Guernica Magazine

The Ways We Take Ourselves Apart

While I am texting the man who is not my husband, bacteria is growing inside the bodies of my daughter and her best friend.
Image source FUMIGRAPHIK_Photographist, via Flickr.

I tilt my legs back and forth; draw my knees together, cross one leg over the other, my shorts pushed up on my thighs. I’m trying to catch the weak overhead light. I position my phone above my lap, higher. I take the picture. I take another and another until the disembodied legs in the image, so much apart from the rest of me, look the way I want them to look—the way I think pictures of body parts sent by lovers, otherwise unattached and free to send such pictures, should look. I send the picture to the man who I know is waiting for it, though he hasn’t asked for the image. Not specifically. He has only suggested it. I was shopping at the grocery store when he texted What are you wearing? and I began to compose the image in my mind. He hasn’t actually asked me to do or say anything. He’s only been available, interested, a repository I toe the edge of.

While I am texting, sneaking off to the parking lot of the grocery store to talk to the man, bacteria is growing inside the body of my nine-year-old daughter, and inside the body of her best friend, Jane. But we don’t know this yet. My daughter and Jane are at a volleyball game where Jane spikes a serve and my daughter cheers from the bleachers. Afterwards, they share a root beer, a hot dog.

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