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Misread Message

Sometimes it's not what is says

By Debora DyessPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 7 min read

"Hey, Ellie?"

Ellie sighed and glanced at the computer clock. Her deadline to finish this piece was in less than two hours. Since her lunch break, Nate had called her for a glass of water, help to find his glasses, a bowl of soup, help finding the remote (under his pillow), and to act as backup for his trek down the hall to the bathroom. She'd done each patiently, but this time the sound of her husband's voice irritated her.

Scanning the remaining pages, she bit her lip. She had eight left to proofread and this author had some real hum-dingers regarding grammatical errors. She'd made notes in the margins until she thought Spell Check might decide to quit the job, had looked up words that she didn't know and realized they were just that badly misspelled and made every attempt not to yell at the monitor.

She'd started working from home when Nate got too sick to care for himself. And, she reminded herself for the hundredth time that week, it wasn't his fault that his health had failed so quickly. His physical therapist seemed hopeful that his ability to walk confidently, think of the right words when he needed them instead of a day later, and control the shaking in his hands would slowly return.

They had to.

For both their sakes.

She rose, pushed through the door that separated her home office from the bedroom they'd shared for the past 36 years, and smiled. "What's up, babe?"

Nate smiled at her apologetically. "I lost the sheet where you wrote the passwords to all the streaming services. If you'll make me another one, I won't lose it. I promise."

He'd promised the last time. And the time before that. But at least he'd remembered the term 'streaming service' and hadn't called it 'those things' as he had in the past. That showed some improvement.

Ellie smiled. "No problem, honey." She picked up the pad of paper where Nate professed to keep his 'brain' and the pen that lay beside it. But she hesitated, her hand poised over the clean, white sheet.

"Don't tell me you forgot!" Nate laughed. "You're the brains of this operation! If your brain goes, we're like the Titanic..."

"Sunk," they both said together.

"I thought you were going to type them into the, uh, onto a Word document in the, uh..." Nate made a motion toward her office.

"I was. But I didn't. I should remember them, honey. Give me a second." She tapped out the rhythm to Hotel California on the paper, using the pen as a single drumstick. When that didn't help, she looked up at Nate's smiling face. "Sunk," she admitted.

He laughed, mischief filling his features. His sense of humor about life's problems, big and small, attracted her to him in the first place, and she stared at him now, so glad that particular part of him had survived.

"Kayla has the passwords, right? Didn't we give them to her so she could watch TV on these things while she's away at college?"

These things again. But Ellie decided to ignore it. "Yup." She nodded, glad he'd remembered that. "I'll text her and we'll have them in just a few minutes."

"Isn't she in class?"

"No. Tuesdays and Thursdays are her short days. She's back to her dorm by now."

"Probably watching a show on her TV."

Ellie typed out the request, thinking of the terrible article waiting for her attention. She could return to the office and work until they heard back from Kayla...

Instead, Ellie stretched out on the bed next to Nate. When she'd decided to work entirely from home to care for him, it had seemed like a win-win. Now, though, she knew she'd spent far more time working than caring. She could wait here for a few minutes longer and still make the deadline. Probably.

Nate rolled onto his side to face her and smiled. "I do believe you're playing hooky, Mrs. London."

"I do believe you're right, Mr. London."

Nate reached over to take her tiny hand in his. "Your hands are cold," he said, his voice soft and quiet. "Remember when we ran home from work to get into this bed together?"

Ellie felt herself blush. That was ridiculous. They'd been together for more years than they'd been single people. "This isn't the same bed," she said, rolling on her side to see him better.

"That doesn't matter. If I remember correctly, and this time I know I do, it was any bed. Anywhere." He chuckled. "Remember when your parents came home to get the house ready for Christmas because we weren't supposed to get there for another couple of hours? What a surprise!"

Ellie nodded, the pillow beneath her head mussing her hair. "For all four of us."

"How did we get so old, El?"

She only shrugged.

"Time. Lots of days... Lots of years... I love you, Mrs. London."

"I love you, too, Mr. London."

As Nate reached up to stroke her cheek, her phone buzzed. He laughed. "I guess we're not too old to be interrupted by the kids."

"Grandkids," Ellie corrected as she looked at the message. "Here they are..." She picked up the pen and notepad, speaking aloud as she wrote the information down. "Hulu - Every1DanceAHula."


Ellie ignored him. "Netflix - BestPicksOnNetflix1."

"How in the world could we forget that one?" Nate chuckled, his deep, contagious laughter making them both smile.

"And, last but not least, Paramount Plus... Oh..."

"Oh? That's not much of a password, Ellie."

Ellie shook her head and held the phone up for Nathan to examine. "it says, 'I'm so tired of jumping through hoops for you.' " She looked at her husband. "I thought she said it would be fine if we texted her for tech support while she was away. She was always so glad to come over and fix things for us."

Nate shrugged. "I guess you better reset your password. We sure don't want to bug her while she's away at college."

"It's just so unlike her, though." Ellie stared at the screen, hoping she'd misread the text. She had not.

Nate took her other hand, rubbing the back of it softly with his thumb. "She's a college girl now, El. Things are different. We knew they would be. So... Reset the password. It's no big deal. What should the new one be? 'Paramount minus Plus equals nothing?' Or what about, 'Climb the Paramountain to watch TV?' I kind of like that one."

Ellie looked up at him, grateful for his calm manner. Even through all the health scares they'd endured for the past year, he could still navigate the waters of life and make it look easy.

I like that one, too."

But before she could begin to type it in, her phone buzzed again. She opened the message from Kayla and began to giggle.

"What is it?" Nate lifted himself onto an elbow to try and see her phone.

"It says, "'Grandma, that's the Paramount Plus password. It got autocorrected! I didn't want you to think I was tired of helping you and Grandpa. Your password is I'mTiredofJumpingThroughHoops4U!' That made me sound like such a jerk but the jerk is Siri, not me!"

A grin lit up Nate's pale face. "I'm glad she's not a jerk. And that password..."

Ellie lifted one shoulder slightly. "I was getting irritated because it kept rejecting my passwords. Either I didn't have a capital letter or didn't have a number or a special character, or the confirmation password didn't match the original..."

"A horror..." Nate said.

"I'm going to keep this text, though. Then we have them if we lose them again." Ellie glanced at the clock on her phone. The deadline, it seemed to say. She set a timer for half an hour and looked at her husband. "Let's find something short to watch."

"Don't you have to get back to the journalist from hell?"

"Not for 30 minutes. And I'd much rather watch you jump through hoops to find a show that both of us will enjoy." She snuggled close to him, resting her head against his chest, and watched TV, completely content.


About the Creator

Debora Dyess

Start writing...I'm a kid's author and illustrator (50+ publications, including ghostwriting) but LOVE to write in a variety of genres. I hope you enjoy them all!

Blessings to you and yours,


Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (1)

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  • Rayn B4 months ago

    Such a beautiful story! So heartfelt. My only feedback is for the challenge guidelines. I noticed that you used the phrase “reset the password” instead of “reset your password”. I would do a quick edit and change the phrase to “reset your password” just to make sure it follows the guidelines for the challenge, as this is such a solid entry.

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