The Warning Whistle

Written in response to: Start your story with the whistle of a kettle.... view prompt


Contemporary Romance Drama

The tea kettle is whistling, screeching. “Where are you going?” Marge asks, turning off the stove and rummaging through the cupboard for a tea bag.

I reply, “Bathroom.”

“Are you showering? I could come with you,” she waggles her eyebrows.

“No, not now.”

Fifteen minutes later, I step out of the bathroom, toweling off my wet hair.

Marge frowns when she sees me and sets down her tea cup. “I thought you weren’t showering.”

“I lied,” I saunter over to her and put my hands on her hips. “But you know I love you.”

“I hope that’s not a lie either,” Marge whispers huskily as my hands drift lower.

Marge’s robe slips off and I say, “Of course not.”

Slowly we gravitate toward the bed. “Nate. You know you’re going to be late,” she murmurs without conviction.

“It’s fine.” My words are drowned out in the rustling of the sheets.

Marge’s cup of tea goes cold, forgotten.


I park the car a block away from the office. Before going in, I tousle my hair and splash my face with water. Then I run up the stairs instead of taking the elevator like I normally do and sprint to the coffee machine because it’s 10:15 and Diane always gets coffee at 10:15.

I purposely bump into Diane, panting hard. “I’m so sorry, boss. I know I’m really late but my wife left the light on in my car last night and I couldn’t start it this morning,” I wipe the fake sweat off my forehead and hunch over, trying to catch my breath. “I had to take the metro and I ran all the way here but it was a good thing I did because I found this in the subway,” I hand Diane her wedding ring. I actually found it a week ago but I’ve been saving it for such an occasion.

“Oh gosh, John, thank you so much! I thought I’d lost it for good. I mean, a guy literally robbed me in the metro station a week ago. I guess the thief wasn’t such a great thief after all,” she slides the ring on her finger. “And don’t worry about being late. Just make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

I wink at Diane and give her my most charming smile, “Will do, boss.”

I take my time getting coffee, walking over to my cubicle, and powering on my computer. I snap on my headset and the day begins.

“Hi, you’ve reached the Cell-Ix Customer Service hotline, how may I help you?”

“Uh, hello,” from the sound of this woman’s voice she sounds old. Oh goody. “I was trying to call my grandson today but I got a message saying that my phone package expired and uhh, I don’t know what that means.”

“Yeah, that just means you’ve used all the call minutes included in the current package you pay for. Could you please give me your name and phone number? We can renew your current package which will cost you $45 or we can upgrade you to a better package with more call and text minutes since it seems like you use your phone a lot.”

“Uh, yes, my name is Rose Evans and my number is 471-321-6543. Could you tell me what it means to upgrade my package?”

I enter her info into the Cell-Ix portal as I say, “That means that you will have more call and text minutes than you do for the current package you have. The Platinum service package is one of our most popular and is the best value. You get unlimited call, text, and data for $60 a month. You could easily call your grandson every day with the Platinum service package. It’ll be like he’s right there with you.” What I don’t tell Rose is that she’ll have enough minutes to call her grandson every day by canceling her current Bronze Service package and purchasing the Silver Service package for just $40 a month.

“Yes, uhh, can I get the Platinum package?”

“Sure, that will be $60. Could you please give me your credit card number?”

One customer down, an unlimited more to go.


After work, I buy myself a decadent chocolate croissant on my way to the National Mall to meet Tiffany. I bite into the croissant as I get out of the car and realize I should have gotten one for Tiffany. Oh well, I’m not going to turn around now. I shove the pastry into my mouth so she won’t see it and stride over to our usual meeting spot under the cherry trees. 

The wind buffets the trash around my feet and clouds start gathering overhead. The heady scent of cherry blossoms fills the air and I inhale deeply. I hope it doesn’t rain. I would have to move my meeting with Tiffany and that would suck. 

Tiffany jumps up from the bench she was sitting on, throws aside the cherry blossom she was just studying, and winds her arms around my neck. We kiss.

“Hey, Flynn,” she breathes into my ear.

“Hey, gorgeous,” I say back, my hands tangling in her chocolate brown hair. Suddenly, fat rain drops start falling on my shoulders. We both start running to my car.


Tiffany strokes her fingers down my back as we lie on the queen bed in her apartment. “We should get married, Flynn, let’s make it official and move to LA! I’m sure you could find a law firm to work at there.“

“Soon, baby, soon. I just need-“ I’m interrupted by my ringing phone. I reach over and see that it’s nine PM. Marge is calling me. Shit. I should be home by now. Guess I got a little carried away.

I throw on my clothes and grab my phone. Tiffany clings to my arm. “Who is that, Flynn, why do you have to go? It’s not like you’re married, please stay!”

“One of my clients is having an emergency, Tiff, I gotta run. See you tomorrow. I promise,” I peck Tiffany on the cheek and dash out the door.

It’s pouring even harder now. I can barely see out the windshield as I drive home. I dig out the fancy, variety tea pack I bought a month ago at Safeway and run up the stairs to my apartment. I try to look sheepish as I open the door. Marge is sitting on the couch, arms crossed, a cup of tea in hand.

“Where have you been, Nate?!” her voice is as high-pitched as a tea kettle whistling. “You’re always home by 8:30 and now it’s ten and it’s raining outside and…is that tea?” She points to the box in my hand. 

I hand it over and look down modestly. “I wanted to get you a nice gift but I couldn’t find normal tea anywhere. I totally forgot about the time, please forgive me.”

Marge inspects the tea box and smiles. “Oooh, peach tea! And apple tea! That’s so sweet, Nate. I’m sorry I overreacted. Oh, you’re sopping wet, come here.”

Marge helps me get undressed, bundles me into warm blankets, and pours us both steaming, hot cups of apple tea. 

We are climbing into bed when Tiffany sends me a text. Are you okay, Flynn? Marge’s brows furrow as she reads the text over my shoulder.

“Who’s Flynn?”

“No clue. The sender isn’t in my contacts either. They must have mistyped the number,” I reply. Marge shrugs and I turn off the lights.


Tiffany finds out my real name, my job, and my marriage status six months later. The tea kettle is whistling when she shows up at my door. A lot of screeching ensues. Marge finds out about Tiffany. She forgets about her tea. And that’s the end of that.

We get a quickie divorce. We signed a prenuptial agreement before we got married so no court trials or negotiations are required. Marge keeps the house and the car. They were hers anyway. One of the reasons I married her. 

I fall into my old routine again. This marriage lasted longer than the others so I’ve gotten a bit rusty. I pack my things, quit my job, and move to a new city. I’m tired of Washington D.C anyway. If anything, Tiffany did me a favor. 

I move to New York City and get a job at Cell-Ix’s New York branch. My new apartment sucks but I’ll find a nicer place to live in soon.


A week after I move, I’m walking out of my apartment when I hear a kettle whistling from my neighbor’s apartment. A warning maybe. Or a beacon. 

I smile and go back into my apartment, waiting for the neighbor's door to open. As soon as it does, I leave my apartment.

“Hold the elevator, please!” I call to my neighbor and run in. The neighbor turns out to be a beautiful blonde woman. She’s holding a portable tea cup.

“You must be the new guy,” she says as she pushes the first-floor button. “I’m Sheila.”

I give her my most charming smile. “Nice to meet you. I’m Michael.”

August 23, 2022 14:53

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Althea Jones
22:53 Aug 24, 2022

Ha! I love this story! Great ending. :)


Sophia Gardenia
17:34 Aug 25, 2022

Thank you! You can't imagine what your comment means to me. Seriously. I squealed when I read it. This is my first story so I wasn't sure if it was any good.


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Amanda Lieser
20:49 Nov 30, 2022

Hey Sophia! Wow! I loved this piece. I thought it played on the trope of a cheating spouse very well. I also liked the way the characters all seemed to know this routine, even if they weren’t aware of knowing this routine. I would have loved a bit more of the MC’s backstory-why does he do what he does? Although, I suppose you could make the argument that it ultimately doesn’t matter WHY, because he just DOES. Thanks for writing!


Sophia Gardenia
01:38 Dec 01, 2022

Gosh, I did not expect such kind words on a story I thought was one my poorer ones. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! Honestly, I would like to know more of the MC's backstory too. Perhaps I will write a prequel piece... I think the MC lied/manipulated a few times when he was younger and he discovered the power of lying. He continued doing it and now he doesn't know how to stop because he's never been anything other than a liar. You definitely touched on the message I was trying to convey in the story; a lot of people lie, manip...


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J P Fierkens
16:06 Aug 27, 2022

The theme of the main character having an apology present ready for everyone really sells his manipulation persona. I liked the idea. When Marge talks to the main character in their second scene together she calls him both Nate and John. Was that a typo? Great job!


Sophia Gardenia
16:09 Aug 27, 2022

Oh, yes, thank you for catching that!


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