His last Instagram post was him making his famous smoothie, which was the same as every smoothie, but he made his wearing only a small pair of boxer shorts, balancing his Instagram-famous pug on his bicep, and it was made using the new blender he’d just started selling.
It was called Blenditup. Internet trolls were quick to call it Blanditup, but he wasn’t bland, just annoying. Annoyingly chiseled, annoyingly plucky, annoyingly rich. And no steroid scandal in sight. People wanted to look like him, so they gave him their money, their time. Thankfully, his workouts were short, that was the point. He wanted to get the world fit, but also get rich doing it. He liked products and short walks on the beach, or better still, sprints. He liked making strangers do burpees in their living rooms.
It was a natural progression for him to go from internet fitness sensation/wellness “expert” to selling blenders on TV. He already had books, ghost written, but his face and body were on them, and that’s what people wanted him for, not his words, and he already sold water bottles and yoga mats on his website, so why not blenders? He was one of those men that was still in awe of electricity. His guilty pleasure was owning a George Foreman Grill. He thought it meant he couldn’t possibly be racist. No one could have known he was going to trip over the wire of one of his own blenders, hit is head on his gorgeous imported marble kitchen counter top, die moments after posting the video advertising said blender. It wasn’t the blender’s fault, so people still bought them. He’s just like us! the internet screamed, a clumsy fuck, dead from a blender related injury, but just like us.
No one saw that his living room, where he filmed all his videos, was filled with boxes of said blender, like something from the show Hoarders, ready to ship out, to wherever sold celebrity blenders.
Moments before, he’d been arguing with his Instagram-famous wife, famous for make-up tutorials, but also for showing off her chin acne, which she’d started a movement for. She was also the daughter of someone who made a famous panini press. That was how her husband got the blender deal. It was all about connections, electrical, internet. They were arguing about whether or not he should show the boxes. She thought it might be nice, so people could see his empire. He said he was his empire. He won and she helped him clear a corner of the room.
Balancing their dog on his arm was a last-minute decision, because they couldn’t get him to stay out of shot, but people liked the dog. The videos where he wandered in had more likes, so they made sure he wandered in more, hid bits of organic chicken breast in their pockets.
She would be filming, laughing at how amazing/dumb they all were, unaware he’d be dead minutes later and she’d have to post another video where she was holding said dog, crying into his fur, warning people about the dangers of blenders.
In between planning the funeral and doing her makeup tutorials and chin acne work, which was hard now that she was crying most of the time, so she mostly posted about waterproof products, grief-proof products, she still had to sell the blenders. The thought didn’t cross her mind that her husband’s ghost might have gone into one. The dog might have known, but wasn’t saying, he was also grieving, and had started a movement for grieving dogs.
The blenders sold out immediately after someone on Twitter pointed out that there was a chance they were haunted now. People started selling them on eBay: for sale, celebrity blender that may or not be haunted. The blender wasn’t a good blender, there were better blenders, most other blenders, but people wanted the internet fitness sensation/wellness “expert’s ghost. Believing in their personal fitness journeys wasn’t enough.
I mostly tried to avoid ghosts, even celebrity ones. I only had a Blenditup because I won it in a raffle at work. I wasn’t planning on using it. I planned on putting it on eBay, with or without the free ghost.
There had been two prizes in the raffle, a blender and a day off work. I wanted the day off work. I didn’t know why we had these raffles at all, but sometimes some do gooders wanted to do good so they had these raffles, in a way to get us to part with our money that offered some incentive, because none of us believed in altruism. We worked at a non-profit but secretly we all liked money, especially our own. I wasn’t even there to hear them call out my number, that’s how much I didn’t care. A few people who heard there might be cake had gathered in the canteen to witness the draw, but I was on a conference call.
I got an email later saying I’d won the blender. Tricia from HR didn’t even say congrats because she’d seen the blender and knew what the other prize was. Some man in Accounts won the day off but he was never there anyway because he was so senior, he mostly conducted his business on the golf course.
I had to go and collect my prize at the end of the day. I thought about just not going but didn’t want Tricia in HR to email me again.
I’m here for the blender, I said, walking into HR. Feeling like I was at a school maybe, the blender was my kid.
The woman at the desk bent down and presented me with a giant box.
Great, I said, struggling to hold it.
My son has one, she said.
Is it any good?
I don’t know, I don’t see him.
But you know he has this blender?
Yeah, we only talk about things we bought or things we watch, she said.
I took the blender outside and slung it in the back of my car and then worried I should have strapped it in the whole ride home, like it was my kid again.
I learned that it may or may not be haunted after I got home and googled it. I was googling it to see how much I could get for it on eBay and up popped all these fan theories about it being haunted.
I only vaguely knew about this internet fitness sensation/wellness “expert” man before the blender came into my life, my car. It was hard to avoid him, he marketed himself so aggressively. I’d seen his face, or more his unnaturally hard body jumping, around his living room on some “news” segment on some morning show, trying to get me to get up and move my body, even I could do it apparently. But I could not. I turned the channel over to some big heavily tattooed guy on Vice deep-frying something. He wanted to save our fat souls in a different way. I just wanted a day off.
The wife had recalled the blenders, after the whole, her dead husband might be in one thing, but she was claiming there was a technical fault, but no one was buying it. She wanted her husband back. In whatever form that might entail. But people didn’t want to give him back, obviously.
I watched videos of her online, crying, saying if you had a heart, you’d return the blender, if you’d ever lost someone, you’d return the blender, then later, an angry video where she looked like she’d probably been drinking, swearing, pleading with people to not be such fuckers. But people were fuckers.
I felt sorry for her. I would give her back the blender. But I also wanted to give her a hug. Because I was not a fucker. I didn’t believe in ghosts or blenders, but I believed in doing the right thing.
I found out where she lived easily, because her and her husband had been in every magazine, showing off their apartment, showing off their gut microbiome. I was sure she’d have security, in light of being mildly famous, but also all the crazies, but no, I just walked right up and rang the bell.
I have your husband, I said, holding the boxed blender out to her.
She opened the door in her robe, played the grieving widow perfectly.
I knew it! she said, snatching the box.
I was joking, I said.
That’s not funny, she said.
I mean, it is, a bit, I said.
Come in, she said, opening the door. I went in and stood in her hallway.
If you don’t think my husband is really in the blender, why did you bring it back? She said, putting the blender/husband down on the floor.
Because you think it might, I said.
I mean, it might, she said, looking at the blender.
But probably not, I said. Show me where he fell.
She led me through to the spacious living room/kitchen and showed me where he fell, showed me where he hit his head, started crying. I put my hand on her shoulder.
How do you know he’s not in your dog? I said, noticing her dog sat on the couch licking itself.
I think I’d know, she said, going to the couch, stroking the dog.
How many blenders have you had back?
I think he’s probably not in one, I said.
But there’s a tiny chance he might be, she sniffed.
He died doing what he loved, I said, wanting to add, being a prick on YouTube, but wasn’t that cruel. She was clearly a real person, and a grieving one, even if her choice of expression was questionable.
I think you need to get on with your life, I said.
But he was my life, she said.
There’s your problem, I said.
Thank you, she said. She’d stopped crying.
No problem, I said, I didn’t want it anyway.
A week later someone claimed they definitely had the haunted blender and posted a video of weird shit happening every time they went to make a smoothie. I messaged the wife to ask if we should go and get her husband.
But you don’t believe it’s him, she said.
But you do, I said.
I don’t, really, she said, but there’s media interest now, I could get a show from this.
I said I understood.
Haunted appliances, she said.
You don’t have to explain, I said.
We went to this man’s apartment and watched him make a smoothie and nothing happened that wasn’t supposed to happen when you make a smoothie. The fruit could have been screaming, but it was drowned out by the blenders whizzing.
You saw the video, though, right? The man said.
We watched the video again. When he made the smoothie in the video the lights flickered a bit and there was a small spark from the blender.
I don’t think that’s a ghost, I think it’s something electrical, I said.
I’m an electrician, the man said, I think I know when I see a ghost.
I looked at the wife stroking the blender.
How much? She said.
Five hundred, the man said.
Fine, she said, taking out her phone.
You know that’s not him, right? I said, when we were outside.
I know, she said. People like to believe in things.
And I understood. I needed to believe there was an electrician that was so bad at his job his own house had bad wiring, or maybe he just didn’t want to bring his work home, wanted someone else to come and fix his problems, would rather think it was a ghost, so someone Instagram-famous would come and give him five hundred bucks. I needed to believe he wasn’t just a scammer.
I wanted a day off still, from work, but also from being human and having to deal with other humans that also had no idea what was going on most of the time. I wanted to love my chin acne but suspected I had to be Instagram-famous for that to happen.
I watched her show about haunted appliances. It wasn’t awful. There was already a spinoff, about a woman who thought her fiancé was in a lamp and she was going to marry the lamp because she’d bought the dress already.
I got a message from the wife a week later.
He’s not in the blender, she said.
How do you know?
Come over, she said. So, I went over. Still no security, even though she was on actual TV now, not just YouTube.
I’ve been sleeping with him, she said, showing me her bedroom, where she had all the blenders she’d managed to recall, out of their boxes, placed around the room.
How do you sleep like this? I said.
Fine, she said, but he’s not in a blender and I need someone to help me get rid of them.
How do you know he’s not in a blender?
He’s just not.
How do you know?
I just know.
I can’t help you unless you tell me.
Because he’s in the dog.
He’s in the dog?
Ok so no, he’s not really in the dog, but I want him to not be in the blender, she said.
He’s not in the blender, I said. I don’t need to tell you some bullshit about how he’s in your heart, do I?
No, she said, but thanks. I don’t want him in my heart, I want him here, so he can get rid of all these fucking blenders.
I know, I said, putting my hand on her shoulder. Ok, so how do you want to get rid of them?
Your car? She said.
Yes, but what do you want me to do with them?
You can sell them, I don’t care, she said.
So, I took them home and put them on eBay.
People bought them. I gave the money to a dog bereavement charity. I attempted one burpee in my living room as a tribute and felt vaguely alive but mostly stupid.
I’d wanted a day off to watch hours of a tv show I didn’t even like that much but felt I should watch, hoped it would soothe my soul, to allow myself that giving in to something. Some people believed in that down time, self-care, TV, others believed in ghosts, golf. What did it matter if one day we’d be everything or nothing and no one would ever know for sure if we ever existed it all?
I made a smoothie. I’d kept one blender, because I felt an attachment now, to this metal, this glass, this plastic, understood it in ways I didn’t understand the humans I’d encountered. It had something, not a ghost, nothing that fun, more it held in it everything we as humans didn’t know what to do, we transferred out desires onto these objects, then passed them about, put them on eBay, in landfills, a reminder there was nothing we could buy that could fix us, but we had to keep believing in something.
Lucie Britsch’s stories have appeared in places like Volume 1 Brooklyn, Split Lip, Catapult, and The Sun. Her debut novel, Sad Janet, is out now from Riverhead Books. Follow her on Twitter at @luciebritsch.