Everybody knows that person. The one who can’t put their phone down. The one who looks at it constantly, no matter what else is going on. The one who can’t be in a line or waiting room for 30 seconds before taking out their phone to see what’s going on in the world. Or, maybe you are that person. Today, with everything at our fingertips and in our pockets, it’s hard to imagine life without a smart phone.
That is what my story, Not Without My Phone! is all about. In it, the main character, Keller James is a phone junkie. His smart phone is always with him and is his most trusted companion. His friend, Phillip, accuses him of being an addict, but Keller balks at that term. He thinks he’s doing just fine and that his phone usage is totally normal.
Until something happens that turns his world upside down, as he’s forced to reexamine everything.
Here is an additional excerpt from Not Without My Phone!
Gus laughed, reaching into the popcorn bucket, his fingers brushing against mine for a moment. It felt so simple, but my stomach lurched all the same.
“I’m sure you’ll get through it. Besides, it should get easier as time goes on, not harder.”
“You’re the expert. You would know.”
A few other people started to trickle in, but they stuck mostly to the front. I couldn’t help but remark. “Why does everyone sit up front like that?”
“Because the screen is small. It’s not like a normal theater where everything is larger than life.”
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t think about it. Do you want to move closer?”
He shook his head, still chewing his popcorn. “I’m fine right here.”
He leaned closer, until our faces were merely inches apart. “Yup. That way we can make out if we want to,” he said, his voice soft.
My heart sped up, the thunder of the beat making my head swim. The thought of kissing Gus was something I’d considered before the evening started, but I never thought in a million years he’d be the one to suggest it.
“Um, okay…” I said, unsure of how to proceed.
Something about his demeanor changed in an instant, his face stiff as he eased back, his laughter sounding tight and forced. “Relax, Kell. I was kidding. I know I’m not really your type.”
“What does that mean?” I asked more defensively than I meant to.
“Well, you know, I’m right here. I’m not some headless torso online.”
His words stung more than I thought they would, but at least I knew how he really felt about me. I turned my eyes to the screen, even though there were no mindless ads to take up my attention. I slowly chewed a piece of popcorn, trying to calm down. Part of me wanted to get up and leave, but I was frozen to my seat, unable to move.
“I guess you have me all figured out, Gus.”
I looked down at his hand, now resting on my forearm. I wanted to meet his eyes, but I just couldn’t.
“I’m sorry, Kell. That was a messed-up thing to say. I thought it would be funny, but it came out all wrong.”
I shook my head, reaching for the soda, but I couldn’t seem to get a grip on it.
“It’s okay. Understandable, really. You’re not exactly wrong about me. ‘Deep as a puddle’ is what Phillip likes to say.”
Gus shocked me when he put a finger to my cheek, turning me his way. “I don’t think that.”
“Sure you do. It’s okay. Hell, it’s what I think about myself. Hook-up apps are easy. It’s so much less work to hook up and not have to really put my heart out there. It lets me protect myself. Plus, it’s fun. Or, at least it can be. Sometimes, it’s fun in the moment, but afterward, well, more and more, lately, I feel empty. Afterward.”
I had no idea why I was telling Gus any of this, but it was too late to take it all back. I turned my focus to the blank screen, unable to look at him for another second. The silence stretched out between us and I feared I’d gone too far.
“Well, that hardly sounds shallow. Sounds to me like you’re afraid of getting hurt. Nothing strange about that. I feel the same way, except I avoid it all. I don’t even bother to try and put myself there.” He gave my arm a gentle squeeze.
I met his eyes as the lights went down, the projection booth springing to life behind us. Before I could stop myself, I leaned in and kissed Gus. It was stupid, impulsive and I waited for him to pull away.
Except he didn’t.
Not Without My Phone! by Heidi Champa is now available at Amber Allure.
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