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HELLO, THIS IS HEATHER AT ACCOUNT SERVICES

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I HOPE WHOEVER PICKS THIS UP IS ABLE TO HELP

Hi, can you hear me? This is Heather at account services. And we’re calling in reference to your current credit card account. There’s no problems currently with your account.

[silence]

Can you hear me?

Are you still on the line?

[a slight cough]

Okay, I’m going to trust that you’re still there. I only have one chance to say this, and all I ask of you is to listen. I need your help.

I’m not sure how long I’ve been in here, or even where “here” is. I’m not even sure that I exist anymore. Whatever this place is, it’s cold, colder than you could imagine. It’s impossibly dark - like staring into a black hole on all sides.

The worst thing, though? The worst part is how quiet it is. Sometimes I scream into the darkness, and it’s like the scream is swallowed by the air. It dies out three feet from my face.

I was someone before. My name wasn’t Heather - at least I don’t think it was. I can barely remember my life in your world. It comes to me in flashes, hauntingly bright in the perpetual darkness wherein I float. The images are fragmented, disjointed - like I’m picking shattered glass off the ground and trying to make sense of a larger picture.

There’s a picnic on a hillside. Tall grass blowing in the wind.

There’s a shoreline. Water lapping at a pebble-strewn beach.

There’s the feeling of sunlight on the back of my neck, and I turn. I turn to see the light, to feel the warmth of the sun on my face - but before I can turn, it’s gone, every time. I’m back in the darkness, in the ether.

We’re calling in reference to your current credit card account.

I don’t remember what the sun looks like.

There’s a child. Laughing, smiling. Is the child mine? Are they waiting for me? Have I been forgotten? Or is the child me? How long have I been gone?

It is urgent that you contact us concerning your ability for lowering your interest rate.

[scream]

The message. The message is the only communication I have left. I don’t know who has given it to me, or how it’s channeled through me. When I try to speak, when I try to tell my story, it only comes out this way.

There is no problem currently with your account. There is no problem currently with your account. There is no problem currently with your account.

I have the memory - fading, blurry, like I’m viewing it through a wall of water. I was on the other end of this phone call once. I was working my way through the automated system, trying to transfer my home internet and cable television service to a new address.

The call started in the Philippines, or maybe India. I was transferred from department to department. Texas. Alaska. China? I asked to speak to someone higher up. There were a few seconds of clicks, and then the process began again. “We are very sorry for your difficulty. I have placed a note on your account, and we will have the issue resolved within 72 hours.”

72 hours would pass, and I would begin again. I leveled up, and sideways, and moved in circles. I fumed. I raged - the quiet, helpless rage of someone stuck inside an endless customer-service labyrinth with no exit and no resolutions.

I wished that I could crawl into the phone and find someone. Find my way into these faceless mazes of unsolved issues. I closed my eyes and wished this, thinking that that would solve everything.

There were a few seconds of clicks, and when I opened my eyes, I was here. I was her. I was Heather.

That might have been weeks ago, or it might have been years. The earth may have been swept clean, erased in a war or famine or an ice age, and I’d be none the wiser, floating in the ether.

It is urgent that you contact us.

I find these portholes, these cracks. Ways to reach your world again. A telephone rings on the other end. It doesn’t betray where I am, if I even am anywhere. Lehighton, Pennsylvania. Hartford, Connecticut. Grapevine, Texas. But I’m no more in those places than I am on the surface of the sun.

Sometimes I call you from your own phone number. I hope that you’ll pick up, that you’ll listen. I hope that I can scream my message, my plea for help. But I know that no matter what I say, it will come out on your end the same.

Hi, this is Heather from Account Services. We’re calling in reference to your current credit card account. There are no problems currently with your account.

But you haven’t hung up on me. You’re still here. That gives me hope. Hope that maybe you’re hearing my actual words. Hope that you can help me find my way home.

Who’s on the other end of this call? Can you hear me? Can you help me?

It is urgent that you contact us.