how I knew he loved me: Months after he broke my heart, I borrowed his laptop. I was using it to look up directions, perching it hot on my knees as I peed in his bathroom. Opening his browser, I gasped: “beautiful redhead porn” jumped onto the page before I could blink. An autofilled desire.
I held my hands suspended above the keyboard, as if one false move would destroy the evidence. The text seemed delicate, propped up questioningly: “beautiful redhead porn”? I knew it was about me. I blushed at the word “beautiful”.
I read it again and my eyes swelled with hesitant tears. I had been affirmed in the most gruesome of ways: He still wanted me. He still wanted me, but he wanted a version of me that was diluted and dispersed, trickling through host websites and stilted moans. My body – the body he had once touched and held and squeezed and slapped – He was looking for my body elsewhere. But I’m right here, I thought as I sat half-naked, piss still dripping from the curls of my red pubic hair.
Reading it over and over, I bristled with a bitter satisfaction. I relished that I had stuck on him, that he was still haunted by my body– even in its most simplified form. The satisfaction was laced with disdain; I imagined him jerking off to these second-hand Audrey’s, these scripted sex acts, and I felt like I had won. I forgot how he had made me feel repulsed by my own desperation, frigid in longing. I had won because I was still a fantasy for him. I was the object he missed the most.
I clicked on the search, and a thousand girls appeared: mirrors of me, mirrors of a memory: the sex we used to have. This was a violent displacement. He had found me, me, in these flat flickering girls. They bent their backs so sharply I winced. Ass up in the air, elbows raw against the bed, they took it like I could never take it. They panted at the effort of being an image. Their hair was an impossible red. No one was freckled like me. No one bent like we used to. I cried into my lap, tears shimmering across the keyboard.
2014, digital print