“Unfriended” by Patricia Bailey
We’d like to present a new Feature Story here at Metro Fiction. Please check the Welcome page for more information about us. This week, we learn about how to maintain a virtual afterlife.
Please enjoy our Feature Story: “Unfriended” by Patricia Bailey:
I was on Facebook when I learned that you died. Somewhere among the “Eating grilled cheese… yum!” and “God bless our troops” status updates was a “sad-faced emoticon RIP Bob”post from Claire. Of course it was followed by a piling on of what happeneds and OMGs and hugs, so it took me a moment to realize that they were talking about you. “Dropped dead at the Costco,” someone reported. “In between the lifetime-supply boxes of condoms and the jumbosized jars of Advil. He was clutching one of those giant licorice sticks and just fell over. An annurism or anuism – ah, I can’t spell for crap – a blood clot in his head,” they added.
Whatever it was, it was quick and lethal and so unexpected that the day was filled with random postings by friends reflecting on all the ways your death affected them. Many of these posts were coupled with distressed comments about how they hadn’t seen you in years. You would be happy to know that Julie from high school went on and on, bemoaning the fact that you were the one that got away, and posted “*crying*” several times throughout the day. Of course, Julie only talked to you once in the two years you sat next to her in Spanish class, and that was to say not to sit so close, but still. What’s more real than virtual tears?
I guess it was kind of neat to see all those posts on your wall. Tributes to your wisdom and depth of character, and comments about what a great man you were. Well, most of them anyway. Martha called you “a dirty cheating scum-sucking liar” but you can’t really blame her for that – the doctors are still adjusting her meds. And Raymond admitted that he hadn’t talked to you since high school but hoped that you “lived long enough to mend your bullying ways so heaven just might let you in.” He is a minister at the state penitentiary up in Salem now, so I guess he’s walking his talk or talking his walk or something like that. No need to take it personally.
Things died down by the day of your funeral, though. It’s nearly spring after all. People are still working their New Year’s resolutions, and time is short if you want to post pictures of yourself at the gym while you’re still bothering to go. A few late-comers joined your friend’s list-just slipping in under the wire, I guess. Perhaps you okayed them in a fit of Kumbaya before you went shopping that fateful day, or maybe your mom added them after you passed. In either case, I must admit that it was a bit weird to see that you are friends with Marcus and Jason. Remember how awful they were to us at graduation? (Class of 1994 rules! LOL). I just hope you don’t expect me to friend them. At least not yet.
Oh, and about your funeral. I was there catching dirty looks from your mom and Aunt Cathy. You never told them that thing with the car wasn’t my fault, did you? I talked to Thomas, the dude who bartended at the Silver Slipper back in the day, accepted a huge bouquet of lilies from Grandma Sharon (“They’ll just go to the funeral director and Lord knows he’s taken enough this week”) and shook hands with the guy who pumps gas at the Texaco. He was pretty choked up. Out of your 537 Facebook friends, two managed to make the service – and sadly, Julie was not one of them. When I got home, I checked your wall, but it was pretty quiet. Your horoscope promises that “Your confidence will be at an all-time high because of recent events,” so I guess that’s something. And your How Hot Are You? meter has you pegged at 98% hot. I hope that doesn’t mean what I think it does.
I guess I should log off and get some dinner now. I’ll be sure to poke you from time to time, just to see if you’re still paying attention. And I’ll tag some of the pictures I have of you. Seeing your face pop up on my wall will make it seem like you’re still here watching my back in Mafia Wars. Rest in peace, old friend.
Patricia Bailey lives in Klamath Falls, OR where she spends most of her time watching people, making up conversations, and scribbling on sticky notes. She has been the recipient of a Fishtrap Fellowship (2011) and the Edna L. Holmes Fellowship in Young Readers Literature from Oregon Literary Arts (2013).
Tags: metro fiction, patricia bailey, short stories