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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Communication Breakdown (12/16/10)

TITLE: Selective Hearing


Susan went over her flight itinerary with her husband, Greg. “I’ll be in Russia the day after tomorrow and meet up with my aunt at the Vertinsky Restaurant in Kropotkinskaya. She’ll give me a run down on the Metro and…”

“Be careful, Susan. You know how the Russians will feed you until you are incapable of moving.”

“Just as long as the restaurants are smoke free.”

“You do know that smoking is a national sport in Russia?” Greg chuckled.

Susan ignored his remark and returned to her travel plans. “Next Wednesday I’ll visit the Kremlin, the State Tretyakov Gallery, and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. I think that will be enough for one day. I’ll call you around 3pm—that’s 6am here.”

“I’m glad I’m not going,” Greg snorted. “I hate galleries and museums.”

“I’ll leave for St. Petersburg at the end of the week to meet up with Viktoriya.” Her voice trailed off for a moment. “Oh, the Hermitage Museum looks good.”

Greg sighed louder than necessary. “Where did you say you met Viktoriya?”

“Art School. She came over on a student visa for her final year of study.” She looked up. “Greg, are you sure this is okay with you?”

“Huh, oh yeah. Sure thing, Susan.” I’ll be fine. The boys and I will leave for the lake after your call on Tuesday.”


He tossed a brochure onto the table, closed his eyes and yawned.

Susan continued with the details, including other days she would call him, and the particulars of her return flight.

Two weeks later:

Susan yawned as if on cue. The late night flight touched down and taxied down the runway. She was eager to see Greg and go home for a shower and a long sleep. It’s strange that he wasn’t home on any of the days I said I would call. I hope his fishing trip went well. “I miss you, Greg,” she whispered. She smiled thinking about how much fun he would have had with the boys. A few weeks with other males will be good for him. He probably couldn’t wait for me to leave. Her smile lingered through her fatigue and stepped from the plane walked hurriedly along the air-bridge. The passengers moved on mass toward the baggage collection, then on to Customs. Turning her cell phone on, Susan checked for messages and missed calls Nothing. The phone beeped and died. That’s all I need.

Two hours later Susan stepped into the cool night air. She stopped by a pillar and took a deep breath. “Where is he?” She checked her watch. After casting her eyes over the people waiting, she sat despondently on the bench closest to the exit. A tingle of panic crept up her spine. I hope he’s okay.


“Are you alright, Miss?”

Susan’s heart missed a beat. She looked up to see a security guard standing beside her. “Yes, thank you. I think my husband must have been held up—or something.”

“Perhaps I should call for a taxi. The last plane arrived hours ago.

Everyone’s left. It’s not safe around here in the middle of the night.”

Again Susan looked at her watch. “A taxi would be good. Thanks.” She forced a nervous smile and listened while the guard spoke into his cell phone.


With mixed emotions, Susan turned the key in the door and let herself in. The lights were on, but there was no sound. “Greg, are you here?”

“Susan!” Greg rushed through the living room door, almost bumping into his wife. “Where have you been?”

“Where have I been? You were supposed to pick me up from the airport over two hours ago.”


“No buts, Greg. Why didn’t you come and get me and why weren’t you here for my calls?”


Susan dropped her bag in the front room. Tears burned her eyes. What she saw in Greg’s eyes was not surprise or guilt, but fear. She forced herself to calm. “What is it, Greg?”

“I forgot when you were going to call, and…and you didn’t give me your arrival date and time. I...I was afraid for you.”

“Greg, I went through the itinerary with you before I left. What happened to the copy I left on the coffee table?”

They stared at each other, and then at the coffee table. There laid the brochures and the copy of the itinerary—where Susan had left it.

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This article has been read 369 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Arlene Showalter12/26/10
I'm howling...I'm howling. And probably every other woman out there who's been married more than 6 weeks! This is not si-fi or fantasy. Single ladies...beware...this is reality! Still howling! Hee hee, hee hee!!
Michael Throne12/26/10
I enjoyed this story and, unfortunately, can personally relate.

This was well written, but perhaps if the husband was slightly more real (less of a straw man), it might have worked even better.

Or maybe I'm just mad that you nailed me.

Good story!
Lyn Churchyard12/26/10
LOL I hope this wasn't written from personal experience. I wanted to slap Greg right from the very start. LALA LALA LALA LALA, I'm not really listening. Perhaps some roses, chocolates and a few nice dinners might be in order :-)
Cheryl Harrison12/27/10
Okay - this one got to me. I almost got mad at my husband and he didn't even do anything! :o)
Edmond Ng 12/28/10
Nicely written and an exciting read! I know the feeling of having my heart missing a beat or two, and the agony of not knowing how my spouse is doing in my absence, especially with delayed arrivals for appointments. You’ve described the feelings so well in your story.
Colin Swann12/29/10
Women SO organised for away from home times. No wonder men switch off or conveniently forget. Really enjoyed this fun write.
Gregory Kane12/29/10
Don't be so hard on my namesake. Why didn't she leave it somewhere more obvious - like stuck to the fridge?! Men, what can you do with them?
Sara Harricharan 12/29/10
Ah, that old selective hearing bit. Poor Greg. I was hoping something bad hadn't happened to him, I'm glad he's fine and she's fine. Hopefully they can work that out next time.
Norma-Anne Hough01/02/11
truly enjoyed the read. Excellent dialogue and I am afraid so very typical.
I loved your characters and found them to be completely believable.
Good write.
Love Norms