It was my idea to go out. Things haven’t been quite the same since my husband got his new job. Always on his phone, the few moments I get with him are spaced out “uh-huhs,” and “I’m sorry," as he leaves the room to take a call. He is required to be on call at all times... or so he tells me. So, I requested a date, somewhere you have to make reservations; where there is a table and potential for conversation. After several pleas he agreed, and I made the reservations.
On the way there, the only breaks of silence come in the form of dings and buzzes from his phone placed strategically on the center console. His phone never stops. I swear it is intentionally taunting me, as if saying “You can never compete. I will hold his attention more than you ever can.” I begin to feel this night is going to end in severe disappointment.
My thoughts alternate between my despise for this third companion and concern for how I am going to tell my husband I’m pregnant. Should I just outright say it? Or should I wait until my belly gets in the way as he reaches for the remote? I have come to realize that my strongest fear is seeing the disappointment in his eyes as I break the news. At least I won’t feel like a third wheel anymore.
The conversation I attempt on the way to the restaurant whizzes by with the passing signs and lights. I ask him anything else besides work, since work keeps interjecting itself into the conversation with each buzz. His replies come in one-word grunts. His work has more of a voice than I have. I used to be so strong, bold, and confident of what I wanted in life. Now, I feel like walking loneliness.
We arrive at the restaurant and a graceful, beautiful woman leads us to our table. My husband hardly looks up from his phone on the way there. Well, I doubt he is cheating on me, he hardly noticed. Actually, I’ve never wondered if my husband was cheating on me. I know it’s silly, seeing all the signs are kind of there. It shames me to admit, but sometimes I even want that to be the case. At least he would leave her where she is and wouldn’t bring her home. At least there would be some hint of passion I saw in the early days, even if it is directed at someone else.
We sit down at a table the color of hope, and the hostess directs us toward the drink menu. “Your waiter will be on his way.” I thank her, smelling the floral fragrance she leaves in her wake. I look towards my husband. He’s perusing the drink menu without a second glance my direction. His phone buzzes and with a frustrated sigh he reverts his eyes from the list of specialty wines. I can’t tell if he is annoyed at the phone or the drink menu. I look around at the couples, families, and friends at the neighboring tables. At every table someone is staring intently at their phone. I lock eyes with another woman whose husband appears as oblivious to his surroundings as mine, and we give each other a nod and sad smile.
“Something is wrong with my phone, it was at 90% when we left.” I look up at my husband, watching him frantically try to turn it on. “It’s not working,” he looks up at me panicked, “can I borrow yours?” I tell him I didn’t bring mine. With an exasperated gasp he begins to look around; although, I’m not sure what he is looking for. He looks like an addict in a desperate search for a fix.
I look around as well. I notice others are having the same issues. I see others try to restart their phones, some pressing numerous buttons, others resorting to more physical means. I try to conceal the small amused smile forming at the corners of my mouth. I look back at my husband; he is still attempting to resuscitate his phone.
“Maybe a cell tower is out?” A lady’s voice responds at a table to the right of ours, “Well, wouldn’t that only make sense if we all had the same service providers?”
“Excuse me ma’am, do you know what is going on?” I see the pretty hostess explain to a man that they are working on finding out, and then offers to get him another refreshment. I look at my husband again.
“What do you think happened?”
I respond, “I only know as much as you do, but everyone else seems to be having the same problem. Why don’t you order a drink?”
He looked at me and with a nervous chuckle, “Yeah, I think that's a good idea.”
Right on cue, the waiter presents himself, and my husband asks him for drink recommendations. “Are you going to have anything?”
I smile, “No, thank you,” as I place a hand on my stomach.
After ordering, he looks at me, “Remember when we were in college and we had to rely on landlines to reach each other?”
I laugh, “Yeah, and we would stay up all night and talk.”
“Those long cords were a lifesaver… we barely had any privacy with your family.”
I chuckle; our phones never had long cords. I missed his jokes. “I would always have to check if my little brother was listening on the other line.”
He smiles, “Things were definitely a lot simpler then, weren’t they?”
I nod with a smile that doesn’t reach my eyes.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been present lately; work has been crazy... I hardly feel like myself anymore.”
You haven’t been yourself at all. I look at him earnestly, “You’re right you haven’t, I have really missed you.”
He looks at me, “I know, I’m sorry... I promise I will be better for you.”
“For us,” I look down and touch my stomach. Just tell him.
He looks at me curiously, and starts to say something. The waiter appears with his drink and leaves us as quickly as he appeared. Just tell him.
I look down, my hand still placed on my stomach, “There is something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”
My husband is now looking at me intently. He finally sees me, maybe there is a chance after all.
Just as I begin to speak, a middle-aged man at another table loudly exclaims, “Finally!”
To my horror, I notice the bright screen and look around. People are turning on their phones. I look back at my husband. I see him doing the same, and my spirit sinks. I missed my chance.
He is swiping through his messages. “I’m sorry... the boss called three times. I need to call and let him know what happened.” He looks up at me, “We’ll continue the conversation after I take care of this, okay?”
He leaves the table before I have a chance to respond. I look down at my menu without reading the words. Yeah, I missed my chance.
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Ooh, I like this story! Short and sweet (I’ve always admired the people who are capable of an awesome story like this in so few words) and I loved the ending—it actually caught me off-guard, and despite how much I was hoping for your narrator to tell her husband that she was pregnant, I think the ending you came up with hits in a different and pretty meaningful place. It’s definitely accurate to how technology and our reliance on it is today (unfortunately :( ). Something about you not naming the characters, either, hits different as well, a...
Oh, and best of luck on the contest this week!
Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments! I did purposely leave out names and I'm glad you liked that element. I've really enjoyed reading your work, and I have to say, I have a lot to learn! I look forward to reading more of your work as well. : )
Thank you! I’m always trying to improve and love feedback (especially from such talented writers like you)!