do not feel offended, when I do not praise only. It is not about you, it is about the story. And as much as I like the story (have been on the receiving end of this kind of impoliteness) – without the mentioned paragraph it would still work out fine.

    • Thanks, such comment help me to sharpen my writing.
      My intent was to add a layer of frustration. Certainly another way would have been to do it as a part of their conversation, but I choose not to do so in order to make the conversation meaningless as possible.
      You have a good ear and eye to pick that out.
      Thanks and certainly not offended.

      • I think his frustration is pretty obvious throughout the conversation already. If you want to add something there you could write his thoughts out a little more clearly. Remarks like – Again! – or more sarcastically – Hello Missy, I’m right here! – or him weaving his hand, slightly – something like that would show his feelings pretty well.

  5. Hilarious, but oh so true. People have forgotten what a real relationship means. Real communication has been replaced with gadgets that have to be plugged in. When did a key stroke become more important than the human touch?

  6. I hate this kind of behavior also, it’s demeaning to be constantly back-burnered by someone with something more important to do. Do you suppose that was the strategy of the woman in the story to make herself seem important, precious and hard-to-get? Was she rude or insecure or just unable to focus? I definitely think he made the right decision. Great way to illustrate a problem with our society that manners are not addressing. Entertaining and well-written, too.

  7. Very truthful and poignant. The little catch at the end killed me! I’m starting to believe that with the rise of cellphones, there definitely needs to be some kind of etiquette. It can be really annoying when I’m working behind the cash register and I’m ready to ring someone up, they approach and then answer their phone or text. Can’t you wait just a minute!? But we gotta stay connected…

    • I’m glad you saw how painful it was also. You are the first one to catch that or express it. I wanted to show it without saying it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  8. I couldn’t help but wonder how Jonathan could impress upon Annabelle that she had just been dumped–send a text maybe? Then, again–she may not know who he is the second time around either. Nice write.


  9. fiction as much as it is, i feel am a phone addict too. I thank my friends for sticking to me still. this is a learning 😉
    self-realisation post, congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  10. very well done! i suppose im one the few who doesn’t see the humor as much as i see the reality which makes it so sad. i suppose maybe it’s because im old fashioned and i get so tired of people NOT having any kind of phone etiquette and it drives me batty lol. anyway, very well written and a perfect illustration of what’s happening in the here and now, very relevant. congrats on freshly pressed. 🙂

  11. Wow. Very good!! And funny but sadly I’m pretty sure there are many people who can relate in some way or another in this cell phone, smartphone world we live in;). Thanks for the good read.

  12. This is a great story…unfortunately, it made me think of all the times I’m glued to my phone when I’m out with my boyfriend. I’ll reconsider replying to that text next time.

      • Yes of course. But it’s polite to ask for permission. I like to have consent first. Anyway, I love your blog posts. Very inspiring.

  13. Perfect. Absolutely bloody perfect. I swear to god my generation in particular ALWAYS have their **** phones out, and the irony you struck upon was something that’d never really occurred to me in that way before – if the roles were reversed and you were the person on the other side of the phone and some other chump was face to face with this serial phonogamist (coining it), they’d get paid zero attention as well.
    To misquote Jay-Z, **** phones, they can kiss my…

  14. I notice at a gathering of friends, many of them are checking out their cell phone for texts or whatever. Unless, it’s VERY important, the cell phone should NOT be included in any social gathering. It makes it seem that the conversation is boring, therefore the people are also boring, and they are just there from obligation.

    Annabelle personifies this observation! Disconnected! Great story!

  15. Excellent writing! Had me captivated from word 1..And dig the topic! Funny how folks who do this; never seem to realize or give a crap! annoying it is. As IF they’re that important..its just plain rude. One of my rules? When I’m spending time with someone, even if its a week day quick lunch, I don’t even whip my cell out. Just leave it in my purse..why? Because I’m a text queen & known for carrying on several text chats at one time. For hours & hours this can go on…Being emotionally unavailable is a major turn off; VERY. 2 thumbs UP on your write . I like..

      • Exactly…And its important to maintain & keep our social skills in tact..Truth IS some folks, especially the last generation behind me, aren’t all being taught good social manners. Or least this is the way I see IT..Think about it; this is all about quick & virtual, and social media interactions..What about actually dealing with a REAL life voice to voice conversation???! Some folks don’t have a clue..enough to realize texting-while-at-the-dinner-table is RUDE..goes right along with talking with food in your mouth , right? And the more rudeness WE accept or DO..the more it becomes the “norm” ..

  16. LOVE THIS! It’s hard to imagine someone acting this way but it’s all around us! I remember hearing someone say once, “texting and checking your phone is not a habit…it’s a compulsive behavior.” C’mon people…take a minute and don’t forget to smell the roses!

  17. Superb I am sure every one has the same experience with not only the girl friend but with everyone in the family. It is time to put the cells on silent mode forever. We should be in command not this darned tiny robot.

  18. I happened to stumble upon this and I must tell you that I love it. I look forward to reading more of your work.

Blather away, if you like.

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