Social Genius

A series of connected short stories dedicated to the power of words and social media. Can be read in any order if you dare.

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1. (v.) Meraki

 

Cut me open

And I bleed flowers

As though they are

Postage stamps

To your heart.

 

Skim your knee

And thorns splash

Onto the pavement

As easily as pottery shavings.

 

Together we make a rose,

And some would call us beautiful.

 

It’s the latest poem to be stamped onto pavement, the words coming alive in swashes of chalk. They will be washed away by the coming rain, but they have their temporary permanence for all of about five hours if the weather channel is to be believed. It’s one in a series, a poem book written on concrete slabs and ugly jungles.

With one click the writer posts it to their Instagram account, two hundred followers will see it if it doesn’t end up on the discovery page. The writer goes by @raven.e and with a smile, they walk away.

On the way home the writer scrolls down their feed with a mild curiosity, their screen blurred by red chalk smears. They find an advert for an app and idly click through to the IOS store. Their wonder is peaked, and no bank details or free trials are needed for what it boasts.

It connects the writer to more followers, allows them to communicate across the globe to receive feedback and beta readers while chatting about writing woes and social matters. It’s the first point of contact after their writing notebook when they wake and just before they go to bed.

They don’t see the progress it has given them.

Until they walk down the street and there is the flowers poem reflected on a garage door, in different paint and different handwriting, tagged with gratitude from the artist. They feel the world itch at their skin, covering them with warmth and they remember how they had gotten here in the first place. When the rain patters down windows and the next day they go to the location where the chalk had been planted, the words are still there. They have simply been covered by the same Plexiglas that protects the likes of Banksy’s work.

The world crowds around them again.

Eventually, Instagram notifications become their alarm clock, the two hundred doubled to five hundred.

 

I married my bed this morning,

Pressed my ring finger into my pillow

And rolled over to dance the first dance of many.

 

Our honeymoon is the moment of reprieve

Between too hot weather,

The windows open to allow a sinful breeze

And breathless sigh.

 

I lie here for hours because I don’t

Have the energy to

Commit to another.

 

No relationship like this

Has criticised or broken my heart.

No sheets and comforter

Could drum up the lies.

 

They don’t judge for my rainy days,

Where smears of tears

And crumbs serenade

Our relationship.

 

I married my bed to prove that I couldn’t

Get up

And divorced it when my depression

Blew away.

 

Five hundred turns to one thousand and one thousand turns to three thousand. With each poem, the follower and like counter escalates to monumental heights. Then within one day a magazine DM’s them to be featured in an article, two poems and a quick interview about inspiration. They leap up from their chair, open the windows and breathe their happiness into the misty morning. Emailing the magazine back with the poems and the questions is nothing. It takes two hours of decision making and tearing out their hair, but that is nothing compared to cloying anxiety and clawing worry. They pick two poems from their documents vault, words and metaphors never published online and it feels like exhaling, although stressfully. It runs in the magazine the following week and the follower count increases again.

“Five thousand followers,” they murmur into the posters hanging on their walls. They laugh with such ferocity that they run out of oxygen, collapsing onto their bed in exhilaration.

“Who is @raven.e? People are asking today as the anonymous Instagram poet has rocketed to stardom here in the UK. Now with 7.3K followers, people have been blown away by the metaphors and relatable content. Some even call them the Literary Banksy because many of their poems can be seen in the original handwriting around London,” a news presenter croons out, shuffling their papers before moving onto breaking news. But they had a segment, they were on television, their name slurred around red and green pixels.

The writer cannot believe their luck.

Eleven thousand.

Fifteen.

Nineteen thousand.

Their days are soaked in popularity. The world rushes by them in a blur and the slap of converse against the wet pavement. Their words have become decorated in painted flowers by fans, pictures and signatures and words of thanks. They are art, and they transform the world.

 

If a genie told you

That you had three wishes

You would hold them to your

Chest and think

For moments,

Perhaps for

Years before deciding.

 

What do you treasure most?

Money, life,

The sluggish hearts

Of the parents

Who birthed you.

 

Where would you most like to be?

The garden of Eden

Or his arms.

 

The question on everyone’s lips is ‘who are you?’

But that is a secret that the writer keeps close to their chest. They do television interviews with a distorted voice and darkened face, trying not to vibrate off of their desk chair as they answer the questions. They chuckle nervously when identity comes up and laugh gracefully when they compare them to literary greats.

This is all that they have ever wanted, power no longer belongs to the one per cent of those who are noticed but to all. They sing their pleasure out to the world, inspiring others to uptake the mantle, and looks are not needed when a brain gives all of the power.

The writer tells the man who comes into the arts and crafts store often and sits at the desk. The man – Harry – always talks to the writer as though nothing needs effort, and every syllable is a symphony that crosses lips and wood. Harry is overjoyed to share this secret, the joy passing as they breathe so close to one another, the store dark around them as the last customer exits. Love is an inspiration as much as it is power, the uplifting heat when cold seeps in and doesn’t leave.

They act like vigilante as they sweep London streets, searching for ugly corners to make beautiful again.

Harry does not once try to persuade them to reveal their face. In his words, their soul is already blared across thousands of phone and computer screens. He ponders about the possibilities and writes the chances in the slats of the wood in the writer's apartment. But persuasion isn’t his weapon.

Twenty-two thousand.

Twenty-five.

Thirty-three thousand.

They are on the discovery page of Instagram, featured in the Guardian and many literary magazines and this has never felt so good. Words are the IV line into their veins, giving them life during those moments where their brain is filled with static and nightmare sounds.

The itch becomes too much, television screens and million counts too much to bare and they give in. It has never been so addictive, so easy to fall into something so rich.

The writer agrees to go to an open mic event in their local town. Nervousness grips them and cradles around their spine like it is a sickness germinating around bone fragments. Their stage is lit by only one light and their steps sound like gunfire as they walk up to the mic and cough into it to give the room some hope. They crack open their notebook, the one where all of their poems, the pieces of ideas and moments, live. They say their name to a hundred or so people, faces reduced to possibilities, and their identity is sold. Then they turn the book around and tells them their story.

They don’t believe in it at first, but they give them proof, words released as though they are birds free of capture for the first time. This is their prayer; the ceiling is their God. Camera crew, phone screen and flashlights are on their face, illuminating the perfect burden in their tongue.

 

Can you feel the battle across my chest?

The war stitched into my ribcage

Like artillery scars,

Or artist paint.

Pain is the dictionary in my brain

And you, my dear,

Are the D-Day I have been waiting for.

 

Their words stretch out, elongated and rapturous. All they can feel is what the Greeks call Meraki, a verb meaning to leave a piece of yourself (soul, creativity or love) into your work.

Fifty thousand.

Sixty-six.

Seventy-one thousand followers.

All because of some reckless poetry and a click.

 

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