Mis-Communication by Sue Buckingham

Where was it? Where had I put it? I‘d seen it in the bedroom this morning, so I knew I had it then. But where was it now? 

My sister’s voice interrupted my thoughts. 

“So did I tell you what happened to Pete?” 

“No,” I dutifully replied, only just managing to succeed in not rolling my eyes to the ceiling. Sitting down, I prepared myself for a long and convoluted tale. 

“Well, he was called into his manager's office last Thursday. You know he can’t stand his manager. She’s really got it in for him, so he was fully expecting a big argument.” 

Pete’s troubles at work were legendary. It was never his fault of course, always someone else to blame. I’d once sat through ten minutes of a story about mis-directed emails, discounted prices and a very unhappy customer. Despite it clearly sounding - to me at any rate - that Pete had messed up, somehow, a poor unfortunate junior in his team had got the brunt of the blame and Pete had got off with a very mild warning. Whatever the story, my sister always had his back. I guessed that was why they were still married after twenty years. 

“Uh-huh,” I said distractedly, only really listening with half an ear. Where on earth was it? I took a surreptitious look around the living room. I could see it wasn’t on the coffee table, or the mantlepiece, or the window-sill. Stretching my right hand behind me, I felt around. It wasn’t down the sofa. I scanned the room again. Nowhere in sight. Where on earth was it hiding? 

“So that was a result, wasn’t it?” My sister's voice brought me out of my musing. 

“Yes,” I said, hesitantly, hoping that was the right answer and my sister wasn’t being ironic. She paused for a second and I wondered if I had made the wrong call. But then she was off again. 

“I don’t think she’ll try that one again.” Her triumph was evident. She let out a big sighing breath, then almost before it had faded away, she was taking another one in. I could almost see her shoulders lifting, girding herself for the next story. “Yesterday —” 

“Give me a second,” I interrupted. I needed some refreshment before she started the next instalment of her life. “I’m going to put the kettle on for a cup of tea, do you want one?” 

“Ha, Ha,” she laughed sarcastically, at our in-joke. My sister had never drunk tea in her life. But it never stopped me from offering her one, when I was making one for myself. Just as she always offered me a glass of wine when she was having one, despite the fact that I had always been tee-total. 

“And I don’t want a coffee either,” she continued “I’ve had four this morning already and if I have another, I’ll be bouncing off the ceiling. Go on then, get that brew on. I can tell you’re gasping.” 

I ran out into the kitchen and pushed the button down on the kettle, which immediately started its loud whooshing and popping. I never understood why it had to make such a fuss about bringing the water to the boil. 

I quickly scanned the work surfaces and even looked in the fridge, just in case I had put it in there with the milk this morning (stranger things had happened). But no, it wasn’t there. This was now getting annoying. 


As I walked back into the living room, my sister resumed the story I had interrupted. This time the subject was her four-year old grand-son, the apple of her eye. 

“Luca is so adorable. Natalie brought him over to us yesterday for a couple of hours, so she could do some clothes shopping in peace. We were playing with his castle and he was pretending to be a prince. He told me that I was a princess and then he asked me if I would marry him. It was a better proposal than the one I had from Pete! I’ve got loads of videos of him. Luca that is, not Pete. There’s one where he is—” 

I’d zoned out again. Perhaps it was still in the bedroom. I definitely remembered seeing it on the bedside table when I got up that morning. 

“Hold that thought,” I interrupted yet again. “I just need to check something.” Bounding up the stairs, I arrived at the top, red faced and out of breath. I opened my bedroom door. As I did, an excruciatingly loud drilling noise started up in the room next door. I almost jumped out of my skin, before realising what it was. 

“What on earth is that noise?” shouted my sister at the top of her voice. 

“Sorry,” I shouted back over the din. “Builders. Hang on” 

I took a quick look around the bedroom. It wasn’t on the bedside table. My eyes scanned the deep pile carpet around the bed. No it hadn’t fallen off. Getting awkwardly down onto my knees and one elbow, I peered under the bed. Not there. How was I going to manage on my own, without it? More importantly, was this the start of something I should be concerned about? I didn’t usually lose things, so why now? Giving myself a mental shake, I bounded back down the stairs to arrive, even more breathless, at the bottom. 

“I forgot to tell you that I had builders in. They’re putting fitted wardrobes in the spare room and just started drilling the wall. It’s much louder than I thought it would be. I hope the neighbours won’t complain again.” 

“Look,” my sister replied. “You’ve got a lot going on, so I won’t keep you any longer. As it is you are going to have to make a huge pot of strong tea, for all those builders. I’d suggest making them some bacon sandwiches too. Always a good idea to keep builders well refreshed.” 

I laughed. “Yes, you’re right. As I’m going to be busy in the kitchen, are you sure you don’t want me to add a cup of coffee to the order and bring it over to you? I can make an extra bacon sandwich as well if you like.” 

“With brown sauce,” I continued. “Two, if Pete wants one.” 

My sister chuckled. 

“Ah, you certainly know the way to my heart. But I somehow think they would be rather cold, after a fifty-mile journey from your house to mine. It’s a lovely thought though,” she sighed wistfully. Then in a more cheerful voice she continued: 

“Never mind. I’ll look forward to the coffee when we get together next week. We can catch up properly then. Face to face.” 

“The afternoon tea is booked. I’m looking forward to it,” I replied warmly. 

My last words were almost drowned out by another burst of drilling. When it finished, my sister said: 

“Things are getting noisy there. I’ll say goodbye for now and I’ll see you soon.” “You’re right. I’ll see you at the cafĂ© in a week. Love you big sis. Bye.” 

“Love you too, little sis. Bye.” 

As I ended the call, I realised I had found my missing mobile phone.

Published in Issue #18

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