A Lesson on Listening – A Short Story

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”

– Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Suzie was preparing to type on her laptop. The library didn’t open for another hour so she’d made peace with bunking down at the local Wetherspoons to get some writing done before heading over there. She had deadlines and was easily distracted at home. Here she could click away get unlimited cups of tea and there was wifi should she need it. It wasn’t the best, but it would do. Cuppa ready, books out, she began to type.

“Roy that is so outrageous!” Came a rather loud woman’s voice entered through the venue door. Followed by one of those too-loud laughs.

“I’m telling you the truth, Maisie.” The man followed behind her declaring.

“Ooh what a scandal”. Maisie cackled again and Suzie felt her fingernails dig into her hand.

“Oh look. Let’s sit over here, it’s nice and quiet and plenty of room for when the others arrive.” Suzie quickly looked up to see Maisie wafting her hand in Suzie’s general direction. Lord NO, please don’t sit here, please don’t sit here. Now Maisie couldn’t take her eyes off them.

“Sure” Roy shrugged and within seconds they were sitting at the next table.

“So, she met George in prison?” Maisie’s loud voice questioned. What? Suzie had to admit she was intrigued.

“Well, sort of. She was attending with the church, support and all that kind of stuff, and soon they got talking. Then one thing led to another.”

Ignore them, Suzie. You are here to get work done. Take a swig of tea and get on with it.

“And now Ethel’s missing?”

Gulp! Friggin hell. It’s a murder.

“Yup that’s what I’ve been told. Police have been called and all that but apparently there’s no trace.”

Suzie hadn’t realised it but she was now instinctively leaning closer to the neighbouring booth.  The doors to the Pub opened again and a rather handsome gentleman entered. Suzie sat back straight but in doing so knocked some of her papers to the floor. The gentlemen quickly walked over and bent down to help pick them up.  

“Thanks,” Suzie said and blushed a little.

“Oh George, there you are!” Maisie’s screeching voice came out.

“Hi Maisie,” Mr Handsome, clearly George answered. Then winked at Suzie handing her the last of her papers. Taking them off him. Suzie nodded then began to hastily push everything as fast as she could into her bag. She couldn’t be sitting on the next table from a killer, and what was that wink all about? Crap, she’d be next. She tried to quickly put her coat on then realised she had it inside out. Frick. Starting over she got it on and then the zip wouldn’t go up. What was wrong with her?

George seemed to take the hint and made his way to the booth with Maisie and Roy.

“Oh so sad, we heard all about Ethel.” Maisie’s voice penetrated the air once more.

Things packed Suzie made her way to the door. One quick glance back just to memorise George’s looks in case she needed it for a police fit later.

“Yeah, that damn cat has caused no end of heartache for Lynn. It’s back now though. All’s well that end’s well I suppose.” George said.

Suzie stepped out the door and made her way to the library steps to spend the next twenty minutes out in the cold waiting. That’ll teach me.

Listen with Curiosity. Speak with Honesty. Act with Integrity. Image by KL Caley

Originally written in response to

  • Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) – Communication
  • FOWC with Fandango –

Take Care.