ThatGuyJohn Avatar
A general fiction story by


Submitted Jul 25, 2019, 10:20:52 AM

Are You Listening?

       “So, what do you think I should do?” I asked my wife, seeking her advice.
I’ve learnt to seek her advice after having one too many awkward conversations at the Returns desk at Makro. In my defence, they really should put ‘For Outside Use Only’ in a much bigger font. Like the size of the Emergency Services numbers on the back of the Yellow Pages.
       My wife paused mid-Instagram scroll and glanced at me sideways. She then turned to face me with eyes narrowed.
      “Do you think I should?” I asked, emphasising my invitation for her input.
       Eyes still narrowed, she now skewed her mouth to one side and began rubbing her forehead. She was obviously giving my question some serious thought.This is one of the reasons our marriage works so well - we’re completely invested in one another. Nothing is more important to me than her and nothing is more important to her than me.
       “I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening. I was distracted,” she apologised. All that stuff I said about our marriage - never mind. “The Spice Girls are getting back together,” she said, pointing at an Instagram post on her phone screen.
       I shook my head in disappointment.
       “If you wannabe my lover, you gotta learn to give me your attention,” I said sternly. Well, as sternly as one can when quoting girl band pop song lyrics. I suppose you could say ‘Spice up your life’ quite sternly. You could bark it at a friend who won’t stop boring you with stories of their dull life. I’m going to use that.
       “You never listen!” I huffed.
       “I do too listen!” my wife protested. “I was just a little distracted this one time.”
       I stifled a snort.
       “This one time. This one time! This ONE T...”
My wife flashed a glare at me as the volume of my voice became louder. “I can think of at least five times,” I hissed.
       “What? No you can’t,” she said, turning back to her phone.
       “Oh, yes I can,” I replied, relishing the challenge. “Last Tuesday I warned you that you had a clothes peg stuck in your hair. That afternoon you came back from the shops red-faced and laid into me for not telling you that you left the house with a clothes peg in your hair.”
       “I still don’t know how that peg got there,” my wife retorted.
       “Me neither,” I shrugged my shoulders innocently. It was me. I put the peg in her hair. I thought it would be funny. It was.
       “That’s only one example. What about the other four?” my wife replied, holding up four fingers on one hand while using the other hand to continue her exploration of ‘The Gram’.
       “Okay...” I searched my memory for another example. “Ah! That time I asked you to pick up shower gel on your way home. I asked you for the Care & Protect type, but you brought home the Extra Strength one. My skin turned all red and blotchy. People avoided me for two weeks. A person sitting next to me on the bus one morning Googled, ‘Is leprosy contagious?’”
       “That didn’t happen...” my wife started, but I interrupted. I was on a roll.
       “A few months ago I called you while you were at Checkers and asked you to buy Fruit Loops because I was bored of Coco Pops. I could hear your friend, Natalie, jabbering on in the background and you obviously weren’t paying attention to me because you brought home Coco Pops.” I said, pointing to the top kitchen cupboard because that’s where we store breakfast cereal.
       “Why don’t you ever go to the shops?” my wife asked irrelevantly.
       “Don’t change the subject!” I said, readying myself to hit her with another example of the complete disregard she often shows for the many important things I say. “And last year when you…”
      “Okay, you’ve made your point,” she interrupted. “I’m sorry.” She put her phone down on the coffee table. “Ask me again what you wanted to ask me.”
       “I accept your apology,” I said squeezing her hand. “I was telling you that Chris invited me to watch the new Will Ferrell movie on Saturday.”
       My wife nodded exaggeratedly to make sure I knew she was listening.
       “The problem is,” I continued. “I forgot I had said I would go and see the movie with him and so saw it with my brother last week. What should I do?”
       My wife cocked her head and closed her eyes, but didn’t say anything. Maybe she hadn’t fully understood the dilemma, so I elaborated.
       “Should I tell him and risk offending him? You know how sensitive he can be. Or pretend like I haven’t seen it, go with him and basically waste eighty bucks?”
       My wife opened her eyes and frowned. “Is she still not getting this?” I wondered.
       “So… what do you think I should do?”
       Her face began to redden and her frown deepened.
       “Wifey?” I leaned in closer to her.
       She took a deep breath. “We’re helping my mom move house this Saturday,” she said as she exhaled.
       “Oh, great. That solves that.” I said, relieved.
       “I told you that yesterday,” she said with a clenched jaw. “Twice. Each time after you asked me this same question. Twice.” Her face was now as red as it was the day she found a peg in her hair while out shopping.
       “Huh.” I sheepishly said, looking for an escape. I thought quickly and changed the subject. “I heard somewhere that the Spice Girls were getting back together. That’s exciting, hey?”
       My wife took another deep breath, picked up her phone and resumed flicking through Instagram. I decided I would give her some space and went off to pour myself a bowl of Coco Pops.


Mike L B Avatar

Mike L B

Commented Feb 6, 2019, 12:21:06 AM
Well done Alex! I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Being an older dude made me want to give a high five to brave Auntie. Nice to see older folks portrayed with spunk, cunning and revenge! According to my aging eyes, an entirely clean grammatical effort. One caveat: being a bleeding heart liberal Canuck, I'm a little perturbed by my American cousins' covenenant with the Second Amendment. (Sorry for the editorial)
kt6550 Avatar


Commented Feb 26, 2019, 10:41:10 PM
Excellent! Really good!