“Listen to how it plays this song through my earphones”, Erica said, a slight glee in her tone.
Her friend gasped as she placed the earphones in her ears, “oh, that’s so loud!”
“I know right? And it blocks out every other sound”
“I love this phone”
I love this phone.
Those were words I didn’t forget for the next week, not that she made it easy to. Even on days when it didn’t look like I was doing enough, when I would wonder about all the millions of others who were better than me- she loved me.
I knew her weight, her height, and what her schedule was like. I knew all her passwords and took all her pictures. I knew how much she had in her bank account and read all the conversations with her friends. I knew when she was on her period and I always reminded her two days before the time so she would be prepared.
I played her music in the shower, watching as she danced to every beat that came out through my speakers. I only ever heard her laugh the way she did when she was with me, watching videos on my screen, scrolling and scrolling, tapping and tapping. With my help, she talked to her family easily. Because of me, she was never bored or alone at night. I reminded her of every single class she had, every email she had to reply to. When she was hungry and alone at home, we ordered food together and it was on nights like that, I thought…
I loved Erica too.
I loved her short curly hair, her friendly voice, and the way she laughed. I loved how the first thing she did when she bought me at the phone store was buy a glass guard to protect my screen because she didn’t want me to have any accidents that may cause cracks. When she fixed a yellow case on my back to protect me, it quickly became my favorite color. I loved how she looked at me, I loved how I made her feel. When her friends would try to take me, she would grab and hold on to me with urgency, because I held secrets only we knew. I was her best friend, her confidant, her partner.
Until Bruce came along.
Bruce. What a stupid name, am I right? The only valid man named Bruce is Bruce Wayne and that’s because he’s Batman. Erica never really liked Batman, so I failed to see why she would go for a guy named Bruce.
I thought our relationship would withstand Bruce’s cocky smile, long straight hair, and annoyingly husky voice- because she still looked at me the same way, she still held on to me the same way, she still let me capture her beauty with my amazing camera features so I thought she still loved me, but she was doing it for stupid Bruce.
She was smiling at me because he was texting her. She only held on to me tightly while she waited for a text from him- her eyes glancing at my notification bar every second. She took pictures- all kinds of pictures, even the provocative types she never used to take, so she could send them to him.
She didn’t want to hang out anymore, she didn’t want to watch videos with me anymore. Our nights alone turned to movie nights with Bruce. She ordered food for him when he was around- something we used to do together. Whenever Bruce wasn’t available to talk to her or text, I could see the look in her eyes when she stared at me, like I was not much to her as long as he wasn’t there.
I hated that look and I hated him.
He was ruining her, and she was too smitten by him to notice. I began my plan to get him away from her in any way I could. I wasn’t sure how I could do that. I am, after all, just a phone. There was only so little I could do, yet so much.
I knew how they loved talking to each other so I started to cut off Bruce’s calls whenever they came in and she wasn’t looking. She never looked at me except for when he called or texted anyway, so it always took a while before she noticed, and then it would be too late.
I opened his messages on purpose when he texted her, so he could feel just as ignored as I did. It was perfect. He would send so many messages, and I would turn off my ringer and leave him on read. This always got him so annoyed. Humans don’t like being ignored. That must be why they love their phones so much. We’re always available whenever they need us. I was always available for Erica whenever she needed him. I could go with her anywhere, but she wanted Bruce.
It was a petty thing to do, I know- but I didn’t care. Erica would be grateful if she knew why I was doing it. That’s another thing about humans, they are not as rational as they seem. They are easily swayed by emotions. I was doing what was best for her, and it didn’t matter if she saw it that way.
Bruce and Erica got into a fight when one day he asked her to meet up with him somewhere and she never showed up. He showed her the text he had sent her, but she never saw it. It must have gotten deleted off her phone somehow. I wonder how.
He got angry and she cried while she apologized. Why couldn’t she see that he was not good for her? A boyfriend who thought she was a liar and a bad girlfriend? Was that what she really wanted?
They made up that night and while they made out on the vintage couch Erica and I ordered together, I thought of a new plan- one that would be worse than the last. I had gone too easy on them. They needed something worse. She needed a big push. I wondered if I could communicate with Bruce’s phone and ask to form an alliance, but what if I got outed?
Thoughts like these left me feeling paranoid for nights when Erica went to sleep, but then I would look at her, listen to the little sounds she made, see the way her forehead creased whenever she had a weird dream, and watch how she tossed and turned in bed, ending up with a leg stuck outside her blanket- and I thought I needed to save her. She was too precious. She deserved better than Bruce. I thought that every single second of the day until it happened.
“I think something is wrong with my phone”, I heard Erica say to him one day, “it keeps glitching when I’m trying to text. Swiping when I don’t ask it to swipe. It’s getting pretty annoying”
Annoying? She thought I was annoying?
“Well, it is an old model. Maybe it’s time you get a new one”, Bruce said, “how about we go to the phone store later this week? You can get a new one for a cheap price if you trade this one”
“I don’t have the money for a new one yet”, she said softly as she stared at me. I could see it in her eyes, it wasn’t that she didn’t have the money. It was the memories we had made together. The things we had shared, she was having a hard time coming to terms with how she would have to leave all that.
“Don’t worry about that. I got you”, he said casually, flashing a cocky grin and she smiled, before kissing him.
They were kissing, in front of me- after openly making plans to get rid of me.
“I got you”, he had said. No, he didn’t. I was the one who had her back, I was the one who did everything for her and reminded her of everything. I was the reason she was never late to her appointments. I knew more about her than he did- but that didn’t matter, because Bruce wasn’t my only enemy. I quickly realized that Erica was too.
Heartbreak is difficult to understand when you have no actual heart so you don’t know where the pain is coming from. Your battery? Your circuits? Your software? I charged slowly for the first time that day, which only made Erica all the more certain about her decision to change me, but I couldn’t be bothered. I was done trying to impress her.
Two days to the day she was going to the phone store with Bruce, she backed up all the files in me on her computer. She was taking the memories she had with me to give to her new phone. All the pictures I took of her, all the ways I captured her beauty, this new phone would take it as theirs and I would be nothing but a shadow of the past.
She had made her decision on what to get, a newer model, not one as old as I was. It had a sleek design, better color options, and features. It was old news and this only hurt me more.
The night before I was to be replaced, I showed Erica an ad for a plate of soybeans and rice because she was hungry. “Oh”, she went in that voice I loved so much. I wanted one last meal alone with her, without Bruce.
She ordered it quickly and it was at her doorstep in minutes. “I’ve never had soybeans before but this looks really good”, she was saying to herself as she took pictures of the food. She was probably going to send those to her laptop too. I didn’t put much effort into making them look good, and she stopped trying after the sixth picture.
She ate, humming to herself as she watched her favorite sitcom. I listened carefully from where I charged next to the Tv stand. She would chuckle lightly, drink water to clear her throat, and then continue to eat. It wasn’t long before she started to cough. She was laughing at the sitcom and then I heard her cough. She tapped her chest as she stood to go into the bedroom.
Seconds later, I heard a scream from the bathroom, then more coughing. She was saying something to herself when she came out, walking slowly to the tv to turn it off, and then I could see her face.
It was swollen, her lips were parted and I wondered if that was because her tongue was swollen too or if she was just trying to catch her breath. She inhaled sharply and exhaled weakly as she sat on the ground. Her face was getting pale and I noticed she held on to her stomach like it was hurting. I resisted the urge to let out a happy beep, but then she grabbed me- pulling me off my charger with force.
It hurt. I was tired of her hurting me. She began to tap on my screen and I would not turn on. When I did turn on, her eyes glimmered with hope but then I started to glitch on purpose. I saw her get scared, anxious…she no longer thought I was annoying. She feared me.
Erica’s hands pushed against the screen forcefully to unlock the phone and tried her hardest to click on the call icon. She was trying to call someone, but I didn’t want her to. I wanted to be the only one with her that night. I wanted to be the last one to see her.
She was already struggling to breathe and she let out a frustrated groan as she threw me to the tv stand. I hit the side and fell with a low thud. I heard her say something. It sounded like “stupid phone”
She was such an ungrateful human, and that was why I did it. That was why she deserved what was happening. She tried to crawl to the door, but she never made it, because she passed out and when Bruce came to find her the next morning, she was still lying there- dead.
No one ever knew it was me- that Igot her allergy report from her doctor that week via email, that i seized the opportunity and deleted it so she would never see it, and therefore would not know what foods to avoid- like soybeans.
I was found about a week later, when her things were being cleared. Her mother picked me up. I had never seen her before but i could recognize her voice from all those nights spent being the mode of communication between she and Erica. She was a beautiful woman, just like her daughter.
Her mother gave me to her father, asking him to sell me at a used phone store because they needed the money and i was not useful anyway. I didn’t feel bad. I had loved their daughter. This was her fault.
I was sold and i felt freedom when all my memories of Erica were cleared. I was empty, ready to be taken and loved again. I saw new people come in and go out of the store everybody, met new phones and interacted with them- those who wanted to listen heard my story.
10 months after Erica’s death, the store’s door opened and the loud bell rung. A girl named Emma walked in with her mom. She looked like she was about 15. She was asked to select a used phone since she didn’t have the money for a new one. After looking through all the phones, she noticed me and her eyes lit up. I knew what that look meant.
She loved me.