His phone is on the table and he’s taking a piss, or something more, because he’s still in there. It’s been at least ten minutes. Usually he takes his phone with him, to entertain himself. He shops for new apps or plays Cut the Rope on the toilet. I assume this is to avoid me.
I don’t blame him.
Nothing is fun any more. We’ve got all these friends getting married and we show up to all those churches, drunk and arguing in the parking lots. The absolute dread of those stained glass windows, the way they make me feel so bad for fighting, is sometimes why we fight in the first place.
I don’t hear a sound from down the hall, a trace of toilet flushing or the rush of sink water smashing against his hands.
So I lunge for his phone.
It’s like I’m possessed. Like I need some kind of answer or excuse, I need a reason for these tiny little rages.
I know the password because we live together and he’s told me. His birthday. Easy.
I swipe it unlocked and I listen intently to see if he’s coming.
When it feels safe, I begin to wander, leaping from email to text, from app to app and then through his search history.
He’s caught me before. Some nights it annoys him, like he’s ready for a fight. It’s when he’s exhausted that he hates me digging through his phone.
Today I find porn.
Real dirty shit too. The kind that makes you wonder if you’ve been doing sex wrong since you were sixteen. And all these damn nipples are perfect and not like my crooked tits. I feel suddenly embarrassed that he must hate my body and now I want to storm down the hall, bang on the fucking door and ask why he’s looking at porn. On his phone, nonetheless.
I keep dabbing my finger on the screen, searching in and out of his daily life and reading his emails.
There’s one from his brother. The one he doesn’t talk to anymore. They’ve been talking for a week now. I add that to the list of questions I will berate him with when he exits the bathroom. Now I can’t tell which is more important, the skank porn or his little brother.
I look in his recent photos, hoping not to find any life-ruining cock shots. But now there’s all these photos of us. I see the ones he takes of me when I’m not even looking. Even if it’s bad a lot of the time, we’ve got this damn photo stream that makes us look easy. For a little bit of a second it’s easy to imagine that we fell in love.
Some nights I ask him, usually when I’ve had too many whiskeys.
“Tell me why you love me,” I say.
“Are you fishing?” he says.
It’s his favorite thing to ask, always. He likes it when I don’t answer.
I hear a quiet bang down the hall and I know it’s the medicine cabinet closing and now there’s a quick unlatch of the bathroom door.
There’s a new app, or somehow I’ve never seen this one.
It’s some kind of organizer that mindlessly manages to-do lists. He loves this kind of shit.
My heart is racing.
There’s a grocery list and errands.
But it’s mostly all me.
There’s my bills he’s going to pay this month and a list of my birthday present ideas. I am now exploding with joy and confusion and there are still all those pictures of pussy floating around my head. I lock the screen and arrange the phone back on the table, as if it had been lonely while he was away.
He appears with a sweaty face and he’s wiping his forehead with the good hand towel.
“Don’t use the white ones!” I say.
He lies down at my feet and turns on the television. He reaches for his phone and stares effortlessly deep into the screen.
“Are you feeling okay?” I ask.
“I think I ate something bad.”
“Why do you love me?” I ask.
He sits up and pretends to cast a fishing rod into the air. He moves his hands like he’s reeling me to him, and we’re watching the History channel again.
Crissy Van Meter lives and writes in Los Angeles, California. She received an MFA from The New School and is a journalist. Her fiction has appeared in Monkeybicycle, TROn and NANO Fiction. Her non-fiction has appeared online for ESPN, VICE and The Hairpin. She is the co-founder of FiveQuarterly.org, an online literary project out of Brooklyn, New York.