Here’s a little something from the novel in progress I am working on.
These June nights were sticky and sweltering. He didn’t relish the idea of sitting around for another evening in his boxer shorts, trying to find something on Netflix he hadn’t watched yet. Then there was the Unholy Trinity of social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. He would go from one to the next, tapping, scrolling, then closing out of one app when his attention span waned. Social media was a poison that had infected the minds of an entire generation. Maybe two. He often found himself struggling to get through a span of ten minutes without it.
Any moment he realized there wasn’t something to stimulate his senses, whether it was keeping an eye on what friends or family were doing, or some glamorous “Influencer” who had no doubt been comped a ticket to some exotic locale, dressed to the nines with something expensive that no doubt showed off plenty of leg or her abundant young breasts, and had been photographed professionally and doctored with all the latest of imaging software.
In this world, Youth was God, and everyone prayed to it. Especially young women. Perfect skin, clothes, accessories. It went beyond the days of his own youth when all that mattered for a man was how fit you were, your jawline, cheekbones, or how you looked in a suit. Or, hell, maybe having something to say. But that required connections. He was never very well connected anyway. Connections were what mattered. In this world, image was everything. Nobody cared about the words you could sling, only the anticipation of a stray nipple or an “oops” moment of a hastily recanted nude posted mistakenly online.
There was never a better time than now to be a rich, young, beautiful white woman.
He had a hard time getting work. His mind might have been young and fresh, his eyes new to the world around him after having been hidden from the light for so long, but his face was not something which was social media friendly. He didn’t have many Instagram followers. He didn’t have the look for that kind of thing. He was old now. Mid forties. Bald. Fat. Though plenty of people claimed to love the dad bod, he was no longer 145 lbs soaking wet with abs and long ringlets of flowing black hair. He was just as his ex-wife had described him since he was thirty: an old piece of shit nobody wanted to fuck anymore.
In social media years, he was 972 years old.
If he had actually cared, he might have disgusted himself. But he kept trying. For some reason, there was still that ember in the back of his mind that told him that his day had not yet been played out. There were still a few minutes left on the clock for him to get that final goal. Maybe the reality of it was that not only had the buzzer gone off, but even the last people sweeping up after the game had already gotten into their cars and driven off for the night.
Call it low-grade narcisism, call it delusions of grandeur. He often thought about why others got the shot and he never did. He didn’t want to be an influencer anyway. He saw them as some kind of bottom feeding oceanic cadaver worms. But he wouldn’t have minded one bit if he could have gotten paid to go cool places and see cool shit. Which would be anybody’s dream, he supposed. The real difference was that most people didn’t have much to say about their experiences, and he sure as hell did. Just once, he thought, he would like to ride the bubble to the top before it burst.
It was one thing to peak in your early years and live on the faded glory of high school, but it was another thing altogether to realize that you had been driving through your life and missed all the exits. The tank was low, the needle was just tapping E, and there was nothing more to be done.
It’s only about 85% autobiographical. So that counts as fiction.