The moment the shutter on the camera clicks, Dorian feels different. He is momentarily short of breath; it is almost as if, by capturing his image, the iPhone also drew the very air from his lungs.
“Preposterous,” he mutters to himself, and looks down at the picture he has just taken.
This, he realises, must have been how the accursed Narcissus felt, upon first catching sight of his own reflection in the river. Never before have his own eyes seemed so blue, his hair so golden, his lips so full.
It is, without a doubt, the perfect selfie.
“Don’t you dare hang up on me,” Sabina howls down the phone, like the proverbial banshee. “We are not finished here, you owe me an explanation!”
“Darling,” Dorian replies, in what he feels is his most reasonable tone, “I’m sorry if you got the wrong idea about me. But I’m just not looking to settle down. When did I ever say otherwise?”
“How cold you are,” she spits. “How cruel. So you think it’s alright to sleep with other girls? With other men? Do my feelings matter at all?”
Dorian ends the call.
“Needy, needy girl,” he whispers to himself, shaking his head. To take his mind off the whole debacle, he decides to check how many more likes his selfie has racked up. Twelve since he last looked. Satisfied, Dorian is about to return his phone to his pocket when he notices something. Something off.
He raises the phone to his face and squints. Impossible!
The picture has changed. His eyes are still blue, but paler; they have lost some of that trademark twinkle. His lips are still red, but they don’t look quite as full.
“How can this be?” He utters, but there is nobody in the room to respond, and of course the photo can’t very well speak for itself. Sabina called him cruel; this is a likeness of a cruel man. But that image was taken weeks ago, before he even met Sabina. Before he slept with her, and then her best friend, and then her brother.
But still, it’s undeniable – the picture has changed for the worst. Dorian shrugs, and puts his phone away. What does it matter? A glance in the mirror reassures him that in the flesh, he has never looked better.
Time is kind to Dorian, and unkind to those around him. With each year that passes, the selfie ages. With each heart he breaks, with every tramp he hits in his Mercedes, the eyes on the screen grow ever narrower and more flint-like, the smile gradually curling into a sneer. After a decade, it pains him to look at the photo at all – it has changed too drastically, reflects too much, while his own face remains precisely as it was.
There are two Dorians now, and over the years makes his peace with it, telling nobody his secret when they enquire after which face cream or cosmetic surgeon holds the key to perpetual youth. Not that anyone would believe him if he were to tell them the truth; that his withered soul is trapped in a magic photograph, belied by his own youthful, perfidious exterior.
He has long since removed the image from social media, obviously. He often wonders what would happen if he were to delete the selfie entirely. Would his every sin from those misspent years be returned upon him? Would his skin crack like parchment? Would he, god forbid, lose his hair?
Whatever spell the selfie has cast, it is a gift. To question or waste it would be a crime. And so Dorian vows to live as authentically as he can, pleasure and gratification his only commandments.
Instagrammed, immortal, and irredeemable.