The moon has risen from its dutiful slumber, and the bright glare of my phone blinds me. The clouds partially obscure the stars, which are softly lit by the remnants of sunlight. A clothing company is holding a contest for the best selfie. The winner will receive £1,000 in the form of a voucher to spend on their website.
I know that girls far prettier than I will undoubtedly win, but I desperately want that money. I saw a chiffon top with strawberries that I need to have. I take out my professional photography set up, placing everything on the ground. I have a few colour frames that I can use to create a honeyed halo around my head. For the first time in my life, I will look like an angel.
I lay out the leather catsuit I wore last Halloween on my bed, pressing in the creases for ultimate perfection. The aroma of the leather takes me back to that night. I knew what I was going to do, and I was going to do it well. I’d packed enough clothes to last me a couple of weeks, and I had a bottle of perfume. I figured that I could seduce my way into a strange man’s bed. He’d find a way to love me someday, whether it be a fling or a forever thing.
The first four photographs are terrible, and I delete them instantly. I resort to blacking out my windows with my bedsheets. I’ve never been able to get the bloodstains out of them, but I can’t afford new ones. I tried bleach, baking soda, and spin washes. The memories bring tears to my eyes, moistening my eyeballs for the first time in weeks.
Spying the opportunity, I set the camera to shutter. When I check, I find a dozen photos of me with gloopy eyes, enveloped in that amber halo. I’m worried that my pain may startle people, for they are not used to being confronted by humanity.
I take off the catsuit and pack it away for another day. Getting back into my pyjamas, I upload my favourite image to photoshop. After an hour, I am happy with the edits I have made. My photo is no longer raw; it is greased with a beauty that has always been missing from my life. With one finger hovering over the send button, I hear the drippings of paranoia. I see him lying in his bed. Another girl occupies the side I slept on. He’s lost in thoughts of our first kiss in the back of his truck. My underwear, soiled by the gallons of gasoline he kept there. We lit many fires, but they didn’t burn.