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The Last Smile She Gave Me

I once knew a girl who was hustling me for money with naked pictures of herself in a modern text/sext for pay arrangement. I was of course complicit in everything due to the most pedestrian reasons imaginable: extreme loneliness and I’m a minor pervert. I’m not uptight about the minor perversion but the loneliness kills me sometimes. At any rate, I can write eroticism a bit better than your average gooner- one of my gifts, and I was quite a bit older than this twenty-two-year-old girl so, I had a lot of readymade love bombs. I suppose I am like a Marcel Duchamp or at least a toilet in an art gallery of sweet talk. Some like it.

I know she enjoyed it because of all the free time she spent texting/sexting with me. Hours sometimes, “morning love, how’s your day?” type shit. For sex workers, time is money and we wasted time together for free and that is not common. She even asked to call me once and we spoke briefly, which is extremely rare for free. I think with that phone call I was very close to an actual sexual encounter. We lived; it turned out, only a three-hour drive from each other. Again, although none of this is normal, she had a way of making me smile so deeply and purely that even I was beginning to believe in it. 
 In one of our rambling on-line conversations, she asked me what I thought about vaping – seemed like she was feeling me out in some normal reality space; again, not common in these types of things. I told her I had smoked actual cigarettes for longer than she had been alive and the whole thing came crashing down for me right there. I also told her that I thought it was dumb and it made me reflect if I ever missed smoking; to which I thought to myself, “I miss it about as much as I miss being twenty-two. Which is to say, hardly ever. In fact, I wish I had been born fully grown – around forty I guess, with all my trials adjudicated, and sincere convictions in the virtues of my choosing. Like never smoking and not being a lonely pervert.”

I won’t lie though; she had made me smile often and deeply. I didn’t want to lose that feeling, but nothing like that can live in the places where it matters. Good feelings born in the lonely perversions of ordinary damaged people are like clipped roses, that while noble in a vase for a moment or two, always slowly dry up. A smile like that never lasts. Rather than risk the death of a noble rose, I decided I would tell her I needed to take a break and that she was beautiful – be nice and leave it open ended. She said she would miss me and to come back whenever I felt like it – nice and leaving it as open ended as I had. Although young, she obviously had some readymade endings and was quite a Duchamp herself. A toilet in an art gallery of goodbyes. The last smile she gave me.

Eric Lee Short is just like any other writer, only more so.

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