“@selfie #selfie” by Soniah Kamal
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.) This week, Timothy Gager brings us on a long trip back home.
This week, Soniah Kamal explores a drug of our modern age: the selfie.
“You need to build your confidence,” he says. “You need to build your self-esteem. You need to build a @better-you. For a @better-us #selfie-rule.”
The fotofone arrived in the mail. He handed it to me even though our hands didn’t touch. I took out the slim fotofone in the no-slip cover. I took out the instruction booklet. There are the poses, but first you have to master the angles with which you hold your @new-best-friend, the #best #vice-grip-grasp, the way a pout looks head-on versus from the top looking down.
The top looking down makes me look thinner and so #preferred-shot. The first time I didn’t dare take off my glasses; the goal is to get to @glamour-shot until @glamour-shot is just #another-ordinary-day. The manual is right: it has become easy to log the waking moments of my life. #Tips: Think of it like a diary in which your face is the story while the narration is clothes, hairstyle, makeup, the state of your stare.
My eyes adjust to myself quick enough. I learn to foto myself knuckle by knuckle, eye by eye, tooth by tooth until I can capture a #perfect-screen-shot. Good job, he says, see, it’s #easy. Which is not true because there is a cost to fotoing oneself day in and day out and even at night when I get up to pee: I’m beginning to like myself, which means it’s getting harder to like you. Or anyone else. Or their #fotos. I see their #faults, how they miscalibrate the camera angle, how they misinterpret the shades of day, the glares of night.
Sometimes someone else’s foto is uncomfortably similar to mine and so I’m lost to hours of innovation which means more cleavage, a bluer wig, sometimes a deadpan face which, amidst all the spread-eagled smiles, comes across as a #demure-nudie and which I will post @the-real-me. He says “every me is the real me” and I chide him for being such a #novice: there is only one foto that can represent anyone whole. Hunting for @the-real-me on this mini screen is like standing out in a crowd, but I will keep #trying or #die.
This is a contest, but one which is @me-against-me for @the-best-me, which will be a #revelation-to-me. He says that, when he gave me the fone, he didn’t think it would be like this. Last night, in bed, he whispered, “What are you doing?” I told him to carry on, that taking a @flushed-me has nothing to do with his act of love and devotion. He stopped, turned his back to me, but I turned my back to him too, angry that he was angry at me for #loving #myself.
I love myself. This is a huge and very valid step on the path to building my @self-confidence. At birth we should all demand for fotofones to be Velcroed to our wrists and ankles like rattles. Love yourself first, then love others = #problem-free-world.
What is your problem? Return my fotofone. Give. It. Back. I didn’t push you that hard. Ok. I’m sorry. I should have tried to break your fall instead of snapping-up the look on your face. But, you have to admit, it’s a #classic-shot. You’re wrong: I am not a part of my fotofone. It’s a part of me. The best part. It sees me in ways you obviously can’t-won’t-don’t. It gets me. It captures me. And that’s all right. It’s all right. I’m all right. And because I’m all right, we’ll be all right. It’s fine. I’m fine. It’s good. I’m good.
Why aren’t you good?
We’re all in this together. #Smile.
ClickClickClick, the perfect soul food to feed @us #forever. There’s no addiction like the addiction to oneself also known as @self @love, my fotofone drinking up my time, sip by sip, slurp by slurp, a long shot, a gulp where I’ve clicked an eye, half my mouth, the hair on my chin which I can edit out: smudge, blur, fade, erase until I have become what a perfect @Selfie is meant to be: not blemish free but free from blemish, not a lie but a truth told in a different way #self-art #camera-POV. I did not mean to push you away. You are coming between me and my Selfie. Yes. It is all about me. You wanted it that way.
“You need to let go of yourself,” he says. “You need to tone down your self-esteem. You need to build a @lesser you for a @betterus #sabotageselfie.”
SONIAH KAMAL’S debut novel, An Isolated Incident, is forthcoming in July 2014 from Fingerprint! Publishing, an imprint of Prakash Books. ‘Hairy Potter’, her collected social satire column written for the national newspaper, The Daily Times (Pakistan), is available on e-readers. Soniah was awarded the Susan B. Irene Award from St. Johns College, and she is the 2014 Paul Bowles Fiction Fellow at Georgia State University. Her short stories, essays and book reviews are published in the US, Canada, Pakistan, and India, and have received nods in national newspapers such as Dawn, The Hindu, The Daily Star, The Daily Times, The Tribune, and publications such as Newsline, Ms. Magazine, and Bust Magazine, amongst others. Soniah interviews authors for ArtsATL.com, Atlanta’s premiere online arts publication. Her twitter handle is @soniahkamal. For more see www.soniahkamal.com.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Jun 19, 2014
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