Purgatory in Binary

      14 Comments on Purgatory in Binary

Garrett wasn’t what Susan expected. She usually went for the intellectuals, the bankers or the attorneys. You know, the ones who post professional head shots even on online dating sites. And when Garret, a construction worker, sent her a “Hey gorgeous!” message and a wink, I regretted not having set Susan up with Jen and Brian’s boy all those years ago. I’d have some grandchildren by now. Now that she was forty and unmarried, these were the promising options she had.

I would’ve deleted the message before she read it if I could. But I couldn’t, so I glided between the silicon bits, and got into Garret’s profile. He was a high-school dropout and he had sent the same message to five other women. My Susan would never fall for this. She’s a senior associate on the partner track at Brown & Benning, not just a pretty face.

But she lingered over his profile. She was actually considering this guy. And then she did swiped right. I expressed my disapproval by making the phone screen blink repeatedly. She stared at my photo on the wall for a second and turned the phone face down on her table. Why did she have to get my bad taste in men? And her father’s pigheadedness? If you wanted to set your life on fire, there couldn’t have been a better combination.

They would be okay financially, but how would Popeye here feed her intellectual appetite? With his muscles?

The following evening, he showed up in jeans, a white tee and a jean jacket. Yikes!

“Susan?” he asked at the door. Who else would it be? I was sure he had a little black book to keep track of all the women he was planning to hook up with.

I knew that smile on Susan’s face. She was uncertain. Suze, listen to that tiny voice inside your brain! I tried to telepathically relay this to her, but they headed to the bedroom.

I got it then. This was just going to be a one-night stand. Excellent! Of all the places I could linger about after death, why did I have to get stuck in my daughter’s phone? It was good in a way, I could keep track of her, but not when she was in bed with someone. To tune out her moans, I went into her Kindle app and spent the night reading.

Just when I was starting to feel relieved about not seeing Garrett again, the bugger messaged her the following evening.

“Last night was great, wanna do it again?” Two heart emojis.

Susan smiled. “How about next week?” Oh God, No! 

“Why not tomorrow?” He replied within seconds.

“Tomorrow’s a rough day. Don’t want to talk about it.”

“OK you take care, I’ll text next week.” Heart and kiss emoji.

Not tomorrow. Hah! She was trying to avoid him. Take the hint, Garrett!

But that pest showed up at the door with flowers the next evening.

Susan was clearly annoyed. “Garrett, I already told you…”

“I know, I’m sorry for showing up like this. But I thought I’ll bring you some flowers since you had a rough day. I’ll leave now.” He said. What was he trying to do? I glided into the app and checked his profile again. This time he had only messaged Susan.

“No, stay.” She said after a pause, paying no attention to the vigorous blinking on her phone.

They settled on the couch with glasses of wine. “Do you want to talk about it?” Garrett asked. Oh no, this wasn’t good. Not good at all.

“It’s just that my mom died this day last year.” Susan said slowly. I stopped blinking. I had forgotten. Jay and I had quarreled, yet again. I remember taking the car out, the sheets of rain, truck headlights and then not much else.

Garret had his arm around her. “I’m sorry. I know how it feels. I lost someone really close too.”

“Who? Want to tell me about it?” Susan asked, touching his arm.

“My son. He lived with his mother. He’d been sick for a while. I went into a dark place after he passed.” His eyes were wet. “Anyway, tell me more about your mom. What was she like?” He asked tenderly.

I was glad my Susan had someone by her side today. Garrett wasn’t what I had expected either.

“But hey,” he asked. “Your phone, why does it keep blinking?”

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

14 thoughts on “Purgatory in Binary

  1. innatejames

    I like how you gave the inanimate object a human backstory, sort of like the furniture in Beauty and the Beast. The scene where she opens up Kindle was clever, too. It expanded her world beyond just the phone.

  2. Asha Rajan

    I liked the idea of the soul trapped in the phone. And that it hadn’t lost any of the personality of the person in life — she still learned about her daughter. I really loved that she’d gotten so caught up in her daughter’s life that she forgot the significance of the date. That was a neat twist.

    1. mixedbag Post author

      Yay! Thanks, Asha. I had fun writing mom’s character. Also it feels great being back on the fiction grid after ages!

  3. KJ Hunter

    This was such an unexpectedly sweet story! So well crafted, and the mother’s personality really does shine through the phone. The common bond between Susan and Garrett was a nice touch.

    1. mixedbag Post author

      Margaret, thank you so much for beta reading this. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to post this otherwise. So glad you liked it 🙂

  4. Trish Tuthill

    This is a fantastic story. I came in to read it after the line was used for Yeah Write #390. I can only imagine the havoc my mother could cause trapped in a phone! Thanks for a great read.


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