Four electric-blue straps crisscross over my belly button, parting my cleavage, looping around my neck. Thin lace dusts over my nipples. I bought the strappy lingerie for seven dollars online. Spinning in front of the bathroom mirror, I search for the problematic areas, but the straps magically lift and hold my figure in a flattering form. The cheap getup wouldn’t last any woman more than one night, even with the gentlest lover.
Wrapping a gray towel around myself, the bright neon straps web across my bare shoulders. Unlatching the door, I peer around. His roommate across the hall yells at a video game. Tiptoeing, I twist the brass knob and enter. David is distracted by a video on his phone.
I drop the towel.
Eyes caught on mine, he swipes up on the camera app on his phone, positioning it like a weapon in his grip. I’m quick to swat it away. The phone flops over the side of the bed, rolling on the carpet.
Leaning over, he wipes the screen with his sleeve, examining for cracks. He asks me why he can’t take my photo, but all I can think of are horror stories of women losing jobs, remembering girls in high school sending nudes to fake teenage boys on Kik, and the idea of the creepy government officials that may or may not have access to our entire camera rolls. This surprise was meant for David, for this moment. Not to throw in a spank bank with other comparable photos.
He doesn’t understand. I’m supposed to trust him. We turn on a movie instead.
In bed, I toss and turn within his grasp. Elbows nudging his ribs, face nuzzling into the same fold of his neck, my toes wiggling outside of the covers. I want him to remember I’m still here. I want him to take my picture. Want him to not give up so fast on showing me he adores me. His breathing heavies and lessens. A borderline snore sends a pang of disappointment through my backbone. I readjust again. Please don’t fall asleep yet.
I wish David had photographed me from all angles around the apartment. I imagine myself, fingers grazing the full body mirror hanging off the back of the bedroom door. Sitting in the oversized leather chair, his glasses perched on the tip of my nose, leaning in, ready to share a secret. We both knew I already was, if electric blue wasn’t already out of my comfort zone, the straps wrapped around me like duct tape on an old bumper weren’t my typical look. He knew this was hard for me.
The next morning, lines trace my skin where the straps were a little too tight. Next time it wouldn’t be a surprise. I throw away the electric-blue lingerie, wad it in a plastic bag so it won’t be as noticeable in the trash.
Misty Yarnall’s fiction can be found in a handful of literary journals. She has won the Sixth Act Playwriting Competition, the Langlois Award for Short Fiction, and the POV Screenwriting Contest. She is currently working on a novella.