Ascent, Descent

by Shane Cubis

Honorable Mention: Flash 405, August 2016: “Connect”



I’m different on social media. And I’m different on each social medium. But she loves every facet of me. She loves the shoulderclapping endorser of Facebook. She loves the acerbic/silly tightrope I walk on Twitter, bantering with endorsed accounts for the sheer joy of interacting with celebrity. She’s intrigued by the boob-obsessed filth merchant of Tumblr, and impressed by the history-boarding past-delver of Pinterest—even if she doesn’t get how it works. Instagram sees her throwing lovehearts at my every filtered image, whether an artistically posed selfie or sneaky snap of some hilarious shop-shelf item. Google Plus is where we talk music, swapping film clips and trivia about bands from Australia and America. So far we haven’t connected on Ello, but I’m not much of an artist. More of a doodler in meetings, scrawls repurposed for wry Snapchat complaints about tedious co-workers. She always sends back the emoji that’s cry-laughing. Sometimes three of them.

“I’m going to be in your city next month,” she DMs me. “We should meet up for a beer.”

I agree, blithely, not really thinking about it: “I enjoy a woman who drinks beer. Let’s make it happen.”

She tells me it’s a figure of speech, but she’ll choke down a cider if it makes me happy. I tell her it’s beer or nothing, that’s the rule down here, and the conversation moves into flirty sparring before I drift off.

I kinda forget she’s coming until I see her Instagram triptych: a pre-flight cider at the airport bar, a close-up of the boarding pass, and a shot of her knees pressing up against the seatback pocket stuffed with safety cards, menus, and a media-loaded tablet. It hits me. She’ll be here within twenty-four hours.

“Message me when you land,” I comment.

She does, a day later, jetlagged but here. We arrange to meet at a pub near her hotel.

“Wear something sexy,” I say. It’s a running joke.

“Have a cider waiting,” she replies. “Not beer!”

I get there first, setting up in a booth and cycling through my social media. Which me is appropriate for this meeting? I’m sweating as I shuffle through conversational gambits.

It doesn’t matter in the end. I stand as she approaches, smiling like an American, hot as her photos and wearing something very sexy, as requested—and we both realize. I smell wrong to her. It’s OK. She smells wrong, too.

We’re friendly, but unfriended.


Shane Cubis is an Australian writer who used to run a national weekly lads’ mag but now sits alone in his lounge room with a laptop and a cube-shaped speaker for company.

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