WRONG NUMBER • by J. M. Eberth


It was easy, so freakin’ easy to remember, and no wonder everyone else did. It was a great sequence of numbers, honestly, and one I could have sworn I had for ages. I’d still get messages every now and then from old friends at jobs, college, even high school. People who I’d now consider total strangers in my life reaching out for whatever reasons asking, “Is this still Brian Price?” to which, of course, I’d reply, “Depends…” every time, ellipsis and all. I cringe at my past self if there ever was such a thing. I mean, if I ever was him — Brian Price. I didn’t start to question things until a couple weeks ago when I decided to text the old number myself.

> hello ?

– hi

> hey! Didn’t think they’d recycle my number that quickly, but if strangers text u, could u send them my way? Lost my contacts list. Here’s my new one

> 7235988888

God, what an ugly set of numbers.

> grats on getting my old number btw, its served me well

– no sorry. U got the wrong person. . .

> ?

> 7237752772? That’s my old line

– no I’ve had this number for more than a decade. Ur the wrong person

At first, I thought they were trying to get me to piss off. “More than a decade,” what were they on about? In retrospect, I no longer think “you’re the wrong person” was a typo.

> ???

> who is this

– brian, who is this?

> brian who?

– Brian price. Who tf is this?

I felt sick then: ill in the most awful of places. I tossed my phone and buried it into the couch several times while debating if I should text back. Eventually, I did, I wrote:

> the fuck u are, I’m Brian price. I don’t know what the fuck u think ur doing claiming to be me, but this is my old number. Someone set u up to this?

I sent two more after that, but there was no reply.

> who is this really

> I’m calling the police

I never did, and for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t have replied either. Every morning since though, I’ve looked less like myself in the mirror. Even the name on my license looks different.

Whosever on the other end of that line is Brian Price now, and maybe, they always were.

J. M. Eberth writes in Kansas, USA.

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