short story:

A text message? At this hour? How unusual.

But really, it was not.

She was used to late-night contact. She had even begun to like it. And that, too, was not unusual.

What would be unusual would be if the contact stopped. If she was never aroused from her sleep by the sound of an electric chime. If she was no longer needed, wanted, or useful.

It was easier to think of it in that way--being needed, wanted and useful. In reality she was not truly needed. She was wanted, perhaps, but a better word for "useful" would be to say she was used.

Yes, she was used. Like a plunger. Undesirable until a crisis arose. And there she would be, sitting, waiting to be used at their convenience. When she did her job--offered the advice they sought, the listening ear they wanted, the hundredth favor with no hope of repayment--she was placed back and forgotten, like that germ-ridden rubber on a wooden handle behind the toilet.

The text was answered by her tired fingers, with her tired head hoping this time it would be different. That this time the plunger would be truly appreciated.

With that thought, she drifted away, awaiting the next time the toilet would back up.

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