Failure to Communicate

Submitted into Contest #154 in response to: Write a story about someone who feels increasingly irrelevant.... view prompt


Contemporary Fiction Sad


Mike, sent 18:07. Read 18:43.

            So what’s the latest trend on TikTok?

Sarah, sent 18:43. Read 18:58.

Where did you go? We’re having dinner. You left me on my own for half an hour!

Mike, sent 18:59. Read 18:59.

            And it only took you 36 minutes to notice I was gone. What’s trending on TikTok?

Sarah, sent 19:00. Read 19:02.

What does that have to do with anything?

Mike, sent 19:03. Read 19:03.

            I asked first. What’s the big thing on TikTok just now?

Sarah, sent 19:03. Read 19:04.

Are you being serious? WTF is going on? Where are you?

Mike, sent 19:06. Read 19:06.

            You were staring at your phone all night. You must know about the latest nonsense that people are up to. Is it a dance? A song? Dancing ferrets singing a song about avocado toast?

Sarah, sent 19:07. Read 19:07.

People are dancing to a thing from the 90s. There. I answered your question. Where are you? What’s going on?

Mike, sent 19:07. Read 19:08.

            I knew you’d know.

Sarah, sent 19:08. Read 19:08.


Mike, sent 19:08. Read 19:08.

            What did I say to you at dinner before I walked away?

Sarah, sent 19:10. Read 19:10.

I don’t know. What did you say?

Mike, sent 19:11. Read 19:11.

            Interesting that TikTok stuff stuck more in your head than what I told you. I should be surprised but that’s the way things have been going for a while now. Did you enjoy the food? Did you notice what I’m wearing?

Sarah, sent 19:12. Read 20:23.

Are you losing your mind? I don’t know what you said. Tell me if it’s that important. Don’t make a big deal out of nothing. I’m sorry I was on my phone.

Mike, sent 20:23. Read 20:34.

            You’re wearing your black Star Wars T-shirt with the picture of Grogu dressed as Vader. You had your hair tied up in a bun when I left. You’re wearing the Hello Kitty pyjama trousers with the hot chocolate stain on the crotch. Know what I’m wearing?

Sarah, sent 20:35. Read 20:35.

Clothes? I don’t know.

Mike, sent 20:35. Read 20:35.

            I didn’t think so. There’s something you’re not wearing today. You haven’t worn it in weeks. Can you remember what it is?

Sarah, sent 20:36. Read 20:36.



Mike, sent 20:37. Read 20:37.

            I was talking about your wedding ring. You took it off two weeks ago. That’s about the same time you stopped complaining about the way the new guy at work keeps flirting with you.


Sarah, sent 03:28. Read 04:09



We need to talk.

Sarah, sent 06:00. Read 06:01

It’s not what you think Mike. Please call me.

Sarah, sent 06:30. Read 06:30.




Sarah, sent 14:55. Read 16:03.

Where are you mike? I really need to talk to you about everything.

Sarah, sent 13:43. Read 16:03.

Pick up the phone.



Sarah, sent 15:59. Read 16:03.

Mike youre being really fsuking childish.

Mike, sent 16:04. Read 16:04.

            Says the woman who’s had a washing machine for four years and still can’t get it to turn on.

Sarah, sent 16:05. Read 16:06.

That’s not my fault.

Mike, sent 16:06. Read 16:06.

            True. Its my fault for doing everything for you and expecting that eventually you would try to do your hakf


Sarah, sent 16:29. Read 19:32.

I do my part.

Don’t say you do everything.

Mike, sent 20:08. Read 21:12.

            I do the recycling.

            I take out the bins.

            I clean the toilets.

            I was the clothes.

            I cook the meals.

Sara, sent 21:14. Read 21:14.

I order takeout all the time.

I put the sheets on the bed.

Mike, sent 21:15. Read 21:15.

            BRAVO *clapping* YOURE A HERO

            How would I live without you?

            Would I live without you?

            I live without you.


Sarah, sent 09:42. Read 10:13.


Maybe I have been a bit selfish recently.

I’m sorry.

Mike, sent 10:13. Read 10:16.



Sarah, sent 10:17. Read 10:17.

Yes. OK. I am selfish.

I’m sorry. Please come home and talk.

I’ll be better. I promise.

Mike, sent 10:18. Read 10:18.

            I did come home last night.

            I got back to the house at about midnight.

            There was a blue car parked in my spot. It had your company parking pass sitting on the dashboard.

            Didn’t you say Derick drives a Lexus?

            I got into the hallway outside our door and I could hear screaming.

            I thought you were upset. I let myself in.

            Just in time to hear you telling whoever you were with in the kitchen that it was the best sex you’ve ever had.

Mike, sent 10:26. Read 10:26.

            I don’t even know the last time we had sex. Do you?


Sarah, sent 10:00. Read 15:51.

I never meant for any of this to happen Mike.

It’s been hard at work recently and Derick has been there for me.

I love you Mike.

I font love him.


Sarah, sent 15:59. Read 18:08.


I have things I need to tell you.

I know ive been distant.

You do so much for me.

That’s why I love you.

One of many reasons.

I didn’t mean what I said to Derick when you heard it. I swear I didn’t mean that. I just wanted some release from the tension. I’ve been lonely without you. We’ve been together for six years Mikke. Lets not throw that away over something silly.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.



Mike, sent 06:01. Read 07:15.

            You’re not sorry.

            You don’t care about me.

            You never cared about me.

            You were always selfish.

            Everyone told me to end it with you.


            My mum cried when I said I’d proposed to you. They weren’t tears of joy. She said that you were just stringing me along, using me until you found something better. I thought we’d made it so long because deep down you loved me.

            Now I see that you just never found anyone as useful as me.

Sarah, sent 07:17. Read 07:18.

Where are you? Did you run off crying to your parents? Are mummy and daddy patting you on the back and telling you everything is going to be alright?


Derick is bigger than you.

Most guys are.

Mike, sent 07:20. Read 07:21.

            Derick is welcome to you.

            I want a divorce.

Sarah, sent 07:38. Read 07:39.

So what?

I’ll get half of everything you own.

Mike, sent 07:45. Read 07:46.

            I just donated all of the money from our accounts to charity. We’re now in debt. Feel free to take half of it.

Sarah, sent 08:32. Read 08:33.

You moron.

That’s my money.

Mike, sent 08:34. Read 08:34.


            Was your money.

Sarah, sent 08:45. Read 08:45.

I’ll sue you.

Mike, sent 08:45. Read 08:46.

            For what?

            We’re broke.

            Best to declare bankruptcy.

            The bank will take the house.

            That’s ok.

            You can live with Derick.

            My mum was right about you.


Sarah, sent 04:38. Read 09:37.

You know I do remember the last time we had sex. It was six months ago.

Sarah, sent 10:53. Read 10:57.

Want to know how I know?

Sarah, sent 11:11. Read 12:42.

Because I’m pregnant.


Sarah, sent 12:43. Read 13:21.

I’m pregnant mike.

It’s yours.

Nothing to say about that?

Sarah, sent 15:52. Read 16:42.








Mike, sent 16:49. Read 16:56.

            Sure thing Sarah. *winks*


            Of course.

Sarah, sent 16:57. Read 16:57.

I am.

You have to believe me.

Mike, sent 16:58. Read 16:58.

            Why would I believe you.

            You say you’re pregnant but you didn’t tell me for months.

            You’re not showing.

            Option 1, you’re lying.

            Option 2, the baby isn’t mine.

            Conclusion: I DON’T CARE

Sarah, sent 17:01. Read 17:01.

Do you want your child to grow up without a father?

What would your dad say about that mike?

Mike, sent 17:03. Read 17:04.

            I don’t know what he’d say now, Sarah.

            He died on Wednesday.

            I told you while we were having dinner.

            You said ‘That’s a shame’ and you went back to TikTok.

            That’s why I left you Sarah.

            That’s why I hope you’re lying about being pregnant.

            Don’t have a child.

            Do everyone a favour and die alone. 

July 12, 2022 13:13

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Kanika G
10:16 Jul 18, 2022

This was an interesting story. I was intrigued when I read the first few lines and wanted to see where it led and then I was hooked. The typos were funny and made it look real. I think one of the problems they had, in addition to everything else - all the big stuff, is that they communicated through texts. I know it wasn't always like this for the couple, but trying to resolve differences through texts usually makes things worse. I really enjoyed the unique style of this story and read it quickly as I wanted to know what happens next. Well d...


Graham Kinross
10:52 Jul 18, 2022

Thank you Kanika. It was an experiment. It's nice that people like it. I had the time sent and read to show that sometimes they were ignoring each other even when they read the texts.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michał Przywara
20:34 Jul 18, 2022

Holy! That just kept getting wilder and wilder. It starts off innocently enough, and then each exchange adds to the mess. We went from being ignored at dinner for a cellphone – probably something everyone can relate to – to cheating, a (maybe) baby, and a dead father. The voices of both characters come through strongly. His is smug, controlling (makes sense, since he was paying attention to the inciting incident) and full of reproach. She's flies between worried, panicking, and malicious. Her texts strike me as manipulative, but maybe th...


Graham Kinross
23:30 Jul 18, 2022

I think it would be a learning experience for them both but more for him.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Robert Gross
13:48 Jul 15, 2022

Such a great take on tech in our lives. Your story seems so believable! So often, I see families of people all glued to their phones and I'm so glad I am able to remember life before wireless. Great story!


Graham Kinross
15:00 Jul 15, 2022

Thanks Robert, kind words like that really make my day.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Aeris Walker
08:30 Jul 14, 2022

These two need a solid marital counseling session for sure. I liked the way you started the story kind of vaguely, and slowly revealed information that gave us a better idea of what these characters’ lives look like together. And I think you touched on many real emotions, well done.


Graham Kinross
09:43 Jul 14, 2022

I don’t think counselling would cut it for them. Thanks.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
00:17 Jul 14, 2022

This is really good. the argument is so so realistic. A life lesson. It makes me want to close all my electronics and be a good listener. The story started off very experimental and I thought this might be an abstract art piece, but then the plot started in the text messages at exactly the right time.


Graham Kinross
03:08 Jul 14, 2022

I wasn’t sure if I should have added a perspective of Mike or Sarah but by the end it didn’t seem to matter who was looking at it. I don’t think you need to know what they look like because you can make it up.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
L. E. Scott
14:15 Jul 13, 2022

The typos actually make this more realistic. This is an interesting take on a dialog only exposition story. You really get a sense of the characters and how toxic their relationship is.


Graham Kinross
03:07 Jul 14, 2022

Thank you.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Mark Edmonds
00:25 Jul 21, 2022

A good idea but a very slow moving journey then a jump to sudden dislocation. I missed any sign of empathy.


Graham Kinross
00:31 Jul 21, 2022

Thanks for your feedback.


Graham Kinross
00:48 Jul 21, 2022

Any ideas for creating more empathy?


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Lily Finch
21:23 Jul 20, 2022

I like the sense of realism about people being so involved with technology that they forget their spouses/partners and real life. Great job!


Graham Kinross
04:18 Jul 21, 2022

Thank you. All too familiar now isn’t it?


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Thomas Pascal
13:30 Jul 20, 2022

Hey Graham, This was great! Well done for keeping it dark and having the ending dark, good stuff. Loved it. If I had to make one suggestion I would say that Sarah changed from wanting Mike to talk to her to telling Mike he's a piece of shit pretty damn quick. And I think it would have been better for that to be slightly more gradual or have a hint that Sarah might say that stuff a bit earlier in the piece. Just my thoughts. Good work!!


Graham Kinross
14:14 Jul 20, 2022

Thanks Thomas. Nice that people appreciate the dark stuff. I'm not sure if it's too much sometimes.


Thomas Pascal
02:33 Jul 21, 2022

Yeah, it's a fine line, hey.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Avery Mossop
01:47 Jul 19, 2022

Great story! It felt like such a real argument. The reveal of the catalyst for him leaving at the end was great. Poor Mike. But he got a pretty good dig in with that last line.


Graham Kinross
03:09 Jul 19, 2022

I wasn’t sure if the last line was too harsh. I considered cutting it but I liked it so it stayed, glad you appreciated it. Thanks for reading.


Avery Mossop
11:36 Jul 19, 2022

No it was great! Harsh for sure, but in the context of their epic argument it felt right.


Graham Kinross
11:44 Jul 19, 2022

Thank you.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
BA Eubank
00:04 Jul 17, 2022

This is great! I love how you did the story via text messages.


Graham Kinross
00:15 Jul 17, 2022

Thank you.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
09:15 Feb 28, 2023

His dad was dead. Thats really messed up. Was she not listening to him when he told her. I want to say thats impossible but i think this has probably happened soenthere.


Graham Kinross
11:30 Feb 28, 2023

She was distracted when he was talking and realised it was about something sad so she just replied automatically without even thinking. Does that make sense?


09:33 Mar 01, 2023

It does.


Graham Kinross
10:10 Mar 01, 2023

Thank you very much, LM.


09:11 Mar 03, 2023

Youre welcome.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.