The story starts on a Wednesday morning. The sun is rising over the horizon, contemplating whether to shine pleasantly or scorch everything from rage because the previous day someone had said that it looked bigger. Sun doesn’t like people pointing out its size. It’s not the carbs, it’s just summer, Sun believes. The birds are outside, singing their songs as usual, making merry, oblivious of the fact that at least five of them will not make it to the next day, since they will have become the meal of some stealthy cat. The leaves on the trees sway in rhythm to the morning breeze. At least, that’s what they want you to think. The leaves are actually trembling in fear because fall begins in a few weeks. Their lush green shall become a rusty brown and they shall be added to the compost heap after some minutes of having children frolic in them and a few girls take pictures of them and upload them to their Instagram with the caption ‘dead leaves on fleek‘ accompanied by a slew of hashtags that gradually become more ridiculous and unrelated to the photo.
Our hero is in his bedroom, but he isn’t asleep. He’s awake because he didn’t go to bed in the first place. He was up all night doing research on Jerry Seinfeld. As soon as he sees sunlight through his curtains he walks to his table. He picks up his phone and switches it on. Our hero has been busy for a while, thus was unable to keep in touch with people. He decided to let his messages pile up so he could chain-read them like a novel. He wonders what has happened during that time. Maybe his brother (the other one) finally got that crazy hairstyle he always talked about. Maybe his crush finally made the first move. Maybe someone sent him a video that he hadn’t already seen six months before on Reddit.
The phone starts up, he opens his messenger only to find it blank. Blank as the day he first took it away from its original owner, blank as his answer sheets from high school, blank as his mind would be if Demi Lovato asked him his name. All his messages are gone, including the ones from before. After a lot of frantic clicking, he discovers that he has also lost the numbers in his phone book as well as most of his files possibly due to an error during software update. It is at this point that he enters what psychologists with the papers call the five stages of grief.
Hero refuses to believe that everything’s gone. He thinks of all the records on the phone of people who owe him favors among other things (read: money).
Everything can’t be gone, not after he put that much effort into it. Not after he put so much of his personality into it. He remembers all those hours he spent on that phone, all those nights he stayed up late texting. He remembers the time he had invested in planning and executing complex plots that end in his favor, like that time he
tricked someone into going out with him by setting up a bet over several months that only he could win, but made it appear like he couldn’t convinced someone to go out with him by asking nicely.
He remembers that opening line he used that one time, the one he keeps re-reading while conceitedly smiling to himself saying “John Legend couldn’t touch this”. It’s no longer there. He can’t find it when he needs it to give him hope.
He remembers what he went through to get some of the numbers that were on that phone. He remembers that time he almost hurt himself with a pen while trying to write a girl’s number on his sweaty arms, how he believed it was worth it because the girl had great legs, yo! He becomes even more restless as he considers the possibility that he may never see those shapely legs again.
I can’t have lost everything. I can’t! Hero thinks to himself. Surely, that much information must have been saved somewhere else online. All he needed to do was connect to the Internet and the messages would restore themselves. But there it was, the blankness, still staring back at him. Slowly, fury builds up until he gets to. . .
Hero is very enraged now. He is very worked up. How dare these people let something like this happen. How dare they release a phone that’s not immune to data loss. What were they paying all their programmers and scientists and whoever else is involved in making phones for? The company has been operating for over a hundred years. There’s memes all over the Internet devoted to how this particular brand is indestructible – why doesn’t the same durability extend to the phone’s storage? This company is clearly not fit to do anything at all. No wonder their stock’s value on the New York Stock Exchange just dropped again.
Hero contemplates taking legal action. He doesn’t want to hire a lawyer because those people are expensive, so he thinks of befriending someone who goes to law school so he can get them to sue as a favor.
He feels that a law suit by itself is too weak. He thinks he’ll personally stab the engineers and every tech-savvy person he can find in their not-debugging-software-correctly hands. But then again, he can’t blame the engineers fully. They’re probably pawns in the large chess game that is corporate capitalism. . .
Maybe they couldn’t have done anything about it because of budget cuts that affected research to provide snappier suits for the company’s bosses. Maybe they didn’t notice the problem altogether. After all, to err is human.
Wait a minute, Hero thinks to himself. Is that it? Is that the lesson you wanted me to learn? Was all this just the Universe trying to teach me empathy? Is there more?
Hero starts thinking hard.
“If you give me my texts back, I promise I’ll create a backup and update it regularly”
“If you give me my texts back, I promise to only have meaningful conversations about philosophy and stuff instead of potatoes and pet rabbits. I have learned all these lessons that you wanted to teach me. I am ready to start life as a new me!”
He checks his phone eagerly, only to see that the blankness is still there. He feels weak. He tries to have a seat but his chair is too far from him so he lies on the floor fighting back tears. . .
Hero knows what comes with these kinds of situations. He doesn’t feel like explaining over and over how he lost his texts. He doesn’t want to deal with those people who say things like “you’ve been so quiet. Have you forgotten about me?” when the truth is that he just lost their numbers. He doesn’t feel like arguing the same thing repeatedly. He knows that starting from scratch with some people is going to be hard, since he can’t remember where he left off with everybody.
He knows that this incident will draw out people who will tell him to upgrade to a phone with ‘better’ features even though all other brands have screens that are designed to crack easily. He doesn’t feel like trying to make these people understand that there’s only one type of phone he can use comfortably and that he doesn’t want to get accustomed to typing on the others.
Hero sighs. It’s no use crying over spilt Sprite. . .
The texts are gone. He didn’t make backups, they weren’t saved elsewhere, there’s nothing anyone could do.
On the bright side, Hero could recreate most of the things he’d lost. He could still give reasons for why he believes Batman can beat any* superhero/villain. What he couldn’t recreate wasn’t important. It’s not like there were any texts from anybody declaring their undying love anyway, so the loss wasn’t too great.
Some of the texts that were lost weren’t exactly representations of his best moments. Maybe now he’ll be able to get over those texts that said horrifying things. He’ll be free of groups because they didn’t give a notification when he left. Those groups with their endless repetitive debates, those ‘send to 10 friends and watch the magic!!!’ type chain texts, annoying people from his childhood, the administrator that won’t let him leave – all gone. He is especially relieved that he doesn’t have to silently and uncomfortably watch a group chat where there’s flirting involving his crush.
Maybe this wasn’t so bad after all. Clean slate seems good.
Hero changes his status to reveal that he lost everything and that people should send him their numbers. The first message comes in, “How did you lose the contacts? I told you you have to get rid of that thing you call a phone. I’ve seen this great deal online. . .” Hero reads it, closes his eyes and falls back to step four while fighting back tears.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Journey.”