This is the prompt that has inspired me to write this piece: “You get a phone call from a wrong number, but instead of it ending there, you two begin exchanging messages late at night while the rest of the world sleeps.”
My friends have also written their own versions of the story. I’ll share the links to their stories at the end of this post.
My life changed a lot around two weeks ago when I received a phone call. I was cutting bell pepper and mushrooms for dinner when my phone started ringing. I looked at my phone’s screen with the knife still in my left hand. I didn’t recognize the number so I didn’t answer. I didn’t think much about it just then. I put the knife down, grabbed the remote control and put some music on before continuing with dinner.
After doing the dishes, I sat down to read a book and checked my phone. There was another missed call, from the same random number. I must have missed it during the mini-concert as I was cooking. I didn’t pay much attention to it and opened my book. Two pages in, I started looking at my phone and considered texting the person. I pushed the thoughts back and read another page or so before giving up to my curiosity. I grabbed my phone, unlocked it, found the mystery number and started typing, “Hello, you called me?” and hit SEND.
Five minutes later my phone’s screen lit up. There was a reply from the random number: “Hi there! And you didn’t answer.”
Hmm weird, but let’s see who this person is.
“Do we know each other?” was my reply.
“Maybe yes, and maybe no.”
It started to feel a bit creepy, so I texted, “Who are you?”
“I’m just an earthling :D”
This is ridiculous! I shook my head. After that I decided not to play whatever games this person was playing. When the stranger noticed I wasn’t going to answer, my phone received another text. It was, “I think we started off on the wrong foot, sorry about that. I’m Will.”
I closed my book. Maybe Will had something to say. “You called me twice, care to explain why?”
“I got a new phone today, and I’ve lost all my contacts. I realized that I called you accidentally.”
I appreciated his explanation and after exchanging a couple more messages we said our goodbyes.
* * *
There was a boring meeting at work the next day. Two long hours spent listening to something I already knew. My boss was talking about our company’s sales for the month and I was yawning. Luckily, my phone started buzzing. To my surprise, it was a text from Will, the random guy from the previous evening.
“Good morning 🙂 Here is a link to a song I think you might like.”
It was a song by Avicii called “The Nights”. I knew it. In fact, it was the first song I listened to last night while cooking. I didn’t know what to make of the message, so I texted him, “What’s the occasion?”
“To apologize for bothering you last night.”
I smiled and locked my phone. It was another long hour before the meeting was finished and I was back at my desk. Only then did I text Will back.
“Don’t worry about it.”
Will and I texted back and forth throughout the day. It was fun and fresh. We didn’t know each other, so there were no restrictions. I didn’t feel as though I was pressured to text him back nor did I wait for his messages. This was just a random person sending random texts and ideas.
Our text conversation lasted for a good week. By the end of it I was curious to see him in person. I asked if we could meet. He told me he’d let me know when he was available. It’s odd, because although we talked a lot, we never talked about personal matters and respected each other’s boundaries. There were times when he asked odd things, but when I told him they were personal, he didn’t ask about them again. I liked that about Will.
* * *
One evening, I was sitting beside my plants, watering and wiping them. “Bad Habits” by Ed Sheeran was playing on my phone and I was singing along. Just then I got a text from Will.
My eyes went through this text a few times. I felt my heart beat faster than usual. I gently dropped my phone and tried to calm myself down. Take it easy. I took a couple of deep breaths, grabbed my phone and unlocked it. To make sure what I was doubting was just a doubt, I needed to do a quick search. I tapped the magnifier icon to search the conversation and typed in my own name. The result was as I had suspected. There was only one result, from his latest text. I had never told Will what my name was.
Before I could do anything, however, there was a follow-up message. “Have you heard Ed Sheeran’s new song? ‘Bad Habits’.”
“What in Hell…?!” I asked myself. I didn’t want to show my worries, so I texted back, “Yes, I love it!”
I quickly walked to my desk. I opened my laptop and looked up his phone number. No results. I couldn’t look him up anywhere else because I only had his first name.
I called the telecommunication company his phone number was registered with. A lady answered me and asked how she could help me. I made up an excuse and asked her to check the number.
“Just a second ma’am.”
A few moments later, the voice on the other end told me, “Are you sure you’ve given me the right phone number?”
“Yes. Why?” I said in a worried tone.
“This number is not registered. It’s not used.” she announced.
Disappointed, I sat down in front of my laptop. My throat was very dry, but my brain was too busy for me to drink. I couldn’t process it. A week or so earlier that phone number had called me twice, and I’d been texting Will ever since. Not only that, he knew my name without me telling him.
I called one of my close friends who was good with tech. “Hey Cathy, how are you?”
Cathy told me she was doing fine and asked how I was doing in her usual happy tone.
Biting my nails, I told her, “I’m fine, too. But, umm, I have some phone-related problems. Can we meet?”
Two hours later, I was at a coffee shop waiting for Cathy. Once she arrived, I got up and gave her a hug.
“Long time no see El. How are you?” she said with her energetic smile.
We caught up over two glasses of iced coffee and a slice of cheesecake.
“So tell me, what’s up with your phone?”
I told her everything. The missed calls, the texts, the songs, him knowing my name. Cathy was equally shocked. She said, “Oh my God! That’s so creepy! I’m sorry you’re going through this. We’ve got to do something about it.”
I told her that I was a bit freaked out. Then she asked me, “Can I have a look at your phone?”
I handed her my phone. She went through it. I couldn’t read Cathy’s expressions.
“Eleanor, are you sure that these things happened?” she was concerned.
“Yes, I am. Why?” My confused gaze went back and forth between her and the phone.
“There are no calls or texts from that number.” She put the phone on the table to show me.
“What do you mean? How could it be?” I started to panic. I took the phone and, as Cathy had stated, there was nothing from this number.
She held my hand and tilted her head, then asked, “Have you been taking your pills?”
I pulled my hand away from her and sat back. My eyes were filled with tears. I put my hand on my mouth. “No,” I replied. With that answer the tears started rolling down. Cathy moved her chair next to me. “Hey girl, it’s okay. I’m here.”
She pulled me into a hug as I sobbed, “Shh… I’m here, like always.”
I felt safe with Cathy around. She drove me back home. That night, she cooked for me, made sure I had my pills, then put me to bed. She decided to stay the night just in case.
Apparently, I had made Will up in my head. Without my pills to help me to prevent it. This had happened a couple of times within the previous six years, and Cathy had always been there for me.
* * *
A little after midnight, I woke up. I stayed there with my eyes closed. I was hearing voices, at first I thought I was dreaming, but then I realized it was Cathy talking on the phone.
“Yeah, she is asleep now.” There was a little pause, then she said, “I deleted the texts myself, Will. She didn’t even doubt me. Especially after I mentioned her pills.”
Hearing all the things she said not only surprised me, it hurt me. My stomach felt weird. I’d known Cathy for more than seven years. It was she who had suggested that I see a shrink after my dad had passed away. The realization of this hit me like a train. The shrink was her boyfriend, and he was the person who had prescribed me the pills. I was lost in those thoughts when Cathy’s voice brought me back to the present. I was still shocked at what I’d just heard. I had to do something, but I wasn’t sure what. I need evidence. I quietly unlocked my phone to record her voice. It was the only thing that I could think of.
“I checked the cameras, they are all working just fine.” Another pause. “I know we have wasted seven years of our lives, but we need to be a bit more patient. It’s ten million dollars that we’re talking about.” She sounded restless. “I’ll go to sleep now. Let’s talk tomorrow.”
They were after my father’s money! Like hell they’ll get it! In the midst of my confusion, I remembered the shrink’s name, Cathy’s boyfriend’s name: it was William! I couldn’t sleep for the rest of that night. The only solution I could think of was to go to the police first thing after Cathy left and tell them everything.
You can check out my friends’ stories through the following links: