So, there I was, minding my own business when I heard a strange noise. It didn’t help I was watching a zombie marathon on cable, and I was alone. And it was midnight. And I had all the lights off. And it had seemed eerily quite all day long.
When I heard the sound, I jumped. I mean, really jumped, and my heart started racing. I looked around, trying to discern where the sound was coming from. RING! Oh, damn. My new cell phone was dying. As I tried to get my pounding heart under control, I paused the movie, and got up to plug-in my phone. RING! “I’m coming. I’m coming. Hold on,” I thought. I dug around in my purse for a few minutes and finally my hands hit pay dirt. As I pulled it out, I slid it open, and looked at the bars of battery. Huh. Weird. It wasn’t dead.
I did a double take at the phone in my hand. It didn’t look like it had alerted me to anything, but I could have sworn the sound came from the phone. Where else could it have come from? I couldn’t be sure, but the battery didn’t look low, I didn’t have a missed call, and no texts, and something had made that beeping sound. Maybe it was coming from outside? I went to my door and warily peeked outside through the peephole. Maybe someone was creeping around out there and it was HIS cell phone making the sound. “That has to be it,” I thought. “I should call the police.” I looked down at the phone I was clutching in my hand. I slid it open again, and gasped. It was dead.
I dropped the phone. It had definitely rang that time. But it was dead, right? I looked around frantically. All of a sudden I felt like someone or something was watching me. The light from the television changed as the DVR went into stand-by mode, washing the room in blue light. I gingerly picked up the phone again. It was still open, and I shook it. Hard. It lit up.
I gathered my wits about me. “Goddamn Amazon,” I grumbled. “Serves me right for buying a used phone online. It has to be just some glitch. Reset the damn thing and start over.” I turned off the phone, turned it over and fumbled around with the back panel. My hands were shaking pretty bad, but I managed to get the SIM card out. I waited a few seconds, replaced it, and turned the phone back on.
I went to the menu and clicked “Return to Factory Settings.” At the prompt, I clicked “Yes” while I muttered, “Not only yes, but Hell Yes.” It took a while, but it soon went through its thing, and it was done. I set it down carefully on the counter. I stared at it. Eventually, the screen went black, and I jumped. Nothing. No sounds. No beeping. I sighed and started to giggle.
“Well, there is NO way I am watching anything else on TV unless it is an infomercial on DR Trimmers.” I headed to the bedroom and crawled into bed. I pulled the covers way over my head and curled into a ball in the center of the bed. After awhile, I fell asleep.
I shot up out of a deep sleep. I scrambled out of the bed, ran to the kitchen counter where I had left the phone, and grabbed it. I slid it open, and on the screen it said I had a text and a voice mail. I hadn’t heard the phone ring, nor had I heard my text notification ring. How the hell could I have a text message AND a voice mail and I never heard my phone make a sound?
I checked the text message. It read: “Y did U leave? The tide is coming N! Y didn’t U save me? I didn’t mean 2 hurt U. Please. Help!”
Odd. The tide? I live hundreds of miles from the ocean. Obviously, this was a wrong number. I decided to check the voice mail.
“Hey, I was wondering if you could get a message to my dad. It’s really important. You are my only connection to him, and I don’t know who else to talk to about this. Can you tell him I am worried about him? It has been a while since I spoke to him last. Please let him know that I am thinking about him.”
That was it. No names, or anything. “Who the hell is your dad, and how the hell am I supposed to know who he is?” This was getting too weird.
I looked at the phone, and there was another voice mail. Why isn’t the damn thing ringing? Did I turn the ringer off by accident? I checked my voice mail again. This time it was a familiar voice. One I hadn’t heard in quite some time. My brother.
“Kat? It’s me. I know we haven’t talked in a long time, but I just now got the opportunity to call. I love you, and I just really wanted you to know that, OK? Everything is going to be fine. Keep the phone. Do not get rid of it. It might drive you a little bonkers once in a while, but I will be able to help you if you keep it, OK? Take care. I love you. Bye.”
I slid the phone shut and shook my head in disbelief. My brother had been dead for 15 years. To hear his voice now was a shock to the system. I raised my head, and smiled.
Slowly, I went to the garage and opened the garage door. I placed the phone on the ground beneath my car, between the tires. I got in, put it in reverse and backed out of the garage. I looked up and saw the phone in pieces, plastic everywhere. I put the car in drive and pulled forward. I heard another satisfying crunch. I turned the car off, got out, and started sweeping the bits up.
I didn’t even pause. Just kept sweeping. I knew as soon as I got the pieces swept up, everything would be ok. I was just imagining things, imagining my brother talking to me from the great beyond. I dumped the plastic bits in a garbage sack and got back in the car. It was still late, and the sky was black with night, and I was the only person on the road.
I stopped near the dumpster of a 7-11. I got out without shutting the ignition off, tossed the bag into the dumpster and got back in. I loved my brother. Very much. But there is no way I was keeping that wretched phone anywhere near me. And as I drove off, I know I heard it.