After The Tone

For Round 10 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest, we asked you to send a story in the form of a voice mail message. Our winner was “Sorry for Your Loss.”

Man and dog i i
iStockphoto.com
Man and dog
iStockphoto.com

First of all, I'm not sure you know this, but there's no need for you to say, "Leave a message after the tone," because the automated woman says that immediately after you. It's redundant. I thought you should know.

Secondly, I didn't call just to tell you that — believe it or not. I know our relationship is characterized by antagonism, but that's not why I called. I was sitting here wondering why we have argued the last four or five times we've talked to each other and I figured it out. It's because we're not communicating. We're meeting each other — at a coffee shop or outside a grocery store by chance — and we are just spewing sentences at each other. We aren't even volleying. It's as if I say, "I feel like crap today," and then you say, "I just sit at my desk all day long wondering if you even listen to me." That's exactly what our conversations are like.

I don't know — can you even call that a conversation? I don't know. What the hell is my point? Oh yeah — we aren't getting along. I wanted to tell you that we aren't getting along well. There are things that you say and there are things that I say — and there is no Venn diagram of those things. There is no point where they meet.

I was sitting on a bench in Pershing Square last week — remember I had that meeting in the Flower District? It went well. Anyway, I was sitting on a bench in Pershing Square and this guy comes out of a building across the street. He's walking his dog and the dog is pulling and pulling and pulling and he's practically running in place. The dog has to pee badly or loves walks or something, but the guy just keeps his normal pace. He doesn't adjust his pace to the dog's. It's like he is silently saying, "Chill out. We will only ever go as fast as I want us to go." I feel like I am that dog and you are my companion, walking me only as fast as you want to go. Does that make sense? In that moment, it was perfectly clear. I was so ashamed. I felt so ridiculous.

So here I am — telling you over voice mail that I think we are incompatible. I don't even have the decency to do this over e-mail. Wait — that came out wrong. I'm not trying to break up with you. God. I can't believe I almost left a break-up message when that is, like, the last thing this message is about. I'm having a hard time getting to my point. So anyway, I'm pregnant. Call me.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.