Very short stories #46

A couple of weeks ago, something peculiar happened: my mobile phone rang 👀 . Barely anyone has my number, and I hardly ever make calls. Yes, I’m really that sociable! As one does, I picked it up and said, “Hello?” and some automated voice told me to “Press 1 for”—and then I hung up again. I don’t know who was calling (other than some organisation I didn’t want to waste my time with), but the incident got me thinking about how I answer calls.

Up until my early twenties, I’d answer the phone and say, “xxx-xxxx” (the telephone number). I guess in those days, phones didn’t typically have displays, so that confirmed to the caller what number they had just dialled. Once I started working, I’d typically answer with my name and role, eg, “Dr Thaung, on-call ophthalmologist speaking.” I’d probably still be doing that today, but although I have 2 phones in my room at work, neither of them is actually functional. (IT spent hours configuring them a couple of years back, but had to admit defeat. I’m not complaining…)

So why have I become I so terse when receiving calls these days? Maybe it’s because I only expect people already in my address book to phone, in which case of course their name would show on the screen. If it’s an unknown number, 95% of the time it’s someone trying to sell something or scam me or… And in that case, the safe thing to do is not to offer any clues about my identity.

At least, that’s how I rationalise my change in “telephone manners” although this was never a conscious decision. How do you answer calls from unknown numbers? Has your approach changed over the years?

Book reviews

You might have noticed me linking to book reviews on LibraryThing rather than Goodreads. I’m posting reviews on both platforms and will continue to do so, but I prefer LibraryThing’s less cluttered interface. As part of my Fediverse explorations, I’ve also started posting on a Bookwyrm instance which may (eventually) turn into my favoured platform. We’ll see 🙂
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
The Dragon’s Path: Book 1 of The Dagger and the Coin by Daniel Abraham
Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea by Rebecca Thorne
Small Miracles by Olivia Atwater
Murder: The Biography by Kate Morgan
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Very short stories


Woman holding loot, cheerfully walking away from a crevice where her partner is stuck

As the snarls grew closer, Slippery Mike grunted. “I’m stuck!”
Honest Pat watched him from the other side of the narrowing gap. “So you are. I warned you about middle-age spread.”
“You came this way deliberately!” Mike wriggled, but couldn’t get free. “Traitor!”
Claws scraped on the tunnel floor.
“That’s why you bought me all those sweets!”
“Not my fault you’re a glutton, friend.” Snatching the loot bag from Mike’s frantic hands, Pat strolled away.


A cat-man standing by a lake, trying to use a fishing rod

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. On the other hand, teach a cat to fish and say goodbye to your ornamental pond’s residents.


In a kitchen, a woman with a pained expression holds one hand over her mouth

Mozzarella cheese,
Searing the roof of your mouth.
Caution speaks too late.


Well-dressed human in a tank of murky water that nearly reaches her neck, with a couple of tentacled aliens saying hello to her

My assistant oozed up to me and murmured, “Their Interplanetary Liaison has arrived.”
“Already?” I blinked. Too late to study their customs.
“I put xem in the receiving tank.”
“Ah… good. I’ll go there now.” My mantle fluttered as I took a deep breath and shaped my mouthparts around, “Geetings, hooman.”

2 thoughts on “Very short stories #46

  1. I get a minimum of 5 solicitation or scam calls a week. It fell from over 50 a week, less than a month ago for a duration of at least two years. I quickly got to the point of letting my answering machine answer my calls, unless I recognized the number calling. IF it was a blocked or unwritten number, a quick raising of the handset up then dropped down was their answer. I have joined the two book review sites you mentioned and so far I am not duly impressed. However, I AM an old codger and do resist change. I already leave identical reviews on Amazon, Bookbub, and GoodReads, so maybe my imprint is already heavy enough. *Grin*


    1. 50 a week? Yikes. I’d stop answering the phone totally! Fortunately (maybe), most of my junk comes as emails, which are easy enough to filter out.

      I like following your reviews. You’re a far more prolific reader than I am, so you give me plenty of choices with what to add to my TBR pile 🙂


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