Monstrous Femme

Tuesday’s Gone

Four weeks ago, on a Monday, I shut the TV off in my living room and went to bed around 11 like any other Monday night.

And when I woke up the next day, it was Wednesday.

I didn’t even realize it was Wednesday until I’d been on the clock for over an hour. I went to the conference room at 10:30, just like I always did on Tuesdays.

When I walked in and sat down, no one else was there. Usually, I was the last one in for the meetings, as I drag my feet a lot and don’t really see the point of “go-getting” at my job. As it was, I thought they were getting ready to fire me anyway. In the six weeks up to that point, I hadn’t hit my sales quota.

After several minutes, I finally left the conference room and walked to my manager’s office. He was sitting in his chair, eyes fixed on his computer monitor.

“Hey Steve!” I said to my boss as he looked up. “Are we having the Tuesday meeting or what?”

Steve stared at me from over his monitor for a few moments. “What the hell are you talking about, Mike?” he finally asked.

I looked at him, confused. “It’s 10:30 on a Tuesday . . .”

“It’s Wednesday. Get back to your desk.” With that, Steve returned to whatever he was doing on his computer.

I stood in his office momentarily as I struggled to remember the day before. I went back to my desk and tried to piece together my Tuesday.

I didn’t remember a single thing about it. Nothing regarding work or what I did when I got home.

The lost Tuesday didn’t affect me that much the rest of the day. I absentmindedly went through the Hardee’s drive-thru for Taco Tuesday and had to pay full price because I forgot it was Wednesday.

The rest of the week was uneventful. I hung out with friends for my buddy Brian’s birthday. I almost didn’t go, but decided I’d at least make an appearance at his house.

He told me he was getting married. Jesus, I never pegged him for a guy to settle down. It’s funny where the time goes when it’s least expected.

We sang some karaoke, and my friend Naomi showed up, too. I’d asked her to come—she made everything . . . better. We’re just friends, but I keep a picture of the two of us together on my desk. It gets me through my rough days at work.

That Wednesday was the best night of my week, though I was bothered that I still couldn’t remember Tuesday.

Otherwise, I went through the motions, which resulted in more goose eggs under my sales quota. I didn’t get a single lead, let alone a sale, and Steve started giving me the evil eye when I saw him around the office. I started taking “extended” lunches to avoid him and my coworkers. Then I played video games when I got home and looked for a used car online—my Kia Soul was giving me problems.

The following Monday, I had the shift from hell. I ended up late to work, and Steve dressed me down in front of everyone. He spent part of the morning pulling my performance numbers from the past two months. He printed them out and read them off in front of all of them. That shook me so hard that I couldn’t even make a call until lunch.

At the very least, I forced enough enthusiasm the rest of the day to make my dial quota. When I got home, I told Naomi about it, and she suggested looking for another job. She wasn’t wrong, but here I am in my thirties and I can’t even hold a phone sales job at this point.

The rest of that Monday night was uneventful. I made myself a TV dinner, played some video games, watched TV, and went to sleep at 11 PM.

The next day, it was Wednesday.

It happened again. I waited for the sales meeting that never came, and then I went to Steve’s office, and he had the same reaction. As I left his office, I heard him mutter under his breath, “At least he was on time today.”

Go to hell, Steve.

I went through the rest of my sales day, about another six-and-a-half hours, trying my best to work through it while feeling a general unease. By the end, I hadn’t generated a single lead, so I drew another zero on the board—my second in three days—and put the dry-erase marker down.

I turned to go back to my desk but did a double take.

My second in three days.

I stared at the board for a few moments.

Under “Tuesday,” someone had marked off three sales leads beneath my name.

Even now, I have to write that someone else wrote those sales leads for Tuesday. But, looking back, it was my handwriting that wrote the number on the board. It had to be. I have terrible handwriting and it’s evident in my particular office when I write a number and when someone else does.

It occurred to me to check both my index card box and the sales program on my computer. Indeed, there was detailed information on three new sales leads in both the computer and box. The leads were written out on the cards in my handwriting.

I was already freaked out that this was now a weekly occurrence.

I put the cards back in the box and looked at the clock. I had about a half-hour of my shift left at this point. I put my headset on and pretended to make sales calls, but I was trying to retrace my steps in my head. I was trying to recall anything from the day before, but all I could remember was going to sleep Monday night.

I looked at the photo I had on my desk of Naomi and me. I decided to call her once I left. And then it was five o’clock—time to go.

I talked to Naomi on the phone for a while when I made it home. I told her about what happened with missing the last two Tuesdays. She’s very good at empathizing.

“Well, what about the three sales leads?” she asked me. “Maybe one of them spoke to you and can fill you in about this past Tuesday in a workaround way.”

I laughed a little. “And what am I supposed to tell them? ‘Hi sir, remember when I called you two days ago and somehow convinced you to buy one of our fake car warranties? How did I trick you into that, exactly?'”

She scoffed. “I don’t know. That’s why you’re the salesman, right?”

She had me there.

We talked for a while about other stuff, namely her job and whether we were doing okay. I was honest with her and told her I didn’t think I was doing all that well, that maybe forgetting a day was a byproduct of some underlying mental health condition. Naomi reassured me, as she always did, and told me to write down all of my feelings the rest of the week. She was good at that sort of thing, which is why I came to her for advice so often.

We said our goodnights to one another and I went to bed. I had a problem sleeping that night, still rocked by everything. But Naomi had a point about the journal and calling those three leads. I resolved to do both the next day.

When I woke, it was Thursday morning. I went through my usual routine, but I grabbed one of my old composition books—having tried my hand at writing literature during my college days—and made some space in the notebook to chronicle how I was feeling at any given moment. I added it to my backpack along with a couple of pens, which I could never find when I needed them, and then headed to the office.

Once clocked in, I just sat at my desk. I saved the three leads for the late morning hours—it was often easier to follow up with leads between 11 AM and 3 PM, for reasons I never felt like researching. Then again, my lack of follow-through on my job was why they were getting ready to fire me anyway.

After posting yet another zero while halfheartedly prospecting, I took a 45-minute lunch and read over those index cards. I had my composition book right next to me, and I was trying to find any difference between my handwriting and the cards’ handwriting.

I wrote out all three leads repeatedly until I had to start making calls. But what I wrote in my notebook was the same as what had been written on the cards.

At one o’clock, I called the leads.

The first picked up and, to my surprise, I actually closed a sale! It had been two months since I had a close. I waffled my way through it, as I told Naomi I might. Nevertheless, I pulled it off.

The lead on the second card didn’t pick up, which isn’t a surprise. Any salesperson worth half their salt knows that sometimes, a lead needs up to six or seven contacts before they’ll decide to close. So, I put the card back in my box and tried the third—a guy named Hank.

I dialed Hank’s number and listened to the phone ring on the other end.

There was a click, and I heard heavy breathing.

I gave it a moment before I started in—it’s the salesman in me. I didn’t want to seem rattled on the callback, even though I was freaked out terribly because I missed an entire day in my memories—and somehow, I was great during the lost time.

“Hello Hank!” I said in my best full-of-shit voice. “It’s Mike from Premium Warranty! We spoke on the phone yesterday and scheduled a call back for today.”

There was a long pause on the other end of the line, with more heavy breathing.

“Hank?” I asked. “It’s Mike from Premium Warranty.”

“I know who you are,” he said back to me. “Well, I think I do, anyway. Do you know what happened to me yesterday, Mike?”

“N-no,” I managed to stammer out.

“Neither do I,” he replied scornfully. “Don’t call me again.”

And the line went dead.

I sat there bewildered and tried calling him back, but the phone rang without anyone ever answering again. I tried this a few times before giving up. A panic attack was setting in. I need to get out of here.

Breathing hard, nearly passing out, I got out of my chair and went to Steve’s office.

I stood in his doorway, panting. “Hey, Steve?”

He looked up from his computer like he always did. “Yeah, Mike. You okay, buddy?”

Wait, why wasn’t he pissed at me like always? I asked myself, studying his expression.


I snapped out of my thoughts and realized my breathing had slowed. I sped it back up to fake it—I just couldn’t be there.

“Steve, I have to go home. I really don’t feel well,” I told him.

And Steve was so friendly. He wasn’t even this nice when he hired me. “Whoa, okay, Mike,” he said, getting up from behind his workstation and hugging me. The guy yelled at me when I interviewed for the job, for Christ’s sake. “Take the day, okay? Come back and start fresh tomorrow morning.”

“Th-thanks, Steve,” I told him as I slid carefully out of the embrace. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

And I backed out of the office while Steve stood and smiled this . . . smile I’d never seen from him before.

I made my way to my desk, grabbed my backpack and all the stuff I needed, including Hank’s index card and my composition book, and made a beeline for the exit.

I got in my Kia and raced back home to Aston and my apartment.

The first thing I did was call Naomi. I was freaking out about everything. I couldn’t remember two whole days, a guy who had been interested in buying from me mysteriously threatened me, and the biggest and most dreadful thing: I had no idea what would happen next Monday night.

“Slow down, Mike,” she told me in that voice of hers. “There has to be a reason for this, okay? What can I do to help?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I . . . what could I even do for this?”

“Have you talked to a counselor?” she asked me. I hadn’t been to a shrink in a long time. I was too busy and didn’t bother to pay for health insurance.

“No,” I replied. “But I swear this isn’t in my head. And anyway, what will a shrink say to me that will fix this? Am I suddenly going to feel good enough to live through Tuesdays again?”

She sighed on the other end of the phone.

“Look,” I started, trying to walk it back. “I’m sorry. I just . . . if I’m crazy, then I’m crazy. But, other than experiencing these things, the losses in time, and the sudden changes in attitude from my boss and clients, I don’t feel any different.”

“So what does that mean?” Naomi asked me.

“What if someone else experienced this with me?” I asked her, point blank. “Can you help me? Can you sit with me on Monday night, and we’ll both stay awake and see if this happens again?”

She didn’t respond to that at all.

“God, Naomi,” I began. “I hate to ask, but can you please come over? Can you please make sure I’m okay? I won’t even sleep—I don’t think I can. But I’ll stay on the couch, you can have the bed. Whatever you want, anything, I’ll even pay you. Just . . . I need to know if this is in my head or not.”

She let out a breath. “Okay,” she responded, and I breathed a sigh of relief. “But we’re ordering takeout. I’m not eating your cooking.”

I laughed and hung up.

That night—Thursday, I think it was. I mean, it wasn’t supposed to be Thursday, but it was Thursday, and I didn’t sleep. When I went to work the following Friday, it was a mess. I was tired and sluggish, and I couldn’t focus on anything. Somehow, I made over a hundred dials, but I sped through them and didn’t connect with any leads meaningfully. I’d given up on journaling my thoughts, too. I just wrote Tuesday over and over on about three pages and shoved the composition book into my backpack.

I took a chance at lunch and tried to nap in my Kia. I ended up oversleeping and was in my car for an hour and a half when I ran back in and sat down.

Oddly, no one seemed to notice I was late . . . or that I even sat back down at all.

None of my coworkers or Steve acknowledged my existence.

I decided to test my paranoia.

I just sat there. From one-thirty to five o’clock, I just sat in my chair and did nothing.

I made no calls, didn’t interact with my computer, and didn’t even look at my phone. I just sat in my chair, glancing at my monitor, until it was time to punch out.

My six coworkers never looked at me—they just kept dialing and talking on the phone. When the day ended, I drove home, and there was the anxiety again. I occupied my time as best I could, playing video games, looking for new jobs, and texting my friends. I texted Brian to see if he and Julia set a date yet. But he never got back to me.

Hopefully, I’d be sane enough to attend.

I didn’t sleep that Friday night, either. Nor did I sleep on Saturday or Sunday. I was terrified, and now my mind was playing tricks on me.

Monday came, and . . . I didn’t recognize my job anymore.

This might be a byproduct of all the stress and insomnia, but like Friday afternoon, no one interacted with me. I didn’t even make a single call, not one. I sat at my desk and wrote down some things I could get to help me. I checked Amazon from my workstation and ordered a little dash camera that would double as a surveillance camera.

This way, I could eliminate someone playing a joke on me.

At lunch, I went down to my Camry.


Did I always own a Camry?

I had to have owned a Camry. I had the keys in my hand, complete with the Toyota logo. Plus, the car had all my stuff in it, including my registration and insurance card.

I digress. I went down to my Camry and took another nap. This time, I slept until two o’clock. I returned to my desk at 2:15. Again, no one cared.

It was so different from the previous Monday.

Before my shift ended, I thought about what Naomi had said when I spoke to her last. I have to admit I was excited that she was coming over, despite the horrific circumstances. I looked for takeout places near the office to see what I could bring home. I started to plan the night out, too. We could enjoy ourselves a bit instead of her watching me stare at a clock in terror, waiting for another day of my life to disappear.

I settled on a Vietnamese pho place and put in an order right from my cell phone. When my shift ended, I walked down to my Kia—

Yeah, my red Kia Soul was back, and I started it up. I sat there momentarily, checking the glove box and all the car’s compartments. It was still my Kia Soul. This time, I took some pictures. I took photos of the Kia itself and all my documents.

I wondered, for a moment, if it mattered that all of the photos were digital. I thought about ordering an old Polaroid One-Step and some film like I had as a kid.

I drove to the Vietnamese place, picked up my order, and then back to Aston. I cleaned my apartment a little and texted Naomi that I was ready. She came by about an hour after I texted—I want to say eight o’clock or so.

I answered the door and took her in for a moment. She looked at me with concern on her face.

“Jesus Christ, Mike,” she said as she walked through the door. “When was the last time you slept? You look like hell.”

I shut the door behind her and locked it. “I want to tell you it was last Monday night, but I don’t know if that was real or not,” I told her as I walked past, into the kitchen. “Make yourself at home.”

She took off her coat and sat on the couch as I grabbed the bag of pho from the kitchen.

“Can I ask you something?” I said as I walked back to the living room.

“Of course.”

I thought about the question. “What kind of car do I drive?”

She gave me the look to end all looks. “You drive a Kia Soul,” she responded flatly. “It’s a piece of shit. You bought it off a car lot for a courier job you took near King of Prussia a few years back, but it didn’t pan out. Since then, that thing has broken down in every way possible, including the transmission, the alternator, and the fuel pump. I keep telling you to get rid of it, and you keep telling me you put too much money into it. Why? What kind of car do you think you own?”

Though her tone was condescending, I breathed a sigh of relief. “Yeah, that’s right. Thank God,” was all I could say as I opened the bag and sat near her.

“What kind of car did you think you owned?” she asked again.

I tried to explain in a way that didn’t make me seem too far gone. “I swear, I went down to my car at lunch, and it was a Toyota Camry.”

The expression on Naomi’s face maintained concern, but now she seemed a little weirded out. “Okay,” she began. “Why do you think you owned a Camry?”

I got up off the couch and let out a sigh. What she said made me really angry, and maybe I reacted poorly.

“I don’t think I owned a Camry—I did own it,” I responded curtly as I paced around the living room. “Let me be clear: something is happening to me that’s literally changing my life. Parts of it are being replaced or something, and it has a lot to do with this Tuesday thing!”

Naomi looked up at me. “You haven’t been sleeping lately, Mike . . .”

“I know that!” I shot back, interrupting her. “You think I’m crazy. That’s fine, that’s why I asked you to come over. But I have to tell someone what the hell’s going on!”

Naomi looked away from me, down at the floor, and nodded. “So what do you want to do then?”

“I just want you to be here,” I told her. “I’ll sleep on the couch, you can have the bed like I promised. I didn’t do the laundry yet, but I have another sheet in a drawer. I just need to know if it’s only me or not, okay? And I trust you. If I do something that I can’t remember or whatever, please tell me, and I’ll know that’s what happened. That’s the truth.”

“So,” she started, looking back up at me. “You’re either kind of . . . sleepwalking through Tuesday and really don’t remember what happens. Or, you literally don’t have them anymore, and part of your existence is being erased.”

I started to cry, and she hugged me.

“That’s the long and short of it,” I said into her shoulder, choking on my own tears. “I’ll stay up tonight, one more night. If it’s Tuesday tomorrow, and you confirm it with me, I’ll go to the hospital and ask for a 72-hour hold, I promise. If the clock hits midnight and for whatever reason, it’s Wednesday, I really need your help. I don’t know what else to do. Please, Naomi?”

I took my head off of her shoulder and looked her in the eyes, waiting for an answer.

She simply nodded.

“I’m going to need the clean sheet,” she told me, tongue-in-cheek as always.

I laughed, and then I opened the bag of pho.

“Oh, I forgot to ask,” she said. “Did you close those leads?”

And then it hit me.


I still had Hank’s index card in my backpack!

I ran down to my car, leaving Naomi in the apartment, and found my Kia right where I always parked it within the complex. I grabbed my backpack out of the trunk and threw it over my shoulder, then ran back up the building stairs.

I hadn’t even shut my apartment door behind me. She sat on the couch, bewildered. “What was that about?”

“My sales leads,” I told her as I frantically dumped my backpack. “You just jogged my memory!”

I pulled Hank’s index card out of the pile. It still had his information on it, including the phone number. I was overjoyed.

“Perfect!” I yelled and grabbed my cell phone from my pocket.

Naomi shook her head.

“I’m still not getting it,” she told me.

I dialed the number on my phone. “My sales leads, the ones I didn’t remember generating. I called all three of them. When I got to this guy Hank, he was strange and hung up on me. I kept the index card with his info because I had a hunch.”

“A hunch?” Naomi gave me another funny look.

I nodded and pressed the button to connect the call. “Yeah, like maybe this guy was going through the same thing I was going through or talked to a different version of me or something.”

I pressed the button on the screen to switch to speakerphone and put the phone on the coffee table. We both waited for it to ring.

But it never rang.

“We’re sorry,” the automated voice said. “The number you have dialed is not in service . . .”

I hung up and tried again.

I got the same result. In a week, Hank’s number had somehow been disconnected.

I fell back onto the couch, defeated.

“Why was the number disconnected?” Naomi asked me—and suddenly, I found my strength again.

“Exactly,” I told her. “Even if you think I’m losing my mind, why would I make up a phone number and go out of my way to bring it home and call it in front of you? Why would I do any of what I just did if this was all in my head?”

She thought for a moment, and when she looked back at me, it looked like she realized what I was going through.

“Okay, so if I wake up here tomorrow and it’s Tuesday, you’ll get some help,” she reiterated. “But if I wake up tomorrow and it’s Wednesday, then you were right.”

I nodded excitedly. “Yes, exactly!”

Naomi let out a breath. “Then what?”

I felt all the energy drain from my body again.

“I don’t know,” I told her. “But two of us can tackle this better than one of us can.”

She smiled faintly, but now I could see the doubt in her face. The worst thing that could have happened at that moment did.

She was starting to believe me.

We ate dinner, played video games, and watched TV the rest of the night. At 11 o’clock, I didn’t end up sleeping. We changed the sheet on my bed, and I found a fresh blanket, too. Naomi set an alarm on her phone and went to sleep.

I grabbed my old blanket and went out to the sofa. I threw it on the throw pillow and made myself some coffee in the kitchen. I wasn’t going to sleep, not until I saw Tuesday. I only had about forty minutes left to know for sure.

I laid on the couch and played TV, turning the volume off and activating the captions so I wouldn’t wake Naomi. The channel was tuned to a late-night talk show I couldn’t stand. But I wouldn’t have been able to pay attention even if I wanted to.

The coffee made me jittery, but at least I was awake. I thought about what Naomi had said to me earlier, before we ate.

Then what?

I tried to plan in my head, but I didn’t know. Where was the precedent for this? What could I do? What if Naomi now lost her Tuesdays as well? What would we do?

Where could we run? How could we fix this?

I checked my phone for the time.

11:55 PM.

Perfect—at least I’d have an answer. Someone else would be here with me. I wouldn’t have to go through this again alone.

I put my phone down and hate-watched a little more of the show. My eyes hurt; I didn’t want to blink. I rechecked my phone.

11:57 PM.

This was it. I took a deep breath and braced myself. I stared at Hank’s index card, which was still on the table.

What happened to you, Hank?

11:58 PM.

I grabbed a pen and wrote on the back of the index card, big enough for her to find.

If I’m gone when you get up, know that I love you, Naomi. -Mike

I put the index card on the table and braced for the end. I was sitting up now—no way would I sleep through my personal apocalypse.

11:59 PM.

I started hyperventilating. I kept my eyes on the show and tried not to think about it.

11:59 PM.

I studied the show, and now it was frozen. The host had his hand in the air with his mouth wide open. The captioning stopped halfway on the word “acting” and simply read “act.”

I got up and looked around; I checked my balcony that stared out at the complex’s parking lot.

My Kia was gone again.

“Naomi! Wake up, it’s happening!” I ran to my jacket and pulled my car keys out. Sure enough, the car key had the Chevy emblem on it. I clicked the remote and a Chevy Cruze’s lights flashed in the parking lot.

I checked my phone to take a video. But none of the apps worked.

11:59 PM.

That wasn’t right. It had to have been several minutes from the time it was 11:58 p.m.

“Naomi!” I screamed from the living room, but she didn’t answer. “Naomi!” I got off the couch and ran to my bedroom.

She wasn’t in my bed.

In fact, my bed was made with my old sheet on it, and there was no blanket.

No, this isn’t right.

I started toward the living room but stopped in front of my bathroom doorway.

I turned and looked.


I walked in, switched the light on, and went to the sink.

But my reflection wasn’t in the mirror.

I stared at it for a few moments. I waved my hand and jumped up and down. I could see my hallway behind me, but not me.

I touched the mirror. It felt cool, like glass. I didn’t fall into it the way Alice did. I just stood, dumbfounded, at my lack of reflection.

11:59 PM.

I ran back out to the living room, and the picture on the TV was still frozen.

I looked at Hank’s note card. The message I wrote to Naomi wasn’t there. I flipped it over and it was completely blank. Hank’s information was gone, too.

I glanced out of my living room window. It was still dark, and there was no sign of Naomi in the parking lot.

11:59 PM.

I grabbed my phone, went to my front door, and ran into the hallway and down the stairs of my apartment building. I shouted for Naomi, but I didn’t get a response. I decided to take . . . my new Chevy Cruze, but it didn’t start. It didn’t even click or struggle, like with a dead battery or bad alternator. It didn’t do anything. It was a shell of a car.

I yelled Naomi’s name a few more times and looked around, but there was no answer.

In fact, there wasn’t any sound at all.

There were no insects, no cars from nearby Pennell Road, Pennsylvania Route 452. There was nothing.

All of the lights in the complex were off too, except for the parking lot lights. Not a single unit had its lights on.

I needed to squint to walk back to my building, in order to make sure I was at the right complex.

I returned to my unit, which still had the lights on.

But . . . they weren’t the right color. Something was off about them. Instead of my white, mini-florescent lamp bulbs, they were a sort of sickly yellowish-green.

Why didn’t I see them in the parking lot? And why did they change color?

The TV was now off—no picture. I tried the remote, but it wouldn’t turn on at all.

“Naomi!” I yelled, to no answer.

11:59 PM.

I went back to the bedroom. I tried all the lights in the apartment, but only the living room lights worked. My phone flashlight wouldn’t work either, and I had no spares around the place.

I made my way around the bed, whispering Naomi’s name. But from what I could tell, it was still empty, and the bed was made. I left the room and tried the switches again, and this time, the bathroom light came on—that sickly shade of yellow-green.

I wish I hadn’t turned that light on.

11:59 PM.

I looked into the mirror, and there was a reflection this time, but I didn’t recognize the person on the other side.

It was an older man in his late forties or early fifties. He was balding, with a crown of brown hair on his skull. He wore an ill-fitting brown suit, with glasses and a mustache.

He looked just as frightened as I was.

We mimicked each other’s movements for a few minutes.

11:59 PM.

Then he turned and ran out of his bathroom into the apartment. I just stood there, shaken.

I waited for him for a few more moments. I didn’t know what I would do if he returned, but sadly, the man in the mirror was my only ally.

When he didn’t come back, I simply walked to the couch. I yelled Naomi’s name one more time, and she didn’t answer.

I sat down.

And then my television came back on, and the host was sitting in his chair at his desk, like always.

But it was a different studio guest now.

12:00 AM, Wednesday.

All my lights came on and returned to the daylight-white color I purchased at Home Depot years earlier. They just shifted to the original color. My phone now worked again as well.

Damnit, Wednesday!

I looked out the window and down at the parking lot, and there was my Kia.

“Naomi!” I yelled to the bedroom—but still, there was no response. The index card was on the living room table, but both sides remained blank.

I ran back to the bedroom, but she wasn’t there.

I walked, defeated, to my bathroom.

I turned on the light. Sure enough, it was me in the mirror. I jumped up and down and fiddled with my hands, and all my movements matched.

I returned to the living room and laid on the couch. I held out some hope that Naomi would return.

The cellphone!

I’d called Hank and Naomi! Their numbers had to be on my phone!

I found what I thought was Hank’s in my dialed numbers.

And Naomi was still in my contacts!

I wrote them both down on my index card, took a screenshot with my phone, and jotted the numbers in several more places, just in case. Then I scribbled them down a few more times and tried my best to commit them to memory.

The lack of sleep caught up with me, however. I laid back down on my couch and nodded off.

When I woke up, it was still Wednesday.

I started by calling Naomi’s number, which gave me the not-in-service recording that sank my heart.

Then I tried Hank’s number again.

This time, it rang, much to my surprise.

A woman answered. “Hello?”

“Hi,” I said, trying my best salesman voice. “I wanted to talk to Hank. Is he available?”

There was a pause on the other end.

“I don’t know any Hank,” the woman told me. “And I, frankly, don’t want to. This is the sixth or seventh call I’ve picked up this morning that’s asked for Hank. Stop calling me.”

“Wait, ma’am, don’t hang up—”

But she did.


I had to find Naomi. There had to be some trace of her somewhere.

I got dressed and left my apartment, the destination being Glen Mills. I hadn’t planned on going to work, but I decided to visit the office.

I parked and ran up the stairs when I got to the building. I didn’t even bother with the elevator. Winded, I opened the door to the fourth floor and walked to the company office. Everyone was in their respective cubicles, and the door to Steve’s office was closed. I went to my desk without anyone acknowledging me.

The picture frame wasn’t there. In fact, my desk looked completely different from how I’d decorated it.

I looked on the dry-erase board. Where my name used to be, it now read Matthew.

“Excuse me,” someone said behind me. “This is a place of business.”

I turned around to see Steve looking right at me.

“Hey Steve,” I started.

Steve squinted at me, taken aback.

“Who?” he asked. “My name is Matt. Are you sure you’re in the right place?


“What? I’m Mike. This is my desk,” I said, pointing at it.

Steve scoffed. “That’s my desk,” he replied, condescendingly. “I stepped out to use the bathroom. And again, I’m Matthew. Is there something I can help you with? Are you lost?”

The others in the office turned and looked at me. A few of them were . . . different from the coworkers I knew.

I looked back at the dry-erase board, and there were multiple names I didn’t recognize.

I came unglued.

Turning back to Steve, I lunged at him. “Where’s her picture?!”

“What? What the hell are you talking about?!” he yelled. “Somebody call 911!”

I had him by the collar and shoved him up against the far wall. I just felt hot and red at this point. What did it matter, anyway? “The picture I keep on my desk, Steve! Where the hell is it?!”

“I’m not Steve!”

I felt someone grab my shoulder and I threw an elbow that must have hit whomever it was in the face. They let go, and I dropped Steve’s collar.

While the others checked on whomever I hit, I backed out of the office and ran down the stairs. I found my car in the parking lot and drove the hell out of there.

I thought long and hard about all of it. I was running out of options. I pulled over and tried calling Naomi again, but her number came back with the out-of-service recording.

I hung up and looked through my calls. I tried Hank’s number, which now went right to voicemail. The voice on the other end was that woman I’d spoken to this morning. I kept going through my calls and came across—


That’s right, Naomi was there with me!

I texted Brian and asked him to meet me when he got off work at the Aston Diner. He texted back k, and I started my car and drove onto Route 322. I pulled into the diner parking lot and just waited.

Hours passed, but eventually I saw Brian’s old Ford Escort that was painted three or four different colors, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I threw my door open, didn’t even shut it, and ran to the guy as he parked. “Boy, am I glad to see you, buddy!”

“Uh, thanks, Mike,” he said, no doubt a little scared by my reaction. “You ready to go in?”

“Wait,” I said, throwing my hands up. “I can’t find Naomi. Can you help me look for her?”

And then he gave me that look I was seeing way too often, the look I couldn’t deal with anymore.


And that one word dashed the last of my hopes.

“Hold on, she’s in my contacts.” I looked through my phone, but her name and number were gone. “Come on, man,” I said, grabbing him by the collar like I did with Steve. “You have to remember her. She was at your birthday party!”

He shook his head.

“I don’t know her,” Brian replied. “And I’ve never known any Naomi. I don’t know what’s going on with you, Jake, but I’m going to need you to take your hands off me.”


I did take my hands off his collar.

“What did you call me?” I asked him.

“I called you Mike, your name,” he responded. “Really, are you feeling okay, man? Ever since I got that call from you a few weeks ago . . .”

“What call?” I asked him.

“I don’t know—you called me and just started screaming a bunch of nonsense when I picked up. Stuff about the other side, and you cried a lot. I tried to calm you down, but I had to hang up. You didn’t even call yourself Mike, but it came from your number. You called yourself Troy, I think. I almost didn’t text you back today.”

I just looked at him.

“Do you remember when?” I asked. “What specific day I called, and do you remember how long ago?”

“Two weeks ago,” he replied. “It was Tuesday. You texted me a little after that to ask about the wedding. But I was too freaked out to get back to you.”

I nodded.

“Thanks,” I said. “I’ll see you around. Sorry I bothered you.”

With that, I turned and simply walked to my car.

“Really, man, if you need some help or something . . .” I heard him yell from across the parking lot. I didn’t bother to turn around. I just got in my Kia and started it. I looked at him as I drove through the parking lot; he stared at me as I went back down 452.

When I returned to my apartment, the camera I ordered had come, funnily enough. I spent the rest of the day setting it up. That was my Wednesday.

I did try Naomi’s apartment on Thursday, but of course, she didn’t live there. Her door code didn’t work, a different renter answered when I used the intercom, and the leasing office had no idea who I was talking about when I asked them about her.

I barricaded myself inside my apartment after that. There was no real point in doing anything. I was . . . phased out of my job, I guess would be the spin I’d put on it. I didn’t feel much like eating and barely felt like I existed. I just laid on the couch and let the TV play whenever it was in service.

Every day, I called Naomi’s number three times, hoping that just once, she would answer. The calls never went through, though. I kept getting the same disconnect message each time.

I’m out of hope. I don’t have any more ideas. I decided to ride it out until tonight and then do what I had planned to do several days ago:

I’m going to film what happens at 11:59 PM.

If I’m here . . . I will upload the video to YouTube or Reddit on Wednesday, to help someone who might be going through what I’m going through.

After that, I will drive to the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester, take one last look at the Delaware River I grew up near, and throw myself into the water. I’ll let the river decide what’s next for me.

Wherever I end up, I hope Naomi is there.