by Tallisen Smith


They started as small changes. Cups disappearing, decorations being moved across the room, popular books changing their titles. But then people’s names would change. I couldn’t find my friends in my contacts, and instead they were replaced by the names of strangers I had never even met before. I know damn well I had never spoken to a “Martine,” so why would I have their number? 

A few weeks later I went to work and I couldn’t recognize a single face around me. Even the person who sat next to me was gone, replaced by some guy named “Daniel.” But the strangest part was that he acted the exact same way as my old co-worker: the same mannerisms, the same posture, even the slight accent that he retained from growing up in the South. My head was throbbing, and I ended up leaving work early on account of my aching head. This had been going on for too long for me to believe it was a dream, but maybe I could go to sleep and everyone would go back to normal the next day. Boy, was I wrong.

Everyday I would go to work and see all their faces change. I could never see anyone remotely recognizable, only strangers that spoke and acted like people I used to know. I was actually about to send in my two weeks when things really escalated one morning after I woke up and looked in the mirror. The problem was that I couldn’t see myself, and instead I saw an unfamiliar face looking back at me. I couldn’t recognize myself anymore. The reflection moved when I moved and blinked when I blinked, but it wasn’t me. I stopped leaving my apartment after that. Each morning I would look at myself and see another person. Sometimes it was someone I had never seen before, but sometimes it would even be the face of an old friend or even a co-worker I recognized. It was draining. Do you know what it’s like to look in the mirror and not recognize your own face? I can only vaguely remember my old appearance, as even the faces in all of my photos have changed.

Sooner or later my grocery supply started running low, so I left my apartment for the first time in a month to stock up on more food. But as I walked the usual path to the corner store that was only a few blocks away, I realized there wasn’t a usual path. The streets around me had changed too, and I was now wandering aimlessly through the city. I tried to retrace my steps back to my apartment, but I couldn’t find it. I didn’t recognize a single building around me, and after walking around for thirty minutes, I started to panic. What if I never found my way back to my apartment? I wandered around for almost two hours before I finally came across a building that looked vaguely familiar. Having not much else to go off of, I walked inside and went to where my apartment would normally be. I tried inserting my key into the lock. Please open please open please- the door clicked open. I wanted to cry. 

I haven’t left my apartment since then. I’ve tried to ration my food as much as I can, but I ran out yesterday and I haven’t eaten since then. At this point my only options seem to be to either wander the streets aimlessly forever or die of starvation. But when I barely even know who I am anymore, perhaps it would be best if I no longer existed.