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The Unfollowed

A story of heartbreak, longing, and betrayal on IPO day.*

New York City. November. The wind tickled Jack’s ears as he rushed toward the Stock Exchange, but he barely noticed. This was the day he’d been waiting for, the day his whole life had been leading up to. IPO day. In just a few short minutes, he’d watch Patrick Stewart ring that bell and he’d be rich—richer than his wildest dreams; richer than he thought he could ever be; richer than, literally, Samoa. The thought terrified and excited him. Think of all the selvedge denim that he could buy! He became so lost in the reverie that he nearly walked past the massive stone edifice of the Stock Exchange building; in fact, he was still in a denim-related stupor when he walked in through the massive doors, past the crowds of people.

And then, something stopped him in his tracks. Ev. His partner, his friend, his enemy, sometimes all at once. They’d hurt each other so many times Jack had lost count. But seeing him stirred the same feeling in Jack that he’d felt when they first met, back at Caffe Centro in 2005. Jack was a college dropout who owned at least one T-shirt with his phone number on it. Ev was older, more experienced. He knew the startup world, he knew San Francisco—but most importantly, he knew how to love.

Jack drew in a short, sudden breath at the memory. He had to remind himself that that was then. They were different people now. They’d unfollowed each other—metaphorically, at least. Ev had gotten Jack fired, and Jack had gotten Ev fired. (Neither of them knew WTF had happened to Biz Stone, but they vaguely guessed it was bad.).

They’d hurt each other a way only they knew how.

But even though they were now at different companies, living different lives, there was a part of Jack that hoped they’d see each other at the bell-ringing—even just from afar, even just for a moment. And there he was, handsome as ever, standing surrounded by traders and stock officials. Ev. His Ev. For a moment, Jack thought they’d caught each other’s eyes, but he must have been imagining it. Or was he?

***

The ceremony passed like the blur that was Twitter’s early years. It had been hard on both of them, Jack knew. And suddenly, he wanted to laugh. All of this—the money, the power, the closets full of denim—was so absurd. It was crazy! He wanted to laugh, and he wanted to laugh with the only person who he knew would understand. But he couldn’t.

As he walked out of the building, he was taken by an uncontrollable melancholy. Jack had never felt so alone, and this was saying something for someone who’d made a systematic effort at alienating everyone he knew. He’d lost the one thing that was important to him; it was as though the last several years had been one big fail whale—except the problem here wasn't overloaded servers but rather an overloaded heart. The harsh November wind that had tickled him only an hour earlier now felt like torture.

But then, out of the corner of his eye, Jack saw something else. It couldn’t be—but wait: It was! A little blue bird—a literal little blue bird—landed on his shoulder, and Jack knew what he had to do. There was no turning back now.

“Evvvvvv!” he screamed, running back into the building. “Ev!,” he screamed again, retweeting himself. He screamed and screamed but he couldn’t find Ev. And then he had an idea: Pulling his phone out of his pocket, he started frantically typing: @-e-v.

And then the day’s second miracle happened. As soon as he finished his message, he heard that familiar chirp, the chirp he’d heard from so many @-replies. It was coming from right behind him. He whirled around, and there he was. Kind, loving Ev. Jack stared at him for a moment, searching for the words. “I need to tell you the truth.” he stammered. “The truth—” He collected himself. This would take more than 140 characters.

“The truth is,” Jack said, a single tear in his eye, “the only canoe I want to be in is one built for two.” Ev nodded. He understood, he always did. And suddenly, all the fights, all the betrayals, all the backstabbing, floated away like so many hastily deleted tweets. Ev looked into Jack’s eyes, looked away, looked back again. He mussed Jack’s already perfectly mussed hair. He was crying, too.

“I wish I could fav this moment,” he finally said.

Jack powered down his phone. All the updates he needed were right here in front of him.

fin

 

*all fictional. Probably.

 

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