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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Conversation (face to face) (10/07/10)

TITLE: Lonely In A Crowded Room
By Marlene Bonney


“Thrummmmmmmmmmm,” the slim-line cell phone vibrated on the table, causing the tokens to jiggle on the game board in response. Trevor quickly grabbed his best friend, Digital Dennis, to retrieve the latest text message from one of his numerous contacts. The rest of the family continued taking their respective turns, throwing the dice & moving their pieces to the corresponding spaces, all the while chatting and joking. Trevor, oblivious to the conversations floating around him, was thumbing his miniscule keyboard message.

“Hey, Trev! Your turn, bud!”

“What? Oh. Just a second,” pushing the ‘SEND’ button on his lap-held phone before throwing the dice.

“So, Trevor, what do you think about our plan? Can you come, too?”

“Uh—come where?”

Rolling her eyes, Trevor’s mother explained the vacation schedule.

The “Hallelujah Chorus” blared from Marcy’s purse, signaling a phone call from her husband, which interrupted the game for ten minutes while she patiently explained how to microwave a frozen pizza. Meanwhile, the rest of the family had been discussing an upcoming family reunion menu. Marcy had to be updated and informed of the details as she eventually tossed the dice for her turn.

“Ha-ha! You missed it! I passed you,” taunted cousin Louisa, “too bad you weren’t paying attention.”

Intense negotiations interspersed with indignant exclamations filled the room, this stage of the game now claiming everyone’s minds.

Until the fax machine beeps superseded all else then, as Philip, a congressional candidate, raced to read the latest poll stats coming in, followed by sending an urgent text message to his constituents from his belt-clipped cell phone. Accustomed to this kind of enforced break from the “here and now”, the other game players stood up to stretch and get snacks.

“Aunt Judy, is it alright if I borrow your computer to check my email?”

“Hey, George, they’re showing the football game re-cap on the sports channel—come, see,” Burt tossing the remote control to his uncle, "while we’re at it, pull up the other three games on the screen, will you?”

“Mom, Danny won’t let me use the Wii unit and I want to play tennis,” Cloe yelled from the lower recesses in the Rec Room.

“I’m in the middle of Demolition Derby with the PlayStation—she’ll just have to wait until I bomb!”

And I, patriarch of this brood, wander from room to room with a large placard around my neck, “S S S—Seeking Speaking Stimulation”. The game lays deserted on the dining room table with no one in sight. The den has three lazy-boyed dozing brothers and a loudly snoring son-in-law reposing in front of the television screen, four sports games playing for nobody to see. The family room occupants are all intense on different activities: One is surfing the Internet on the computer; two opponents are playing a PlaySation game; and three sisters are sitting side by side on the couch sectionals, one with a BlueTooth in her ear while she is speaking into her compact phone, another one is receiving and transmitting text messages to her friends as the third is swaying with closed eyes as she holds her radio connected to the budded speakers in her ears. And I wonder if the electricity goes out and the batteries die and the I-pods and cellular devices bite the dust, if we will remember how to communicate verbally with each other.

I retreat with slumped shoulders to the back patio where ‘Ol Jack resides. His head is laying between his stretched-out paws as he slumbers, but he awakens at my approach and excitedly rises up to greet me, jumping animatedly against my chest with his tail wagging wildly.

“Well, I guess it’s just you and me, kid . . . So, what do you think of the current political situation?”


“Yeah, me, too. You’d think our country would have learned common sense from the past, wouldn’t you?”


“My sentiments exactly. Hey, remember that trip we took to Mackinac Island? You shook hands with Governor Nickels. What a sight that was! I thought Mother was going to faint when she saw your muddy paw prints on his white blazer!


“Oh, that’s alright, buddy, it wasn’t your fault. You were just being friendly the only way you knew how, weren't you?,” I scratch behind his ears.

“Roof! Roof!”

“Yeah, I agree—those were the days.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/21/10
You've presented an excellent picture of our modern technological world and the way it has changed good old fashioned conversation. I especially liked the conversation at the end. The patriarch had a great listener, but he wasn't much of a conversationalist.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/24/10
I love the title and so get how the MC feels. You did a great job of showing what is happening to many families today.
Karen Elengikal10/25/10
LOL! You pretty much captured what happens in my home! Well done! :)
Carol Penhorwood 10/26/10
Tragically true in many homes. I believe we're going to have to remember "balance" if we're to survive in our relationships in this technical world.