The Hollow People


She was a twenty-something gym-addict free-soul flower-child, a trivial figure in a trifling world. She would often stop not only to smell the roses but to Instagram them too. She had led what most would call a privileged life, peppered with ponies and parties and princess-like things. She was beautiful in the way advertisements are beautiful – airbrushed and filtered layers coating a photoshopped personality at her core. She could make up her face but not her mind. If you asked her what her hopes and dreams were, she would say something along the lines of the typical white picket fence dream interspersed with the word “bae” and then #RelationshipGoals.

He was a twenty-something part-time model that could best be described as a child in a man’s body. He cared for nothing and everything at the same time; he was noble in thought yet weak in action. The sides of his head were shaved and he had a combover that was parted so sharply, one would think that his barber’s name was Moses. It was, by the way. He frequented a hair salon in the middle of Braamfontein under the guise of seeming more in tune with urban vibes. He was neither handsome nor beautiful and in fact looked like something that fell off the outside of a church, but his practised charm and oft-rehearsed lines easily seduced the drunk and the damned. His pastimes included seeing and being seen at premier events, scouring GoodReads for deep, dark and mysterious quotes to tweet and getting laid and getting paid.

They met on a park bench one fine summer’s day when she asked him for a light.

He looked up at her, momentarily startled from his intense gazing at his Twitter timeline as he feverishly refreshed it in the hopes that somebody would retweet his latest offering to the Twitterverse. He acquiesced to her polite request, of course, because denying someone the use of your lighter ranks up there with the Holocaust and broadcasted BBM messages on the list of dickish things to do. He watched her intently as she lit her cigarette, transfixed by her elegant extensions and her made-up face and the manner in which she lit it which was clearly based on an Angelina Jolie character in some long-forgotten movie. His thumb never stopped its downward flicking as he drank in her artificial beauty.

She sat down on the park bench next to him and flashed him a smile that was neither rare nor particularly well-done, for that matter. He returned it with a pre-programmed smirk reserved for photoshoots and parties and picking up potential.

“Hey there, stranger,” she said. “Hey yourself,” he replied.

They sat and spoke of mediocre things like the weather and celebrities and the meaning of life.

“You know, the Native Americans believe that a part of your soul is lost every time a photo is taken of you,” he said to her, parroting something he had just read on Twitter between his frantic fingering as she took a selfie.

“Maybe I don’t have any more soul left to lose,” she replied esoterically, as she took a sip of her Vitamin Water.

And then something happened.

A moment passed between them as they both stared into the other’s eyes and felt a yearning to scream into the other’s soul. To bleed out through the cracks in the cold porcelain walls they had constructed around their cores. To suddenly grab hold of the other’s shoulders and rebel with a rebel yell of “I fucking love you!” or “I fucking hate you!” or to ask forbidden thing such as “Tell me something that makes you cry?” or “Would you go back and change your worst and best decisions if it would lead to a different yet unknown reality?”. One moment they were impenetrable, invincible, untouchable. The next, their hearts were somehow beating outside their chests, exposed to the elements. A moment passed between them that was raw and real, a moment of bright hot ashes amongst the musty dust, a moment in which they shone like magnificent meteors amongst the sleepy plastic planets, like photons exploding in a shower of yellow blazes-

A moment so real, it was surreal.

It passed, of course, as moments are wont to do, and they left each other shortly afterwards, unsure of what had happened.

Later that night she would post a cryptic Facebook status detailing her experience in words that didn’t quite fit and then wait for the litany of likes to flood in.

Later that night he would tweet the lyrics of a song, possibly the Beatles but probably Drake, relating somewhat to his experience, his thumb constantly flicking downwards, never leaving the screen.


For More from MiB: check out his website.

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