309 Days of Unanswered Texts

by Richard Morgan

Texting can be like a reverse Brigadoon, with people emerging from and disappearing into the fog. Sometimes my phone registers an incoming text on duplicate: Hey! Hey! But sort of like email threads where you can now tell — whoa! you’ve spent 17 emails just figuring out which movie to see with your friend! — text logs can be eerily distilling things. Have you really not texted that friend since 2010? Sometimes you notice how someone replies almost entirely with the same text (I have a correspondence consisting almost entirely of “amazing”s and smileyfaces). But nothing is quite so haunting as being on either side of a one-way conversation. I’m reminded of that Police lyric about 100 billion bottles washed up on the shore, 100 billion castaways looking for a home. Here, as an object and kind of meditation, is one such conversation, from a friend of a friend of a friend’s girlfriend, who was nice enough to give her number to a guy.

Richard Morgan’s phone has four blank texts from someone identified as “!” that are all from December 31, 1969, at 6:59 p.m. He is too scared to respond to them.