36 comments

Funny

And here is the resting place of your great-grandfather, Salvador Earnest Forth. 

The renowned Sally Forth

Found dead in his cottage with an iPhone in his hand at the age of 96. 

Yes, I am aware you didn’t get to meet him while he was alive. He was an interesting man. Well, maybe less interesting and more mercurial. Well, maybe less mercurial and more of an arsehole.

I met him only twice. 

Your grandparents regaled us with legendary Sally-stories, probably more useful as cautionary tales. 

Sally Forth! He would call out on occasion. Sally Forth and get going! 

From a military family, he was forgiven for being the emotional embodiment of a “salle sortie” — as he habitually snuck out of a figurative sally port, quickly charmed those who dared to love him, then abruptly abandoned them. Capricious posturing was exactly what Sally Forth was known for. Or rather unknown. The man was an enigma. Rosebud and all that.

That was apparently Sally’s raison d'être; he just didn’t want the same people around for very long. Emotional entanglements, romantic or platonic, were just not your great-grandfather’s cup of tea. When pressed, he would simply Sally Forth! 

Yes, your great-grandpapa was a proverbial rolling stone. Wherever he laid his hat, indeed, was his home.

That was how Sally chose to live his entire life, like an 18th-century British soldier, flashing red, ready to seize any nation that needed his colonizing, any nubile lass who needed his philandering. And after his emotional looting and pillaging? Sally Forth to other fertile lands to conquer! 

That is why you have at least a half dozen great-grandmothers. That we know of.

Sally, being a remarkably tall, handsome young man, whole and fit after the war, initially used telegrams to sate his heart’s insatiable desires. Luxurious of him, as a 15-word telegram would cost 8 pounds sterling today. He could have wooed his conquests in a more economical fashion, but Sally allegedly felt the old-fashioned, terse nature of the telegram suited him best. After his death, we found stacks of his old telegram order forms from the mid-1940’s:

TO HELEN WANT DATE ON SATURDAY NIGHT STOP NO ANSWER MEANS YES STOP.

TO ETHEL YOU ARE THE SUN MOON STARS STOP SEE YOU SUNDAY FOR SPOONING POSSIBLE FORKING NO STOP.  

TO COLLEEN COMING TO SNOG IN A SCOTTISH BOG DON'T STOP WILL YOU PLAY MY BAGPIPES STOP. 

In another box we found more telegrams, coming from all the Helens and Ethels and Colleens, wondering where Sally had sallied forth to. After all his clever word play and jaunty banter and — what do you call it today? Love bombing. Odd how these women never seemed to blame Sally, but held a strange affection for the old bugger.

I know your particular great-grandmother did. 

Over the next twenty years or so, Sally would fall in love, sometimes twice a night, marry, divorce, and sometimes remarry the same woman. While working at the Ministry of Defense, Sally worked for the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) by day while making the acquaintance of most of the women in Worcestershire by night, both single or not. When the Queen sent her first email over the ARPANET in 1976, your great-grandfather was composing cheeky electronic messages for some bird he fancied. 

As a serial bachelor, Sally kept very few things. Mostly old technology, which grew more outdated as the days quickly passed. One of your great-uncles found a trove of Sally’s old floppy disks, compact discs, an old SD card, and even a flash drive in that attic of his. On every storage device were emails to various women in all stages of Sally’s seduction. 

To Carol: 

I noticed in the break room you might need to make room for a break. How about sneaking out for quick breakfast, fast?

To Jennifer:

Welcome to RSRE! I’m sure you are getting royal signals from many of the men here. Let’s just say you’ve been on my radar since you’ve started. How about lunch? 

To Karen:

I didn’t know Alison was your roommate. You know I’m not like that. I’m sure we can work things out over dinner. If not, tell Alison I’ll ring later. 


After Sally’s semi-retirement, the intimate-but-not-intimate nature of the computer age suited Sally to a T. Let’s just say Sally’s charm and the internet’s endless opportunities for shallow romances were a match made in heaven. He had one of the first (and only?) Friendster accounts. He had a space on Myspace. His Facebook page showed him water-skiing with Wendy at seventy, salsa dancing with Cecily at seventy-five, and enjoying English billiards at eighty — with Evelyn. He posted pictures of single cruises’ midnight buffets on Instagram. Captured pub crawling with his ancient mates on Snapchat. Danced to Saweetie’s “My Type” in a Tik Tok video that garnered more views than Boris Johnson. But that’s not a high bar.

It was easy to be Sally in the digital world, where instant intimacy and sallying forth was not only expected, but encouraged. He felt a man born for the times. 

I suppose the family thought Sally would settle down a bit once he fully retired, but someone thought it would be a good idea to get your great-grandfather an iPhone for his 83rd birthday. Sally had a fully completed member profile on Silver Singles before his birthday candles were all properly lit. Before the celebratory ice cream was dished, Sally was setting up his Tinder account.

“I know this one,” he paused, looking down at familiar brown eyes on the tiny screen.

“That’s mum,” Sally’s son reminded him.

“Ah, so she is,” he replied and swiped right. 


Tragic how they found Sally, alone in his cottage, iPhone in hand. Only after the newspapers piled up and the mail went uncollected for a few days did someone feel the need to contact the authorities for a wellness check. 

All was not well.

Death had finally come calling for your great-grandfather, sitting alone on the sofa, estranged from children and wives. At first the police officers believed Sally had been texting someone, but upon closer inspection of his iPhone, it appeared Sally had been blocking someone instead. Someone who made the mistake of trying to get too close, staying too long, falling for the charm of a charmer.

Your great-grandfather, with his long legacy of ghosting women for over seventy years, was now a ghost of his own. Upon his death, his legacy evanesced into the ether, his connections — ethereal at best — existing only in 1’s and 0’s on the Ethernet apart from a few dusty boxes easily binned. 


August 30, 2020 20:18

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36 comments

Tyler Runde
02:39 Aug 31, 2020

Hey Deidra, Another well-written story with plenty of energy and clever word-play. I especially the repetition of "Sally Forth" in its many forms. The tonal shift of the ending did feel a bit abrupt to me. That might just be me, I can't be sure that anyone else might agree with me. The majority of this story plays out as this fun and light tale of a mercurial man who just can't find it within himself to settle, and then the end felt a bit like being slapped in the face with the truth that this man had intimacy issues which caused him t...

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Deidra Lovegren
18:56 Aug 31, 2020

Thanks, Tyler. Your comments were very thorough and enlightening... I see Sally as more of a narcissist who deserves to die on the couch alone, but still a rascal who is missing (in the words of Jennifer Aniston) a sensitivity chip. (Who ever quotes Jennifer Aniston?) I'm sorry about your family's history and the hurt that one very flawed individual can cause. I wanted a cautionary tale because narcissists do NOT age gracefully and become the most bitterest of people once their charming superpowers wear off. At life's end, I find those who ...

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Richard Khamani
16:27 Apr 29, 2021

Very interesting and enlightening.

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Jane Thomson
04:03 Sep 06, 2020

Very witty! I like the 'Sally forth' jokes, and the grandad in the internet age vibe. The little excerpts (the telegrams and text messages) are succinct and hilarious.

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Deidra Lovegren
08:20 Sep 06, 2020

Yay Humor in the Age of Post-Enlightenment 🤪

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Meggy House
21:19 Sep 05, 2020

Wow! This is so nice! Your tone is hilarious and I like how Sally, instead of being confused by technology in his old age, adapts and thrives. Also, bugger is an awesome word. If you wouldn't mind, could you read one of my stories? This is my first time in a competition and I would love feedback! :)

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Deidra Lovegren
23:42 Sep 05, 2020

Thanks Meggy! Good luck with the competition. The best part of Reedsy is meeting amazing people from all over the world. :)

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Meggy House
00:14 Sep 06, 2020

And I can tell that you are one of those amazingly kind people. Thank you so much!

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Elle Clark
14:19 Sep 05, 2020

Ah, I just love the way you write! You’ve just such a strong voice that comes through regardless of the style you’ve chosen and always manages to enhance the narrative. For an American, you’ve definitely made this feel very English. The old bugger part of it cemented it for me. I was a bit surprised at the tonal shift of the end but I guess it brings the moral home a bit better than a lighthearted approach would have. My favourite parts were definitely the telegrams and emails - what a great way to get his voice in without him h...

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Deidra Lovegren
15:27 Sep 05, 2020

You are literally my favorite person in the world this morning. Yeah, I was roasted a bit for the tone at the end. The American side of me wanted our MC to Sally Forth in perpetuity, continuing to emotionally traumatize women who think they can "fix" lotharios. My imaginary British persona wanted this narcissistic old fool to sod off and atone for his sins in the most Protestant way possible. I am ALWAYS horrified at faking my way through my faux-British narratives. I always feel like some Londoner will violently correct me, yet instead ...

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Elle Clark
16:29 Sep 05, 2020

Ha, thank you. Feel free to move over - we could do with some more level headed people here. I’ve got another one up if you’re bored and have some spare time but no bother if not!

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Deidra Lovegren
17:34 Sep 05, 2020

Heading over right now :)

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Jack Fitzgerald
20:50 Sep 04, 2020

I don't know how to explain how I feel after reading this, mostly I'm in a state of awe. This is amazing! Keep my like, you've earned it.

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Deidra Lovegren
22:54 Sep 04, 2020

I like your like. Thanks for the likalicious liking.

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Richard Khamani
16:33 Apr 29, 2021

Alliteration? Me thinks

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Sampada Sharma
14:27 Sep 03, 2020

This is so so so different and unique. And I loved how you ended it!

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Deidra Lovegren
15:01 Sep 03, 2020

Endings are always challenging... Kinda easy to kill the ol' bugger off :)

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. .
06:39 Sep 03, 2020

Wow! This is so creative. I also loved the descriptions as well, it brings the whole story together

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Deidra Lovegren
06:58 Sep 03, 2020

Thanks, Sarah ❤️😀

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Kristin Neubauer
19:45 Sep 01, 2020

Hah! That's hilarious, Deirdra and so creative! I loved your opening - it hooked me right away and your great writing kept me rolling along through all of Sally's romances. How on earth did you come up with that?

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Deidra Lovegren
19:56 Sep 01, 2020

Thanks for the moral support :) YAY 1. My daughter was upset at being ghosted. So I thought, that's gotta be a human failing from way back...probably recorded on clay tablets in Mesopotamia, hieroglyphics in Egypt, etc. All types of communication used for people wanting connection and feeling hurt when it (whatever "it" is) ends... 2. I'm in Florida with lots of old people. Old people come in two flavors: super nice or super mean. I think the mean ones are primarily selfish narcissists who die alone and in pain. The warm and fuzzy selfless...

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Kristin Neubauer
21:47 Sep 01, 2020

Hearing about all those elements brewing in your mind and then seeing what comes out - wow, that makes it all so amazing. I hope your daughter feels better. I guess it happens to all of us at one point or another - and I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of ghosting once or twice. And, might I say, even your response read like a fabulous short story. Can’t wait to read more!

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08:59 Sep 01, 2020

I enjoyed this! The ending...ghosting women for over seventy years and now a ghost of his own...brilliant! Love your play on words. Looking forward to more of your stories!

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Deidra Lovegren
09:19 Sep 01, 2020

Yay! Thanks 🙏🏻 You’ve made my day ❤️

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Jonathan Blaauw
06:26 Aug 31, 2020

Please next time put a warning at the beginning for readers not to drink while reading – I nearly choked on my coffee! OMG Deidra, this is vintage you! Lol, these days has become a lie, people generally type lol while barely cracking a smile in reality. This is a rare instance of lol being true. Because I genuinely lol’ed. In fact, I ROFL’ed. The ongoing wordplay is masterful, but my favorite, favorite bits were the telegrams and emails. OMG (again, that’s the only appropriate term). And then just when I’d managed to stop laughing, ‘swiped ...

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Deidra Lovegren
16:06 Aug 31, 2020

Again, you are too kind. Not my favorite story, but Sally's life is a cautionary tale, after all; so our Lothario can die alone on the couch. I'm sure Sally didn't mind in the end, frantically holding the line against an endless supply of lonely widows. I was more interested in the human behavior of ghosting and how that has been carried down through the ages. Do undiscovered clay tablets in Mesopotamia have sad "are-you-still-there" messages written in cuneiform? Do hieroglyphics in some Egyptian tomb read about over-sharing with a strang...

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Jonathan Blaauw
06:40 Sep 01, 2020

I promise I'll nope my nopes if ever required, but this story is... nopeless! Interesting you talk about Sally being a narcissist because while it's plain to see in the story, he's an incredibly likable character nonetheless. His attitude of not caring overly about what others think and being impervious to the sting of rejection is refreshing and inspiring, especially for someone like me who can take life a bit too seriously at times. I don't think you'd want to change that though because it gives us complex, multi-layered character and is ...

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Deidra Lovegren
06:58 Sep 01, 2020

No one is a Native Floridian — As all are invasive species like lion fish and kudzu. Our phallic peninsula is similar to Italy’s classy boot-like peninsula in form only. Minus the history, art, class, bon homie and excellent cuisine, Florida is a cultural truck stop replete with Alligators 🐊 flamingos 🦩

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Jonathan Blaauw
15:47 Sep 01, 2020

Your comments are worth their weight in gold! At least you have lights - we're going off for our scheduled 4 hours soon. I think they're going to invent the term "4th world" just for us. I'm glad you like flamingos and alligators so much. Your emoji, though, was a crocodile. There's a difference. Apparently. Any self respecting Flo-Rider would know this. I'll give you a break though, it's been a very long week 🤣

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Deidra Lovegren
16:30 Sep 01, 2020

If we re-elect our present neo-fascist dictator, the good ol' USA will be a 9th world country (as in Dante's inferno 9th circle of hell). You would think Americans could come up with ANYONE to run for president who can properly eat corn off the cob or download an app on their iPhone or tell when they are lying or understand geopolitics better than a seven-year-old with the March 1978 edition of National Geographic.

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Christina Hall
21:30 Aug 30, 2020

Your story was fun, I enjoyed it.

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Deidra Lovegren
21:42 Aug 30, 2020

Thanks for commenting :)

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Doubra Akika
21:28 Aug 30, 2020

D&D!!! Saw you had posted another story on my activity feed and I had to come check it out! (Like always, I loved this!) I loved the Digital Sally bit and all the Sally Forth bits. Your writing blows me away each and every time! You're definitely in my top 3 favorite authors on here for your writing and all your comments. They really mean a lot! "He was an interesting man. Well, maybe less interesting and more mercurial. Well, maybe less mercurial and more of an arsehole." I loved that bit the most. Keep writing and stay safe! Love yo...

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Deidra Lovegren
21:37 Aug 30, 2020

D&D BABY My daughter was upset about being "ghosted" and I figured that phenomena wasn't new. I'm heading over to read your stuff now. LOVE from Florida

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Doubra Akika
21:40 Aug 30, 2020

😂😂 Hope she's good! And thanks so much!

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Black Rose
13:26 Feb 13, 2021

Amazing story

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