Do it for the Gram

Submitted into Contest #144 in response to: Write a story that centres around an Instagram post.... view prompt


Contemporary Fiction Funny

Do it for the Gram

Quinton struggled against the wind and pulled the door shut behind him as he ducked into the Café. He brushed a hand through his hair, trying to reposition it after the wind ruined his perfectly coiffed side part. When he finished readjusting his tangled scarf, he noticed Katie behind the counter effortlessly multitasking a double espresso and an orange mocha Frappuccino.

Quinton hoped Katie would be back today. He opened Instagram and scrolled through her feed. She had just come back from a month-long trip to Thailand and had posted countless photos of her adventures.

“Hey!” Katie greeted Quinton cheerfully. “I haven’t seen you in forever.”

“Hey, you’re back! I was just checking out some of your pics. How was it?”

“It was epic. Totally life changing.” Katie replied excitedly.

“It looked awesome. I was thinking about taking a trip like that.”

Katie laughed and started making a Latte. “No offence, but that’s not really you. You’re a routine guy. I’m making your order already because it’s the same every day.”

She was right, but Quinton didn’t want to be considered a routine guy. That’s dangerously close to boring guy. “Well, things change.” Quinton replied. “I put Hazelnut in my Latte now.”

“Oh, so adventurous,” Katie mocked as she added a pump of Hazelnut and handed Quinton his Latte. “I’m not trying to be mean. It’s just, some people are like you and some people are like me.”

Quinton paid for his Latte and ambled to his usual spot by the window. He quickly turned and grabbed a seat in the corner instead. He sipped his Latte and squirmed. He hated hazelnut.

He couldn’t stare out the window, so he started reading up on Thailand. Maybe somewhere else, he thought after seeing an article about a tourist getting mugged in Bangkok. He was looking at hostels in Manila when he got an Instagram notification. Jason had just posted a picture. It was of Jason getting ready to bungee jump over a massive waterfall, smiling enthusiastically.

Jason was Quinton’s best friend in high school, but they had drifted apart in the last few years. Quinton liked the post and commented Awesome! I guess you got over your fear of heights. He scrolled through Jason’s feed, and it was flooded with pictures from exotic vacations, extreme sports and, what appeared to be his motorcycle. This wasn’t the Jason that Quinton remembered.

Within minutes of Quinton posting his comment he got a message from Jason. He was in town if Quinton wanted to catch up. Quinton quickly responded and felt hopeful. If Jason could go from a cautious person to an adventurous one, maybe Quinton could too.

Jason sent Quinton his address, but it was unnecessary. Jason was back at his parent’s house and Quinton remembered how to get their almost solely by muscle memory. They spent almost every weekend and most weeknights at Jason’s playing Fortnite, watching videos and goofing around.

When Quinton knocked on the front door Jason’s mom answered. She gave him a warm hug and a pat on the head. It was reassuring but sent him back in time ten years. She offered him chocolate milk just like she did when he was a developing sixteen-year-old. He politely declined and jokingly asked for a beer before being told Jason was in the basement.

“Hey buddy! How’ve you been?” Jason asked, leaping from the couch and bear hugging Quinton. Jason had been lounging in sweatpants and an old hoodie playing Call of Duty. The Xbox was the only new piece in the room. It was the same brown leather couch draped with a burgundy throw and Iron Man pillows. It was the same gaming chair, pine desk and rig, same glass coffee table, La-Z-Boy, and television.

“I’ve been alright, man,” Quinton said taking off his peacoat. “It looks exactly the same down here.”

“Yeah, I haven’t changed much,” Jason replied looking around the room. “You wanna game? We could crush some Minecraft like the old days.”

“Maybe later.” Quinton said and flopped down on the La-Z-Boy. “I need your help.”

“Yeah, of course, anything, Buddy.”

“I want to be more adventurous. I’ve been told I’m a routine guy,” Quinton bemoaned. “And I think I am. I guess I always have been. And you were too. We were never reckless and daring. We never took risks or ventured outside our comfort zone. But now you do. I checked out your Insta. You live this crazy, exciting life full of adventures. And hand gliding and bungee jumping and scuba diving. And I want that too.”

“Well, it’s expensive,” Jason said, jumping into the gaming chair.

“I know. Flights alone are ridiculous and all those excursions. Skydiving is like five hundred bucks!”

“No, I’m not talking about that.” Jason said while turning on the gaming laptop. “The service.”

“What service?”

Jason loaded a webpage for Masquerade Studios and invited Quinton over. “It’s an old factory covered in green screen. It’s like a thousand bucks, but they shoot you from all kinds of angles in different action positions and place you wherever you want. Surfing, wakeboarding, riding a camel. Whatever”

Quinton reads about Masquerade Studios, stunned. “Wait! you didn’t do any of those things?”

“Me? Like I’m going to jump out of a plane,” Jason scoffed. “I’ve never even been on a plane. But, to everyone that follows me, I have. To them, I’ve done tons of things I haven’t.”

“But-But, how has no one found out?”

“If it’s not on Instagram it never happened.” Jason explained. “If it’s on Instagram it happened. They’re also great pics for Tinder.”

Quinton frantically flipped through Jason’s Instagram feed. How could all these be fake? Quinton threw his face in his palms and shook his head. “What about all the pictures with you and the motorcycle? It looked like you rode everyday.”

“Oh, that,” Jason replied and paused thoughtfully. “I had to get rid of it after my accident.”

“You were in a motorcycle accident?” Quinton asked concerned.

“No! Of course not. Aren’t you paying attention?” Jason opened Instagram on his cellphone. “People expect you to embellish on social. We all do it.” Jason showed Quinton a picture of a cat in a tree being rescued by Jason. “You thought this was real? Look in the bottom right corner.” There was a small M.S. logo for Masquerade Studios. “They tag some of them.”

Quinton started pacing the room, while Jason picked up an Xbox controller and began playing again. Quinton opened Instagram and smirked at a picture of Katie kayaking. He couldn’t do what Jason did. Even if it was easier. He needed something real, a true adventure, not some photoshoot.

Quinton grabbed his peacoat and threw it on. “You’re taking off?” Jason asked without looking up from the screen. “You don’t wanna game a bit?”

“No, I’m good. I gotta figure some stuff out.” Quinton responded while googling heliskiing. He’d never skied but figured adrenaline would kick in once he jumped out of the helicopter.

“I don’t get it, man. What? You saw my pics on Insta and thought you’d catch me in between parasailing and portaging?”

“I don’t know,” Quinton lamented. “I’m not sure what I was thinking. I guess at the very least I thought you could hook me up with your bungee jumping guy.”

“I don’t have a Bungee Jumping guy here. That picture was taken in Nicaragua.”

“No, it wasn’t!” Quinton points out quickly. “I don’t understand how you can fake all that.”

“Masquerade can fake anything. They can even make it look like you were in the military.”

Quinton laughs and shakes his head while leaving. “You can’t fake everything.”

“Yeah, you can. I was dishonorably discharged.”

Quinton left Jason’s house discouraged. Jason didn’t teach him how to live an exciting life, he just showed him how to pretend. Quinton tightened his scarf and strolled down the sidewalk. On the other side of the street a toddler was riding a small bike with training wheels. The young boy swerved and shifted his weight, learning the motions of the bike, while his parent jogged a short distance behind.

Quinton smiled and thought maybe that’s what he needed. Training wheels. Instead of base jumping right away, he needed to ease himself into it. Start small and work his way up. Maybe he’d start with a simple hike.

Quinton opened Instagram and scrolled through Katie’s feed. He figured she’d have posted some hiking trails in the area. Quinton found a picture of Katie lumbering up a hill with a heavy backpack in tow. She was struggling but grinned proudly. “Nicaragua,” Quinton read the caption out loud and starred, bewildered at the photo. In the bottom right a corner a small logo displayed the logo: M.S.

May 07, 2022 03:48

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