This story starts out familiar enough, with a declined credit card purchase attempt. This sort of thing happens more often than I would prefer, but this time, I was completely sure I had the money I needed in the account. The money was just deposited the day before. After some digging, it became clear that my identity had, indeed, been stolen. I was so relieved.
Sure, missing that money for the next week was going to hurt, but it’s not like this hacker could possibly make my financial life worse. I’ve defaulted on my student loans, and my credit is garbage. I drift from one low-level job to another. My rental history is not terrible but not remarkable. I’m constantly hounded by debt collectors. All that is someone else’s responsibility now.
Then, exactly at midnight, my phone buzzed with a notification. A deposit. In my bank. The money was back, and then some. I had no idea what it meant, but right then, it meant I was buying some beer and convenience store nachos.
I never got around to calling the bank. Never bothered to change any passwords. One by one, I noticed my public accounts being compromised. The hacker optimized my LinkedIn account, and the once-quiet profile was getting promising job offers. My dating profiles were next. All included factual aspects of my life, but they were phrased in ways I never had the words to articulate. The photos had changed, however. My phone was blowing up with notifications to the point I had to mute it.
Then I got the emails that changed my life. The hacker accepted a job in my name, entering at a middle-management position, with a salary double that of anything I would ever dare ask for in a job interview. The hacker also had a new beau, a beautiful chiseled man named Javier that writes the most achingly heartfelt poetry I have ever read. He must really love her.
Of all things, you would think living your own life would literally be the one thing you were born for. I now realize I’m not even a close second. I became a ghost haunting my own life. I still had money available for rent, booze, and the occasional meal, so “I’m” hardly suffering. I binge Netflix all day, drink myself to sleep, and of course, keep up with the new Rani and her superior life. Thankfully, the new Rani never once flagged any of my purchases as fraudulent, perhaps out of pity.
Rani and Javier travel a lot. I read their loving emails to each other. During a tour through Italy, Javier presented Rani with an engagement ring. I openly sobbed with joy when she said yes.
I hope things work out for Rani. For once, I feel genuinely invested in how her life turns out.