I know who you are.
Dawn heard the chime long before she saw the message. She sent a short message to all of her followers moments before to tell them she would be canceling her live for the night. Instead, she planned to go for a run, an attempt to get her mind in the right place. As she tried to slip her left shoe on, she heard her phone go off and grabbed it. She half expected it to be from her boyfriend–now ex–Freddy. But instead, she saw those five words in her TikTok DMs. They sent a chill down her spine.
She had nothing to hide. She knew many content creators kept personas or covered the true stories of their lives with pretty filters and photoshop, but she wasn’t one like that. Her instagram was lined with pictures of her breakdowns; her TikToks talked about the traumatic past she had as a child; her tweets talked about the times she got sick. The whole thing she tried to avoid was making her life seem perfect and putting someone else down.
So, she didn’t understand the context of the message they sent her.
What do you mean? She replied.
She set her phone face up on the cushion next to her. Her eyes scanned over the now dark screen. It reflected the corner of her ceiling, where the popcorn texture met LED strips. She slowly leaned down, keeping her gaze on it as if it would jump up and bite her at any moment, and grabbed her other shoe. When nothing more came, she looked away to put on her other shoe. All she wanted was a night away from the bustle of social media and the need to be social.
She needed a night to herself. A night to just binge on ice cream, watch a sappy movie, and let it all out. When Freddy said they were through, it made her feel as if nothing mattered. She worked so hard on building her own business and her own social media presence that this break-up felt like a step backward.
Her phone chimed once more.
She reached for it out of instinct. Her heart pounded in her chest. The messages were simple, strange but simple, yet she felt on edge. She unlocked her phone and scrolled through her apps to TikTok.
You're lucky you canceled the livestream tonight… or are you?
She leaned forward as she studied the message. Her elbows rested on her thighs. It sounded like a veiled threat to her and made her worry. She wondered if it was one of Freddy’s friends; but he was the one that called things off, not her. They had no reason to come for her. Then she wondered if maybe Freddy was playing a prank on her.
The whole reason he chose to break up with her was for the fact that she streamed. He didn’t like that it was so public, even when she tried to talk about him less and things he did. Something about her even talking about her life upset him. In the end, he decided he couldn’t deal with it.
She studied the username, hoping for some clues as to who it was. Your_Lying_Vows. It didn’t ring any bells. She didn’t recognize it from live streams or her follower list. Their profile picture was the default light gray background and white silhouette, except for the eyes. Whoever was behind the other side of that username took the picture and added x’s for eyes.
“You’re just a troll account,” she muttered with a roll of her eyes as if the other person would hear her. She assumed they saw her last live stream, the one she called a disaster. Not even five minutes in, she started to feel the sting of tears and the clenching of dread in her chest. She decided to come clean about the breakup with Freddy and tried to push through the live stream despite feeling she could fall apart at any moment. The stream last only a few minutes after the initial breakdown; she just couldn’t keep it up even though she tried.
She didn’t really mind crying on screen. It was far from the first time she did so, but this time felt different. She thought they would have a future together, she didn’t think they would break up, and she definitely didn’t see it coming. So, she ended it early and moved on. Or so she thought. When it came close to stream time tonight, she feared the same thing would happen. That was when she decided to take the time she needed for herself.
Naturally, as soon as she updated her social media accounts, this person decided to pop into her DMs with the weird messages. Pressing on the person’s profile, she blocked them and closed the phone. She let out a soft sigh of frustration and got to her feet, grabbing her earbuds off the coffee table in front of her and heading for the door. Originally, she didn’t plan to go for a run tonight. But she felt going for a run would help her to feel better. She had put off her runs for a few weeks now and she swore she could feel it in her bones.
And it might at least distract her from Freddy for a bit.
She stopped in front of the door, pulling her hair back into a messy ponytail and sliding the hair tie from her wrist to wrap it around her hair. Then, she grabbed her keys and headed out. A rush of sticky hot air greeted her. The worst part of summer. Even as the sun began to set, casting an orange glow over the sky, the world remained too hot for her liking. But Dawn was determined; nothing was going to keep her from this run. Not memories of Freddy, not some internet creep sending her cryptic messages, not the summer heat. Nothing.