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Answering Machine

by silverquill12


You have eight new messages. 

Monday. Five-fifteen P.M.

Hey. Charlie here. I was just wondering if we're still on for Saturday night. Melanie said she ran into you at the supermarket, and you seemed like you didn't want to go. It's more than chill if you don't. I think it's supposed to rain, anyways. I know how much you hate the rain. But... uh, sorry... hang on... sorry, that was Melanie. She says we have to go to a dinner with one of her clients on Saturday. So, I can't do that either. Sorry. Uh. I guess, call back if you want to reschedule. Cheers.

Tuesday. Twelve-oh-seven P.M.

Sam, dear, it's Mom. You never call me any more. For heaven's sake, it wouldn't kill you to pick up the phone. You know how much I hate texting, I can barely read the little bubbles! Janet says she can fix it for me, and make the text bigger, but she isn't coming to visit until Christmas. At least she still visits. Ever since you moved to LA you've been distant. I miss you. Oh, be sure to take your pills. You know how bad you get when you're off them. Love you lots. 

Tuesday. Eleven-eighteen P.M.

Hey, baby. The wife'll be gone next week. Call me back. 

Wednesday. Eleven-thirty A.M.

Hi, this is Brooke and Johnson Pharmacy calling to let you know your prescription has been filled for a twenty count 125 milligram pills of sertraline. Pickup time is from ten to four every day. 

Wednesday. Four-forty-four P.M.

It's Janet. Call Mom. She keeps bugging me about it. Stay safe, take your meds. And for the love of God, CALL MOM.

Thursday. Three-fifty-two P.M.

You may be entitled to twenty years of tax refund. Call 1-800-732 for more information. 

Friday. Seven P.M.

Sam, this is Sarah, your manager. You haven't been at work in a while. What's going on? Everything OK? Oh, and you need to let us know if you're taking sick days. We're going to have to fire you if you don't come back next week. 

Friday. Eight-oh-two P.M.

Hey. Uh. It's Charlie again. Melanie's dinner got canceled. So I don't know if you still want to go out Saturday or not. I was thinking I'd keep it low-key, you know. Just some drinks and cards. Umm. Yeah. Call back, I guess. If I don't hear a reply, I'll take it as a no. 

....I miss you, man. Please call back. 


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8 Reviews


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Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:11 am
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oceans wrote a review...



Hi Silverquill12!

I think your piece is very creative, inspirational, and thought-provoking.

From the hints through the messages, the receiver obviously has some sort of mental illness and has a good few people checking up on him.

I think this method of storytelling was used well, seeing through the eyes of the people who care about the person who is sick. When you have a mental illness, even if you have a million people who care, your brain can trick you into thinking otherwise, and I think your piece expresses that as well.

It also expresses how the people around us, even if they mean well, hardly ever do enough to help someone in need. I mean, all these messages but no one went by to check on him? People hardly ever do, until its too late. Humans are an interesting thing, so is the brain.

I thought this was really cool piece and I look forward to reading more from you.

Keep writing!

<3






Thank you for your thoughts!



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Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:19 am
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tellme says...



Oh boy I couldn't stop reading! =)






Ahh I'm glad you enjoyed!



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Sat Aug 01, 2020 7:49 am
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Tenyo wrote a review...



This is so good!

Personally I love this method of storytelling, it's such an interesting perspective. It's like... shining a torch on all the corners of a room but leaving the middle in darkness. A character is created by the things that are said to them without ever hearing the words they say.

I feel like this is alluding to some kind of mental health condition (I had to google sertraline), like the person is too depressed to answer the phone, or has come to harm in some way. There's no way of actually knowing though, and that's the brilliant thing about it. They could even have just gone on holiday. They also seem to have a fairly active and connected life which makes it feel even more mysterious.

If you were you move forward with it I think making it longer and adding more intricacy would be good. I'd like to see more development with the different characters and the rest of the world that Sam interacts with.

Nice work. Keep it up!






Thank you for your thoughts!



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Fri Jul 31, 2020 10:59 pm
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Shadeflame wrote a review...



Wooo! For some reason, I was inspired to review this, which is weird because I haven't done a review in... what? A few weeks? Well, anyways, out of the blue I decided I should review your story, so here goes. Hopefully I'm not too rusty. Oh who am I kidding, I'm totally out of practice

First things first. I like this piece. It's short and sweet, and it manages to have a story to it, to make you want to read more and find out what happens to Sam.

You have eight new messages.

When I first saw this and looked at the first message, I got sort of a horror story vibe, so I spent the whole story on edge, wondering at every sentence if something dark was gonna happen. And, not gonna lie, it sort of did, at least, you implied it did.
Then we go on to meet Charlie. He (I'm assuming Charlie's a he) seems like a nice dude. I can get sense of his personality from those two messages, and you can sort of tell that he's a close friend.

Sam, dear, it's Mom. You never call me any more. For heaven's sake, it wouldn't kill you to pick up the phone. You know how much I hate texting, I can barely read the little bubbles! Janet says she can fix it for me, and make the text bigger, but she isn't coming to visit until Christmas. At least she still visits. Ever since you moved to LA you've been distant. I miss you. Oh, be sure to take your pills. You know how bad you get when you're off them. Love you lots.

I felt like there was something off about this message. I don't know, it might have just been me, but it didn't seem natural. It read like a text, not a voicemail. "At least she still visits." I think it was that part. A mom wouldn't really say that, at least, that's not what I got from her character. Feel free to ignore this piece of advice though.

Hey, baby. The wife'll be gone next week. Call me back.

Okay, at this part I'm officially confused. I'm getting vibes that Sam is having an affair with this guy, which leads me to believe that Sam is female. But then, in the last message, Charlie is like "....I miss you, man." so I'm really not sure of Sam's gender here, because Sam is both a girl and boy name.

Hi, this is Brooke and Johnson Pharmacy calling to let you know your prescription has been filled for a twenty count 125 milligram pills of sertraline. Pickup time is from ten to four every day.

More mentions of medicine, giving me an ominous feeling, and then his/her sister calls, mentioning the pills again. She also says "Stay safe." which makes me think that Sam has a history of doing risky stuff and/or is depressed.

You may be entitled to twenty years of tax refund. Call 1-800-732 for more information.

This. This made me smile, I don't know why, but it did. It sort of relieved some of the tension in there, and made me relax a bit.

I liked how at the end you finished the story on a sad, yet suspenseful note, with Charlie (poor Charlie) saying "....I miss you, man. Please call back."
I'm guessing that Sam committed suicide, or something like that, but anyways. It was a great story, it definitely deserves to be in the literary spotlight, so good job. There were no issues on the grammar, so props to you on that, and keep writing!

-Shade






Thanks for your review!



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Fri Jul 31, 2020 10:38 pm
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Lia5Giba wrote a review...



Heyo! This is such an interesting way to tell a story. I don't know what gender Sam is, just because they're referred to as "man" by Charlie, but is called "baby" by a man who has a wife, so I can see him as straight. Not sure, though. Don't want to assume anything.

It's interesting how you've laid out the life of this person in voicemails. This person Sam, probably in their twenties, seems like kind of a loner who's been a little down recently, probably with depression and/or anxiety if they're taking sertraline. (I looked the drug up, that's how I know what it does.) Something's happened so that they're not picking up their calls or going to work. They've got a sister and a mom who at least seem decently close, plus other relationships. The call concerning the "hey baby" sexy man person is interesting, adding further to Sam's atmosphere as a character.

One thing I'm confused about is Sam's relationship to Charlie. Charlie doesn't seem to be a spouse (because of Melanie) or a sibling, so is he just a friend? An acquaintance? He seems like someone Sam knows pretty well. Maybe another shady figure?

All in all, I enjoyed this. I'm not sure what the message is or all the relationships, but I like this structure a lot. I think you could go farther, add more voicemails and further build the intrigue to where Sam is. I really thought this was interesting, and well written too! :D






Yeah, part of the thing was supposed to be a mystery of who Sam is/was. Charlie was a friend, and this piece needs some revision, because it kind of shifted as I continued to write it.



Lia5Giba says...


Ah, okay. Thanks for the info!



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Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:33 pm
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silver877 says...



This is nice.






Thank you!



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Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:14 pm
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Andrewknorpp wrote a review...



This sure is interesting! The method of telling a story about a person from only what other people say too them is interesting! If this is the last piece of this story it's a bit vague. Would be a great way to start some type of mystery, but I'm guessing the reason the character is missing is a suicide, from the talk of meds. A bigger hint about what is going on would be nice, but I do kinda also like the mystery of this.
There are no specific mistakes I spotted, I really enjoyed this, and I hope there is a second part!
Thanks and keep Writing.






Thank you for your comments!





Oh, and it was originally supposed to be a standalone, interpretive piece. But you have inspired me to reconsider. I promise if I write more, you'll be the first to know.




Too often we crave the extraordinary in life, without even learning how to cherish the ordinary first. Friend, I promise you this: if you can learn to take joy in the simple mundane things in life, the extraordinary will take care of itself, it'll be on its way, hurrying towards you. But if you skip the first part, it'll ever evade you.
— Arcticus