Nothing To Write #1 - in which I try to flesh out the NTH world by writing a non-canon story within the same dystopic universe.
Poppy was never alone. Luckily, she only felt alone.
"Introversion," as it was officially classified in the DSM-IX, "doesn't have to be a life sentence, Poppy. We can help you." Eden placed a hand on her shoulder, which she instinctively pulled away. "We're here for you..." 4,072 faces on the video streams behind them nodded in agreement. "...All of us." Eden gives her an exquisitely rehearsed smile. "Will you let us help you?"
Poppy looked up to the screens. 8,144 eyes looked back. After what would have been a long silence, if it weren't for the live chat pinging every second with a new message commenting on the silence, Poppy finally spoke.
The notifications flooded in. Marcus Rodriguez loved your moment. Taylor Beckerman loved your moment. Alicia Yu commented "Aw, she's so cute!". Eden turns to Poppy, and gives her literally the exact same smile, Carly Johnson loved your moment. down to the slight cheek tug and batting eyelids. Carly Johnson no longer loves your moment. Poppy cringes. Eden wants to comfort her, remind her to be strong and ignore the haters... but that won't make for good video content. Jim Ngo loved Alicia's comment about your moment. Eden spins around to face Camera #45.
"Poppy Gardner, let's give your attitude a makeover!"
Cue musical title sequence.
The title sequence lasts 15 seconds. That's all the time Poppy and the host of their brand-new series, Let's Lift Poppy Gardner, have before the cameras come back on.
"Poppy," Eden says looking directly at her guest, rather than at a slight angle so the camera gets her good side. "I'm really sorry, but if we pull this off, you can finally get away from all this."
Poppy raises a finger, asking permission to talk without talking. Eden ignores it. There's no time. "Cure your introversion. Get loved. Get rich. Become my assistant host. We both get a year's worth of Commercial Breaks."
A year's worth? Privacy, at last.
Poppy tries to nod in such a manner that it says "I understand" without it looking like it's saying "I agree." She ends up shoving her chin into her collarbones.
Her show finally starts.
"Alriiiiight, Poppers!" Eden knows she hates being called that.
"Let's hear your sob story. What horrible event happened in your early childhood Yin Chan commented "Why's she looking at her boobs?" that's caused you to become such a filthy recluse?"
"Uh." Poppy jolts her head back up. "What."
"A tragic heartwrenching backstory that cleanly and concisely explains your singular personality flaw." Eden's worrying. She even forgets to Aaron Tacovsky replied to Yin's comment. "Well, who isn't? ;)" bat her eyes before doing the cheek tug.
"Oooookay then? Right. Kiddy memories. I guess when I was younger, I tried talking to people? Get to know them personally. But every 107 peeps loved Aaron's comment. time I try to open up to them, they just reply with stupid, short, so-called 'funny' comments and--"
Poppy gets cut off.
"Fascinating! But now, a word from our sponsors."
The cameras cut off.
I started out writing this story off the prompt that "Only the rich can afford privacy". This naturally evolved into Commercial Breaks as the only kind of privacy you can buy here. Also in this story, sort of playing around with the idea of Introversion seen as a mental illness, and Poppy wanting to actually connect with people, but the lack of privacy means all conversations are limited to shallow stupidity. This story was meant to be a lot longer, ending with Eden connecting with Poppy and telling deeply personal stories -- which Poppy betrays for social status by selling out Eden's private stories. But then I got lazy & never made it past Part 2/4. But, on second thought? Just this amount is still good. So, I'm posting it right here right now.