Mostly Wondering if She Left Her Phone On by Randall Brown

I tell her I can’t sit in the front row, that I have this fear I’ll jump on the stage. She makes a Mad Magazine sound—swizap—and sits front middle. I sit behind her.  She turns around as the lights dim, says, “It’s the actors, you know, who should be scared.” I whisper back, “Scared of me.” That unseats her, makes her restless as if she believes I might go up there. Imagine my whispering to her throughout until she has to stand up and shout Stop it!—and everything would have to. That would be irony. Can you yell irony in a crowded theatre? They’re putting on Mexican masks. What compels some thoughts into action, others not? Fear or sense? Stay in character. How many times must they tell themselves such a thing each act—ten—a hundred? Oh, another night ruined.  If I could see inside her mind, what might be on it?

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11 Responses to “Mostly Wondering if She Left Her Phone On by Randall Brown”

  1. Curly Red says:

    My favorite line is your last line. I felt his X-ray questions throughout. And all set in such a colorful, intriguing scene!

  2. Meg says:

    I like the way that the final line works with the title. Very cool.

  3. Nicole Monaghan says:

    I agree with Meg. Your circular titles inspire me to try the same with my pieces. I’ve stolen your title technique! Also, what a great line: “What compels some thoughts into action, others not?” seems like what this story is about, the flash of the flash.

  4. Donna Hole says:

    “What compels some thoughts into action, others not? Fear or sense? Stay in character.” This is what gripped me in this story. Stay in character feels like the way life is, no matter where a person is or what they are doing. It just strikes me as a profound thought.


  5. Autumn says:

    “Can you yell irony in a crowded theatre?” Great line. I remember this one, Randall. Good job!

  6. Rich Grohowski says:

    What I like best about this piece is the undercurrent of nervous energy running through it. The unpredictability of “will he/won’t he” is like reverse stage-fright. The image of actors’ stage-faces as “Mexican masks” (like the wrestlers?) hiding their own inner thoughts works really well too. I’d imagine this being familiar to anyone who faces the public: sales clerks, waiters, barristas, HR people.

  7. Benjamin Grossman says:

    Wow, great opening line. That really pulled me into the story. Definitely an interesting fear to have that I wouldn’t have expected. And I love the philosophical underpinnings of this piece:”What compels some thoughts into action, others not? Fear or sense?”

  8. Todd says:

    I tend to enjoy writing that is conscious of place, and how it becomes dis-located. This piece for me hinges on the idea of the front row. Throughout the rest of it, I worry about it. I am trying throughout this to place the primaries, in a very geographical sense. A good use of title to alert me to what may be said.

  9. Meg Harris says:

    Yes, anxious, again RB gives a view into the vast experience of a few moments.

  10. laurel Kahaner says:

    Hi Randall,

    Mostly wondering how you conjured so many layers into Mostly Wondering. I enjoy being introduced to a Flash that initiates me more deeply into its world each time I read the story.

    Your story makes me think of how rare it is to wish to go out on a second date, even if the first date was enjoyable. What is it that makes one wish to read a flash many times, or wish to discover more about a person, again and again.

    Thanks for the read,
    and the many reads of your story.



  11. Tara says:

    I like the narrator’s sense of restlessness and how that is captured by the language and sentence rhythm here. There is a humor, and yet it goes deeper into fears and worries as well. Nicely done. I think this is my favorite of the two, but the other one is killer, too.

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