Your ex-boyfriend’s now ex-wife posts an update to Facebook: she’s a Businesswoman now on account of selling keto coffee. You are fascinated by this development, and not simply because she posts a long diatribe that she is finally doing things for herself, a nod to your long-ago ex, but because of the ferocity with which she makes these declarations. From what you can see in the posted photos, the keto coffee comes in a shiny packet, and there are flavors. She also has keto-friendly broths for meals so an entire day’s worth of sustenance can be sucked from a mug. You gather from her posts that maximum consumption of these keto packets will result in the consumer’s loss of body mass and contribute to skyrocketing socioeconomic status while supporting Women, particularly Mothers.
Her Facebook feed is cluttered with motivational phrases in terrible typography set against backgrounds of the cosmic variety, some with glaring grammatical errors, and a shit-ton of glittery, jerking GIFs. I would rather starve declares one set against an image of a semi-ripe banana. Keep calm and keto on! Further digging reveals that she’s a member of a group employing copious hashtags, hashtags for everything so that others can find her, for breakfastlunchanddinner, for liquids. Flavored liquids. She posts each fluid meal: its container, a different mug each time with a catchy phrase on it, posed next to its accompanying packets. There’s so much writing — on the mugs, on the packets, scribbled onto the images — that you can’t swallow it all.
You can relate to her desire for a neatly packaged existence, for units of time measured in emptied containers. Limping to each milepost to enjoy the purported treat. She posts screenshots from an app where she tracks her ketones, her progress represented by a tiny flame orbiting a circle, at its center a smiley face. She explains, via emojis and GIFs, how she’s become an agent for the keto coffee, earning a living by selling the coffee. She posts a picture of a young woman with hair stretching to the backs of her knees: the magic coffee promotes healthy hair growth!
You think of her as she moves around the clock each day in her app and in her home, ketones emanating from her head and shoulders like a phoenix as she burns. She’s brain boosting. She’s eating a breakfast of eggs and bacon and cheese. You check for new gross meals throughout the workday, breaking up the hours spent at your desk, elbows melding into its surface until your body feels heavy, too heavy to move, so that you’re moments from melting into the fiberboard. She’s mixing a protein shake in a keto-themed cup. She’s drinking a hashtag-salted-caramel broth, which makes no sense.
Her progress sustains you for two weeks until she switches her profile to private. All you can see after she shuts you out is her profile picture, a recent photo with the words ketones for fuel. Your own apartment is darker without the outlet for your obsession, and you turn on more lamps as the Pacific Northwest days shorten and the darkness grows longer and deeper. She was the flame.
Suzy Eynon is a writer from Arizona. She lives in Seattle where she works at University of Washington. Her fiction and poetry are published in Newfound.org, Overheard Lit, Hungry Ghost Magazine, King Ludd’s Rag, and others. More of her work can be found at suzyeynon.com.