I’ve been toying around with this concept for a novel a while now. Did a bit of an introduction! Hope you enjoy!
How much Benjamin liked what he saw could be found in the way he judged himself up and down in the bathroom mirror. First, he turned left, prodded the fat on the side of his hip, then did the same to the right. The way his finger sprang back out again, like bushing down on a memory-foam pillow, displeased Ben. Aged fat, judging by the density of the mass between bone and skin. Without a doubt, Benjamin’s overweight body caused him a great deal of shame. Sucking in didn’t help, it just made him look like wide oval instead of a wide circle, besides, he didn’t have the strength to keep that big gut sucked in always. It didn’t matter what the rest of him looked like; the first thing people thought of when they saw Ben, involves his unhealthy eating habits. Though, the condition of the rest of him certainly did contribute, at least a little, to his overall first impression. Greasy, dirt-blonde hair meekly hangs from atop his potato-shaped head, clinging to the sides of his pimple-face like an octopus desperately trying to hold on to a boulder during rough tides.
Gems amidst muck, a suitable description for the only appealing part one may pay attention to about Benjamin’s overall visage. His eyes. These are the kind of eyes that photoshop geniuses spend hours trying to produce in vanity photo-shoots. A green that can’t be compared to any corny gemstone or precious material. With any true treasure, however, it must be found. In Benajamin’s case, his eyes can only be found when he separates forehead fat from cheek pudge.
He had an appearance difficult to adapt to; luckily for him, he didn’t spend enough time around other people to give them the chance of judgement. Like many others in this technological era, cyberspace allowed Benjamin to be the person he wanted to be, and cram as many carbohydrates into his maw as he so desired. Psychologically, this fat lard convinced himself that every poor choice made in the real world, could easily have a pretty ‘cover’ thrown over it.
“I’m headed to the Gym,” he might say to one of his many lady followers. Little did they know, what he really meant goes along the lines of: “I’m about to mute your chat for enough time to convince you I was away at the Gym, but I’m actually just going to sit here and finish off my chicken wings so that I don’t get oily slime on my keyboard.” After Ben cleans his hands off enough to type again, always forgetting to pick out the crumbs from under his nails (Which he ends up chewing on later anyway), he might unmute the chat and say something like, “Man, I felt like I was the only one there. Had all the machines to myself, lol.” Of course, the reactions of praise from whomever he spoke tricked his internal chemicals to make him feel good about himself. Even if the life he created didn’t exist: who could call him out on it? It may as well be true.
What girl settles for an over-grown lima bean living in their mother-pod? Yes, to compliment poor Benjamin’s already unfortunate existence with a tasteful cliché: he lives in his parents’ basement. What used to be a recreational living space and laundry room: now a complete bedroom and bathroom for the chick that could never fly from the nest. At first, his parents seemed fully on board with the whole idea of staying an extra few years at home until confidence eventually plucks him away, but the notion has since grown less-appealing with Ben’s twenty-eighth birthday passing by.
Despite the many hundreds of times his parents have threatened to kick him out of he doesn’t start his own life, they just can’t bring themselves to following through and forcing him away. Benjamin had a troubling childhood. His weight gained him no friendships, and a whole bucket of bullies. Always a struggling little victim in his mother’s eye: he will always require babying. The generosity and patience of Mister and Mrs. Cole (Ben’s parents): two notions constantly taken for granted by their unmotivated son. With no idea what he wants to do or where he wants to go ‘when he gets older’, the Cole-family trio sits in limbo.
A resounding creek bounces off the walls of Benjamin’s little nook, created by an overburdened computer chair. If a reward existed where furniture could be commended for their outstanding performances, this chair would be the reigning champion ten times in a row. The arm-rests: naught but lazy limbs which loosely hung by each side; over time, Ben’s expanding thighs broke the sockets, leaving them impractical. The acne-laden oaf makes a few bold scoots forward; each time his rear lifts to jolt the seat forward, it lets loose an unintelligible scream of pain which humans can only acknowledge as a squeak. For everyone living above him, this noise symbolized two things. 1) Benjamin woke up and can now accept his lunch, or 2) Benjamin just returned from the bathroom. Any squeak before one in the afternoon indicates that he pulled an all-nighter.
A desperate stab at the computer’s on-switch, followed by irate tapping on the desk means all is not to accord with the pint-sized hippopotamus. An open phone on the un-made bed behind him, depicting a long wall of text from a female, confirms this. Sweat oozes from only the armpits and under-breast; adding fresh patches of hue to the other miscellaneous stains found on Ben’s sleep-shirt. When a blue screen pops up stating at a system update temporarily seizes his computer, two fists come down upon what appears to be a table. Plastic bottles, stiff tissues, and candy wrappers cover every inch of the desk; the only time when room is made upon it is when Benjamin swipes a corner-full of trash onto the floor and replaces it with trash-to-be. By the time Benji the Glutton manages to uncurl his sausage fingers and get the blood running through them again, the update completes.
Although the symbols on his keyboard’s buttons rubbed away long ago, Benjamin programmed his mind with the pristine whereabouts of each letter and number. Typing away through the dark nights trained him quite well. In a blur of movements, the password is typed in, and an instant messaging program pops up across the screen. After observing how quickly her son could type, Mrs. Cole often joked to her husband that Benjamin could be an Olympic racer if only the energy transferred to his pitiful excuse for legs.
Gulping down a wad of nervous saliva, Benjamin scrolls through a list of contacts: none of them bore notifications less than fifteen: popular for the wrong reasons. Britney, Samantha, Alie, Emily, Tania, Chloe: all female names. As the seconds rolled by, more notifications send a light ping through the speakers hidden beneath the plastic fallout of what looked like a child’s feast. The names scrambled as each new notification sent that particular girl to the top of the list, only to be taken over by another. It doesn’t take long to find the odd one out: Kat, with only one notification.
“I know who you are, and quite frankly, it makes me sick. I can’t believe you lied about who you are. That’s called Catfishing you know? It’s not right. You’re messing with people’s emotions. I’m going to make it my personal goal to talk to every single one of your followers and show them my evidence. You’re not getting away with this, Kevin- or should I say, Benjamin? Sick freak. This just goes to show that you -are- just like all the other guys. You aren’t as different as you say you are. Thanks for ruining my world. – Kat.” Attached to the bottom of the message is a screenshot of Benjamin requesting for edits to be made on a picture he used to serve as the mask to his cyber-identity. Most certainly, tact lacks in this instance. Foolish boy, to think that a few mere edits to an already existing picture might throw followers off his scent: karma in action.
The longer Ben stared at the message, the lower his heart sunk into his chest. His spine had been torn out and ice water filled its place. With a trembling hand, he dares to open the other messages.
“I told you my secrets… -Emily.”
“We were going to get married one day… -Samantha.”
“I hope you literally get hit by a car… -Britney.”
“LOL you’re so fat! -Tania.”
They all knew. Benjamin’s cyber life potentially ends here. All the relationships he’d been working on for the past eight years; all the memories and phone calls; all the emotions felt sat within a funeral coffin that embodied his instant messenger program, laid out for him to stare at with nothing but a quiver in his chin, and a sniffle at his button nose.
Protecting himself from real life consequences prompts Benjamin to delete every single profile he ever made. The last thing he needed: his parents brought into this humiliating mess. With everything deactivated and swept from the face of the internet, deleting his messenger account only remained. Plucking up the courage, the grief-struck man pushes his cursor toward the ‘Options’ button, treating it like a heavy paper-weight. On the way, he clicks once more on Kat’s chat box. He had one last thing to say.
“I’ll make it up to you, I promise.” The words typed are misspelled a few times, for the sporadic hiccups which make Ben’s entire torso bob up and down prove a difficult obstacle to work around. Immediately the bottom of the chat box displays the words, ‘Seen: 2:36 by Kat’. Three dots follow, indicating the girl’s reply is eminent.
Too afraid to see what she might have to say, Benjamin bolts his cursor around the screen and deletes his account then and there.
What could he do now? Any sane person might see this as a sign to break the cybernetic bonds and do something with their lives at last. Benjamin is not a sane person. At a steady pace, the cursor moves down the screen. Click: ‘Create New Account’; They never do learn.