The Message from Ruben

The Message from Ruben

A stranger accidentally text-messaged me. Usually I’d press delete before reading any of the content. I’m quick that way, unless it’s a familiar name. I don’t have time for bullshit. But then, I read the beginning:

Hey sexy,

Bet you think you never here from me again?

Sexy? That wasn’t a word I’d use to describe me. And what about the bad spelling and grammar? Still I scrolled down to see if a name was included:


Did I know a Ruben? It’s not like Bob or Tom. I stared out the window of the café, watched the leaves catapulting from their trees. I tried to recall him, scanned through the file of various men. It wasn’t a vast one, believe me.

And then it registered. Ruben was a trainer I’d met at the Wisconsin Athletic Club. He’d spent two years in Nicaragua working for Habitat for Humanity. Before he left, we’d had a drink at Hi- Hat.

The place was dark, hazy with smoke. He sat at a table with high bar stools.

I sat opposite him, his grin lit up the entire room. My legs dangled in mid-air. “I feel like a doll on these seats.  Or a zoo animal. I’m too short to reach the ground.”

“I like you. You’re funny,” Ruben said. He sipped his cosmopolitan.

He’d ordered Chardonnay for me. I wondered how he knew white wine was my preference. “Thanks for the wine,” I said. “Cheers.” We clinked glasses.

I wasn’t sure he could understand me, but I didn’t care. “Really? You think I’m funny? I think I’m depressing,” I said, thinking we should have gone to my place. I wanted to tell him I was engaged to the wrong guy. Wanted to mention there was a strong possibility I was pregnant. But I didn’t. Just stared at his perfect eyebrows.

Now, married with two kids, and barreling toward divorce, I sighed. The wind had picked up outside, swirling the leaves up toward their former branches. I glanced back at his text, bit the inside of my lip. Should I delete it?


About Robert Vaughan

Originally from NY, Robert leads week long National writing retreats at sites like Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Synergia Ranch, and EarthRise IONS. His poems and fiction are published in over 500 print and online magazines, such as Necessary Fiction, BlazeVOX, Los Angeles Weekly, Literary Orphans and Smokelong Quarterly. He is Editor-in-Chief at (b)OINK magazine and leads round- tables for Redoak Writing in Milwaukee. He is six times a Pushcart Prize Nominee and his fiction and poetry have won awards, including a Micro-Fiction runner-up (2012) and twice a finalist in the Gertrude Stein Fiction Award (2013-14). His books are: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps); Addicts & Basements (Civil Coping Mechanisms); RIFT, co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press), and FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press).
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10 Responses to The Message from Ruben

  1. Kerry says:

    Hmmmm. This one has definate possibilities…

  2. Bernini's Lover says:

    At once, both feelings of excited possibility of passion and the reality of life-choice despair! Go with this one, I want to know more.

  3. Dez says:

    You have this uncanny ability to create protagonists who are in the throes of transitions, changes that might affect their lives with great consequences. Yet, you so casually create them they seem all the more real. Wow, how do you do it?

  4. Shari says:

    A great contrast between the back story and the present conflicts in this woman’s life. And Ruben, can you send one of him my way? In all seriousness…I would like to see you develop this one more. Has great potential.

  5. Tom Froehlich says:

    As always I love your dialogue, but I’m noticing a pattern: “Man reappears from the past, I’m now involved with someone else, is it too late for us” storyline. The best part was the “mystery text”.

  6. david says:

    more please

  7. carolyn says:

    love this….sitting on the barstools…..

  8. Angela says:

    Completely transported by these few lines.
    I was sitting in the cafe wondering if I should
    delete the message as well 🙂
    Love being plugged in to your art, sir.
    Love you too.

  9. Angie says:

    Your writing reflects your knowledge of “life’s twists and turns.” I like it!

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