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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cyber Communication (email, IM’s, etc) (11/04/10)

TITLE: Then Again, Maybe I Won't
By Terri Schroeder


Millie eagerly looked out the window as her daughter, Merilee’s car pulled into the driveway. Paige, Millie’s granddaughter, was sitting in the passenger seat. They both had cell phones pressed to their ears.

Merilee and Paige were “coming over to visit” to “keep company” and "have some quality time together”, as Merilee had put it.

Millie prepared a nice luncheon with hopes of an enjoyable time together. Ever since her husband’s unexpected passing six months ago, Millie spent most of her time alone. For a few weeks after the funeral, she received lots of cards--even a few phone calls--but they soon stopped, and Millie found herself alone with no one to talk to. Everyone had moved on, each person had their own life to live; and Millie was alone in her grief.

John and Millie had been married for almost forty years, and every year had been wonderful. The Lord had provided Millie with a perfect husband--they were truly soul mates.

John was set to retire in January, and they had purchased tickets for a Caribbean cruise. It was something they had looked forward to for a long time. For five years--every payday--they put money aside to finance this post-retirement vacation. A vacation they would never take together….

One minute, John was sitting in his favorite chair watching the Wheel of Fortune--the next minute, he was gone. Millie had hobbled into the kitchen to get a cup of tea; when she returned, John was slumped over. Millie called the paramedics, but it was too late. John had suffered a massive heart attack. His dear, departed soul had gone instantly. Now Millie’s heart ached in loneliness.

Ever since John’s passing, Millie had craved a good conversation. She needed a confidante to express her innermost thoughts--but there never seemed to be a convenient time…too many interruptions. Today, Millie planned to tell Merilee what the doctor had said…. her prognosis. And she planned to invite Merilee and Paige to accompany her on a trip to the Caribbean--one last trip….

Merilee was ending her phone conversation as Millie reached out to greet her with a hug. “Gotta go, I’ll call you back,” Merilee said as she closed the phone and slipped it in her pocket. She planted a kiss on Millie’s cheek. A look of surprise came over her Merilee’s face. “Mother, you’ve lost so much weight--are you eating enough?”

“Well, I’ve--“

But before Millie could finish her sentence, Merilee’s phone chirped. Merilee held her finger up to shush Millie. “Text message--just be a minute.” Her agile fingers quickly punched the tiny keys, and she placed the phone in her pocket again. “Sorry, Mom--you were saying…?”

“Just that I--“

Merilee’s phone started singing, ‘Call me! Call me… call me… anytime. Call me!...’

“Gotta take this….it’ll only be a minute,” Merilee said as she wandered out of the room for privacy; the phone was stuck to the side of her head like an appendage.

Paige had already plunked herself down on the sofa; manicured fingers were punching keys on the purple gadget in her hands. After a rapid succession of punches, she’d pause for a few seconds and wait. Soon, the gadget would beep, signaling an incoming message. Paige would scan the message, punch the keys, pause, and wait for another beep. The sequence would repeat: Punch… pause…beep. Punch…pause…beep.

“Whatcha got there, Paige? I haven’t seen that before.”

“SmartPhone.” Paige didn’t look up, her fingers continued to rapidly punch the keys.

Millie chuckled playfully. “And how smart is it?”

Paige didn’t answer. Instead, her eyes furrowed as she continued to fervently punch away. Millie recognized the ‘I’m concentrating, don’t bother me’ expression,' and with a sigh she walked away--giving Paige her “space.”

Merilee returned to the living room. “Sorry, Mom--what were you saying?”

“Humph, I forgot--guess it wasn’t important.”

Minutes passed in silence. Then Millie said, “Oh, I remember now; I was going to… ”

Buzzzzz. Merilee’s phone was summoning her again. “Sorry, Mom, it’s an email...”

The next two hours passed in the same way. Millie never did get to tell Merilee what the doctor said or invite them on the cruise. In fact, they hardly spoke at all.

“I guess I’ll have to get a Smart Phone and send Merilee and Paige a message,” Millie said aloud to herself as they drove away. “Then again, maybe I won’t.”

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This article has been read 461 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Murray11/13/10
Mmmmmm. Terrifying account of todays communications, but all too real. First sentence needs grammatical corrction, perhaps just leave out the comma. otherwise well done.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/13/10
This is so sad it breaks my heart. It does remind me to have another etiquette talk with my kids though. Hopefully they remember the rule that the cell phone gets ignored when you are visiting someone but a reminder is always good.
Rachel Phelps11/16/10
I've often seen kids who can't seem to tear their eyes off of a phone screen, so this rings true. Zinger last line.