a short story by Jeremy C Kester (all rights reserved)
She was quiet as she looked at the dish in front of her. I wasn’t paying much attention to her as Instagram had my attention piercing my brain through the digitized images transferred to the screen of my phone. Honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered much if I was, she had already made up her mind by then. Only I didn’t know it at the time.
I was scrolling through another update after having posted the meal in front of me with the caption: “Enjoying great food with even better company!” I added a few witty hashtags for extra effect.
As soon as it loaded, I was back to scrolling through a barrage of models, actors and actresses, art, and the random images that decorated my feed.
A sigh came from her as she absently poked at her food. Once again I really didn’t notice it. I didn’t notice that she was looking out towards the couple that sitting across the restaurant from us. What I did notice was that the one model I followed had posted a series of new bikini pics. I liked them. Then I clicked over to view her stories.
All the while, Jancie was looking out over the crowd. Plenty of other people were all engrossed in their phones. Why was it such a big deal anyway? Not like we would’ve talked about anything useful. She always wanted to talk about philosophy… specifically about that crap, what is it? Stoicism or some shit that she’s been reading lately. Or she’d want to talk about some weird dig that they were doing in some other far away country about some other ancient civilization like we should even care about. Those people didn’t have iphones or 4K TVs or cars. They lost; we won.
What I didn’t get was how it was possible that they could have been happy given that I normally felt like shit and that was even with all this stuff.
“Are you going to put that down?” Jancie asked, interrupting my thoughts.
“Sure,” I said with no intention of doing that. I moved over to Snapchat as soon as I ran out of interesting posts on Instagram. I waved dismissively.
“Really,” she said as she stood up. “I’m done.”
“Oh, OK,” I said absently thinking that she was done with her food and just going to the bathroom.
Honestly, I don’t even know if I was thinking that or not. Anyway, she left and I really didn’t notice until the waitress came back, some sloth-looking woman obviously in her 40s or some shit, and she asked if I wanted the check. I looked at her, then back at the plate that Jancie left. It was full of food. Like she never even ate a bite.
I wondered just when she left. I didn’t remember. I tried texting her, then calling her. I got no answer. Eventually I let the waitress know I was done. I was a little stressed. Not even the notifications to all the likes and comments were getting through to me. I looked around, embarrassed that she would have left me like that, but besides the waitress, I can’t be sure that anyone even noticed.
It wasn’t until later, after I got home to find all her things gone that I checked my notifications. Because that’s what I did when I was feeling stressed, confused… I checked social media. It made me feel connected. And there it was, from Jancie:
“Since this is the only way you’ll bother to listen to me. I’m leaving you, you piece of shit. Enjoy your digital life. I want a real one.”
I blocked her. I couldn’t have that tarnishing my brand.