The non-participatory clause

Stage phoning, apparently, is the act of pretending that you're calling someone, done especially when you're in public, sometimes to highlight the lack of privacy in the world nowadays.

Nice concept, he thought, when he pulled out his phone and started reading text message. Maybe, he thought, there's such a thing as stage texting. Pretending to text, pretty much.

All he did was unlock the phone, check his inbox, and scroll down the hundred or so messages that are in it.

It was unusually quiet, especially since it should be a pretty hectic day. He shouldn't be fiddling with his phone in the first place. He should be busy doing what he has to do: listen to people. But nobody's talking. Or at least, nobody that he wants to listen to. He'd rather remain quiet, he figured.

She wasn't. She used to be, but she isn't anymore.

He thought it was very unlikely. An irritating thought, peppered with laughter, or the sound of heavy breathing, something he never heard before, as he scrolled down his inbox, rereading messages from a month ago. It's idle talk they say he would have if he waited it out, or tried not to offend.

Fool-proof, but apparently not. Better make a hypothetical wall with masking tape.

But, he figured, there's no such thing as a non-participatory clause. He had to deal with the terrible speaking, or at least live with the cracking voice, and join in, at least to keep up appearances.

He didn't. Well, actually he did without trying and nothing happened.

"They're imbeciles," said message number 26. "They have a metal detector..."

Well, he figured, it actually fits. Or he's trying to put himself above the third basement, but that's thinking too much. The lack of privacy, if he didn't keep it to himself. He did, fortunately.

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