Try this on for analysis. A new flash fiction by Joyce Carol Oates from tny.
The husband had got into the habit of calling the wife from somewhere in the house—if she was upstairs, he was downstairs; if she was downstairs, he was upstairs—and when she answered, “Yes? What?,” he would continue to call her, as if he hadn’t heard and with an air of strained patience: “Hello? Hello? Where are you?” And so she had no choice but to hurry to him, wherever he was, elsewhere in the house, downstairs, upstairs, in the basement or outside on the deck, in the back yard or in the driveway. “Yes?” she called, trying to remain calm. “What is it?” And he would tell her—a complaint, a remark, an observation, a reminder, a query—and then, later, she would hear him calling again with a new urgency, “Hello? Hello? Where are you?,” and she would call back, “Yes? What is it?,” trying to determine where he was. He would continue to call, not hearing her, for he disliked wearing his hearing aid around the house, where there was only the wife to be heard. He complained that one of the little plastic devices in the shape of a snail hurt his ear, the tender inner ear was reddened and had even bled, and so he would call, pettishly, “Hello? Where are you?”—for the woman was always going off somewhere out of the range of his hearing, and he never knew where the hell she was or what she was doing; at times, her very being exasperated him—until finally she gave in and ran breathless to search for him, and when he saw her he said reproachfully, “Where were you? I worry about you when you don’t answer.” And she said, laughing, trying to laugh, though none of this was funny, “But I was here all along!” And he retorted, “No, you were not. You were not. I was here, and you were not here.” And later that day, after his lunch and before his nap, unless it was before his lunch and after his nap, the wife heard the husband calling to her, “Hello? Hello? Where are you?,” and the thought came to her, No. I will hide from him. But she would not do such a childish thing. Instead she stood on the stairs and cupped her hands to her mouth and called to him, “I’m here. I’m always here. Where else would I be?” But the husband couldn’t hear her and continued to call, “Hello? Hello? Where are you?,” until at last she screamed, “What do you want? I’ve told you, I’m here.” But the husband couldn’t hear and continued to call, “Hello? Where are you? Hello!,” and finally the wife had no choice but to give in, for the husband was sounding vexed and angry and anxious. Descending the stairs, she tripped and fell, fell hard, and her neck was broken in an instant, and she died at the foot of the stairs, while in one of the downstairs rooms, or perhaps in the cellar, or on the deck at the rear of the house, the husband continued to call, with mounting urgency, “Hello? Hello? Where are you?”