115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Wrong Number

Dee Horne, University of Northern British Columbia

I am a professor in the English Department at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, B.C. I write poetry and have published numerous poems in literary journals. Currently, I am writing satirical short stories about how we use technology. This story is part of this collection. Mahalo.


Her phone vibrated across the bed like a jumping bean.


Who would be calling her at this hour?

 “Heh Luce,” a male voice said.

“This isn’t Luce,” she said coldly. She looked at the call display: 902. “Luce used to have this number but has a new number. I suggest you contact Luce and get it.”

Silence. Then a chuckle, “K. You’re in for some interesting conversations.” The caller, who according to the area code was somewhere in Halifax, said, “sorry,” and hung up.

She wondered what that meant? What did this Luce person do anyway?

She turned her phone off and went to sleep.


“Yo, Luce, want to meet in the parking lot?”

She sighed, and texted: “wrong #”


Ever since she’d gotten this new phone, she’d been getting Luce messages from Halifax. She was in Vancouver and clearly Luce had been at one point. She cursed this phantom woman for not telling her friends her new number.


She checked the time on her phone. It was three a.m. in Halifax. Who meets in a parking lot at this hour? She pictured Luce delivering drugs in a parking lot down by the ferry terminal.


“Luce, I’ve picked out my dress!” her screen flashed.

She wanted to write: “Bet it’s ugly.” Instead, she texted: “Not Luce. Pls get new #.”


She imagined this was Luce’s bridesmaid, and pictured the wedding. Probably a big affair with bridesmaids who giggled and wore flamboyant dresses in outrageous colours. Their hairstyles would be modelled after Kim Kardashian and they would have spent hundreds of dollars at a salon getting just the right look. What kind of conversations would they have?


She sighed. Her frustration with getting Luce’s calls was making her far too testy. She was being judgmental and making unfair assumptions. All because her phone had the same number as a person she knew nothing about, or almost nothing. She knew Luce had once lived in Vancouver.


After weeks of Luce messages, there was a lull. Good, she thought, Luce has finally told friends the new number and her phone would no longer annoy her. So why was she still thinking about Luce? Wondering who and what this phantom did? She found herself missing the calls. Not a good sign. She reminded herself to get out more.

A week later, over Christmas, while her son was visiting, she received another text message:

“Luce, I’m at the airport and I miss you so much. My life will never be the same. I love you and can’t live without you. I’m sorry for last night.”

Her son, leaned over her shoulder and read her phone. He laughed, grabbed her phone, and texted what sounded like too lengthy a response for that message. Still her son had a flair for the absurd.

“That should stop her from contacting you again,” he laughed, handing her back her phone.