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River of Hearts

Saturday 6th July, Story #188/366

By L.C. SchäferPublished 16 days ago Updated 10 days ago 3 min read
River of Hearts
Photo by Valerie Elash on Unsplash

At school, I wished I was popular, confident. I envied good-looking, well-adjusted kids. Unlike my friends, I wasn't allowed a smartphone, or social media, making me feel like an outsider.

When I got a phone, I used socials to reinvent myself and boost my confidence. It felt great! Then... familiar insecurities crept in. She's sexier than me. He's funnier. Everyone's more interesting, more toned, with better skin. Even with filters doing heavy lifting, I still lacked some special something.

My mediocrity now spelled out in measly handfuls of little red hearts, while others earned rivers of them.

In cyberspace, where I could be anything, I was still a loser.

When it was time to upgrade my phone, the sales guy reached under the counter and fetched a shiny pink monstrosity.

"This is new," he said, "Great deal. Seven-day trial. Here, read the contract." Swiping and tapping, he pulled it up on the screen. "Continued use after seven days implies acceptance, payment will be taken from then."

I looked gorgeous in every shot. My following grew immediately.

Day eight, I got a huge pimple on my chin. It happens, right? I'd airbrush it out. When I snapped some shots, it wasn't there. Auto filter?

Next day, it was bigger, and joined by another.

I was soon struggling with acne. Then, the scars. Those were joined by moles, perpetually greasy hair, and bristling hairs joining my brows. Thick black hairs sprouted elsewhere on my face, too. Plucking them was like battling a hydra; two would replace each one I wrested from my chin. 

Of course I read the contract. (Eventually.) To cancel: stop using the phone. Cancellation is permanent. Nowhere does it say if these changes are reversible. I returned to the shop, but he wasn't there. The staff didn't know what I was talking about. Pulling my hat over my face, I sloped home.

I had crow's feet before I turned twenty-three. My hairline receded. My molars falling out caused my front teeth to shift, leaving a gap. I gained weight, but only in the real world.

I'm hiding in the attic. Lank, pitted, grey. But there's a version of me that's gorgeous, youthful, and adored.

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Word count excluding note: 366

Submitted on Saturday 6th July at 19.26

Quick Author's Note*

First, and most importantly: thank you so much for reading my story! The ha'penny that Vocal will toss in my hat for your eyeballs landing on this humble piece will be well-spent.

If you enjoyed this one, the very best compliment you can give me is to share it, or read another!

A Year of Stories: I'm writing a story every day this year. This one continues my 188 day streak since 1st January.

Please do consider lending your support to the other creators who are also on this madcap "a story every day" adventure. They are putting out excellent content every day!
Rachel Deeming
Gerard DiLeo

Please do leave me a comment: I reciprocate as many as I can. Leaving a comment makes that easier.

The story behind the story: Oh boy, so many things going on here! Most obvious, probably the nod to Dorian Gray. I've been wanting to do a reverse Dorian Gray for a while. What if the person aged and deteriorated while the image of them out in the world stayed gorgeous? Isn't this truer, in a way, to modern life? I also wanted to tap into the need for external validation so many people have, worsened by the Internet, and ubiquitous in younger generations who have not lived without it.

Fun fact about this one - the first draft was well over 600 words! The pruning was harder than the writing for this one.

If you want some similar tales, try:

Remember, kids; even the girl in the magazine doesn't look like the girl in the magazine.

Thank you!

Thank you again, most sincerely. Especially if you are one of the wonderful people who has been staunchly reading these daily scribbles since the start of the year. I see you, and appreciate you very much indeed!

Edited to fix formatting

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Young AdultShort StoryMicrofictionFantasy

About the Creator

L.C. Schäfer

Book-baby is available on Kindle Unlimited

Flexing the writing muscle

Never so naked as I am on a page. Subscribe for nudes.

Here be micros

Twitter, Insta Facey

Sometimes writes under S.E.Holz

"I've read books. Well. Chewed books."

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Reader insights


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Comments (13)

  • Alexander McEvoy15 days ago

    That was viscerally terrifying. I'm half tempted to go check the mirror now, though my followings are small. Wow, LC! I barely have the words for this!

  • This sounds like a short Goosebumps story (R.L. Stine!) well done! Enjoyed

  • Cathy holmes16 days ago

    The rampant need for validation. I think it affects all to a certain degree, some generations more than others.

  • Caroline Craven16 days ago

    I was thinking Dorian Grey and then I saw your note. Very clever and it’s true how pictures can be manipulated to look very different!

  • Hannah Moore16 days ago

    Very much got the Dorian Grey vibes here. I just don't get filters. I'd be always aware I was going to be a disappointment in the flesh. Or worse, a source of glee.

  • I feel that's a win. Because like she can be famous on the Internet and no one would disturb her is she went out in public because she looks nothing like the photos

  • I was thinking Dorian Gray in reverse before I read that! Perfectly done! Perhaps more scary is that the dangers of Social Media make this more true to reality than false.

  • John Cox16 days ago

    Absolutely brilliant Dorian Gray reversal, LC! Loved it!

  • Andrea Corwin 16 days ago

    Whoa, that was some contract! And pruning is always .... time-consuming? difficult? in-depth editing at its finest.

  • D.K. Shepard16 days ago

    Excellent reversal to make it applicable to modern society! It will be interesting to see how the generation growing up immersed in social media will turn out…😬

  • Rachel Deeming16 days ago

    I was thinking modern Dorian Gray parable! I worry one day soon I will wake up with a thick beard - but that's nothing to do with phones.

  • Harbor Benassa16 days ago

    Great twist on Dorian Gray! I picked up on the inspiration immediately! I think it's interesting that the main character knew she had a way out by stopping use of the phone but chose to continue. That detail provided a great parallel between this story and the original, because as the main character's public image improves, not only does the proxy deteriorate physically, but the person they are on the inside does as well.

  • Gerard DiLeo16 days ago

    A great reverse--and comtemporary--Dorian Grey. Well done. I'm looking for the writing version of that app. AI? (Artificial Incredibleness?)

L.C. SchäferWritten by L.C. Schäfer

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