by Natalie Bronstein
I have this friend who’s into taking pictures with her boyfriend. I haven’t been all that interested, but they do it often and there’s a lot of drama over these naked photos. So I guess it finally got into me because a few days ago, I took a picture of myself by the window without my clothes on. And I looked at it on my computer and it was a nice photo — something about the trees in the background, something about my skin, which still seems to have a little life in it. So for fun, I put a small version of “Naked” in the middle of my computer screen — as art, not as narcissistic mirror.
Last night my friend Yoni came over. It occurred to me, as he was knocking at the door, to get rid of “Naked” (which was in plain view in my bedroom, since my computer is virtually always on), but it was taking too much time, so I just left it.
We were on my bed, and it was warm and humid and late.
"Do you mind keeping absolutely secret about it?" he asked me, as I lit a candle.
"About fucking me the other night?" I said. There seemed to be other things he could have been talking about.
"Yeah, about fucking me the other night. Do you mind? It's not to say I didn’t enjoy and don’t currently crave your sweet body and person. I just don’t want publicity at the moment.”
"Of course not, Mr. Melodrama," I replied, knowing it must have had to do with Rebecca.
"Good," he said. "But I want to explain."
"Okay," I said. And I watched him walk over to the computer.
"It's sort of astoundingly beautiful. No — not sort of. It is. Will you send it to me?" Yoni asked about “Naked,” the photo of me with the trees in the background. His hand was lightly on the screen. It felt good. He was caressing parts he could never touch — parts that were unreal and abstract for him, and others that were true yet unknown.
"No, Yoni. I can't. I can’t send you “Naked”— you know that.”
And we laughed slightly through the pain of our history. He and I both know he is not to be trusted.
Defeated, Yoni came back to the bed.
He said he wanted to be honest. He said he wanted to explain. He said a lot of things, actually. Like: “I hurt people. And a lot of the time, I don’t care if I do.” His eyes, though, were wet and huge and seemed to betray feeling — or maybe just madness.
He said he wanted to do it again.
"It was too short last time," he said. He had come to me last week at my peak — half a bottle of wine and ovulating. I had said, "Okay, we can be in bed naked, but you can't go inside me." I strangely believed this. Eggs are greedy things. They don't care whether the precious fluid is from a madman.
He also said that in three weeks, after Rebecca is done fucking “Sven the Zen yoga guru,” they will begin a 5-month trial period to make it work — they’ll go into intensive therapy together. They will give it one last huge effort. They have done this countless times. But he doesn't seem to remember. This feels like the first time for him.
All this he wants me to know.
What he wants Rebecca to know — the picture he wants to create for her — is that he is patient and committed, pure of heart and dick. But he is, of course, none of those things.
"She's got 19 years of hooks in me; I want to get unhooked,” he said, half-believing himself. “Maybe the five-month trial period will help me do that,” he said, hoping that might make me take my panties off.
He’s got three weeks. Three weeks before the trial-run with her.
He said, "Sex with you is better than with anyone else ever in my whole life." He said he wanted to qualify it because it frightened him to say. But he said he couldn’t: “It’s the truth. Unequivocally.”
So, Yoni wanted to make love to me again. And I couldn’t.
“You seldom tell the truth, Yoni, and here you are, telling the truth…and now I feel like I’m punishing you for it, when it’s the last thing I want to do," I said.
"I know," he said. "I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m sorry.”
So Yoni left last night, adjusting his pants.
When I woke up this morning, I turned on my computer to check my e-mail. But something different started happening: The Outbox said Send and that pink bar was going fast...I saw firstname.lastname@example.org and naked.jpg and my blood curdled and I felt curdled. (While I was peeing last night, he must have copied the photo and sent it to himself!) A nausea to my core, I desperately tried halting it. Deleting it. Sending it to my Inbox. And then, the pink color which was filling the bar that was sending the image of my breast and my curve and thigh, stopped.
I had beaten him at his cheating. His betrayal.
I went to Google and typed in: naked fat ugly pics. I sent him one, calling it naked.jpg.—in the hopes of curdling him back. g
Natalie Bronstein received a BFA in film from NYU in 1992 and a PhD in history from The New School in 1998. She has published several academic journal articles, as well as short fiction. Natalie is currently teaching history at Marist College and working on a novel set in Vienna in the late 1890s.
Copyright by Natalie Bronstein, 2003. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2003 Entelechy: Mind & Culture. All rights reserved.