TO THE GIRL STARING AT HER PHONE • by Rebecca Bartels

He’s not going to text you and he’s definitely not going to call you. And most importantly, it’s not because he’s nervous or he’s too busy or he’s trying not to look too eager.

You’ve spent three days staring at a black screen and approximately three hours worth of battery re-reading old messages when the screen in your hand isn’t black.

Now you’re sitting at a party wondering what you’ve done wrong, and the truth is, you’ve done nothing. You scribbled your phone number down on the back of a receipt as you pushed your chair across the scuffed wooden floor and left the bar. The ten digits printed with an inky black pen remained at the table next to an empty glass of water and two empty glasses of stout. No name, no description, only those ten inky numbers and a ring of spilled beer.

He kept your number, half embarrassed, half surprised, all while subconsciously trying to recall various unspoken rules of how long to wait before putting it to use. He couldn’t picture your eyes or the way the summer heat was making you hair a little bigger than normal, he could only picture the way you ordered a stout with confidence and the way the neckline of your black dress dipped just below your collar bones.

And a week later he texted you. He told you his name and that it had been a pleasure meeting you. He didn’t lie, he just didn’t know how to admit he wasn’t quite sure who you were. At the very least he was open to the idea of putting a name to those ten inky digits.

And just like that, you could see your whole life together. You could see the pictures you would post on social media and the way your friends would tell you how much they liked him when he left the room. You could see the way your father would shake his hand at the door of your childhood home and the way your mother would smile at the two of you from across the living room. You could see the jealous regret in your ex-boyfriend’s eyes when you ran into him at the grocery store and the way your roommates would roll their eyes because he was always over at the apartment.

Now you’re sitting on the couch, surrounded by your friends. You’re doing mental calculations trying to solve the mystery of why he isn’t texting you. You’re staring at the black screen making deals with the inner dialogue rambling in your mind, promising that if he just texts you things will be different; better.

But he’s not going to text you and you’ll never know why. He’s not going to send you a lengthy message explaining that he kept your number because he was bored, or that he is flattered but he’s had his eye on his co-worker for months now. He’s not going to call you up and list all of the reasons why he wishes he could take you out on a date but nothing short of fate is keeping it from happening.

And eventually you’ll go to that bar again, but you won’t order the stout. He’ll bring the lager to the table and you’ll try your hardest to seem indifferent to his existence.

Truthfully, he’ll only recognize the dress and wonder what it would look like if the neckline were a few finger-lengths lower. He won’t remember the first message he sent you and he won’t feel remorse over the hours you wasted waiting for him to keep the conversation going. You’ll tip him exactly twenty percent and you’ll leave it on the table next to an empty water glass and a half-empty glass of that terrible lager. There’ll be no scribbled numbers and no cheeks flushed with romantic possibilities as you leave the bar.

He’s not going to text you, and if you could see just a little bit into the future and know that you’re no worse off without his halfhearted and fleeting messages, you’d put your phone down and enjoy the company of your friends because he’s not going to text you and he’s definitely not going to call you.


Rebecca Bartels is a twenty-three-year-old writer residing in Grand Rapids, MI. She received a B.S. in Anthropology with a minor in Philosophy from Cornerstone University in 2016. She currently spends most of her time making lattes at Starbucks.


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Every Day Fiction