I come to your place because there is nothing else to do on a Tuesday that might as well be a Thursday, leftovers furring in the fridge, the haunchy cat demanding praise for simply rolling over next to a toy mouse.

I don’t look in the mirror often, annoyed by the ghost that stares back, pinched mouth like a gasping fish, desperate hummingbird. But since you swiped right, and I am the kind of bored that feels like lonely, I pull a brush through my hair, scrub the scabs from my lips, even my skin peeling away from me.

The bottle of wine I bring is only half gone, which is good enough, I suppose, for someone who lists their hobbies as skateboarding, beer, and adventurous cuisine. I take a swig first, feel the pinot sour at the back of my throat, the skin and sediment staining my teeth. Later, when you open the door, look like hell without your filter and beach background, I say, “Hi. You wanted me?” my purpled teeth like a shadowy cage.

The cork disintegrated when I shoved it back in the bottle, strangling the neck. I make a bad joke about how the floating bits look like the dead, and can’t tell if you laugh out of obligation or nerves or because you’re choking. You’re the kind of vegan I can’t stand, sprouts on everything like pubic hair, the smell of fermented food pickling the apartment, so I share the story about a friend of mine who worked at a winery pulling out dead animals from the tanks.

“Can you imagine drowning in wine?” I ask because you are talking about how much better vinyl sounds, which is true but as boring as your collection of takeout menus. When I say it out loud, though, it doesn’t sound that bad or far away.

Drowning turns you on, I guess, and soon you’re talking asphyxiation. I can get into choking, but typhoons, beached bodies and whales, sharks throwing themselves to shore because we’ve poisoned the seas isn’t that sexy.

We get to the point, at least, of why I’m here, why we both scrolled through blank faces looking for someone to love for a while. I like to make people disappear while I’m waiting for water to boil, picking broccoli from my teeth, fighting with my cat for the SAD lamp. I like to swipe through possibility on the toilet—find someone tolerable enough that I’ll get that feel-good regret throb for a day or two—and then get distracted by a notification that another Kardashian has another new nose.

The phone pings now when you’re perched at the edge of your thrift store couch, plaid worn away from a life of wasted time. You read with a glint in your eye, your tongue darting out to slick across your lips, and report that it’s a missile test across the sea, the last glacier slipping silently into the sea, the rhinos dead because they won’t sleep together.

When you ask if I’ll watch porn with you, I agree because I’ve never liked making eye contact and this way I won’t recognize you later if we pass on the street, kick old newspapers and Dunkin’ Donuts cups in the dirty snow slush, watch our breath escape into fog as it too tries to leave us.

You’re kicking off your shoes and lifting a band t-shirt from some group that was unpopular enough last decade to be trendy now over your head. When it gets stuck, you wave your arms like one of those inflatable tube men in front of used car lots, and I wonder how many people have sat on this used couch before me, watching you struggle, your navel moving in and out with your effort, tethered to your desperate desire.

I won’t hold your hand because that’s too close, your nails too long, but I let you claw my thigh like the fried chicken you won’t eat. When the television comes to life, the dark room goes blue, cold, electric like there’s chemistry.

You show me volcanoes, hurricanes, the way an earthquake gashes the land, buildings shimmying before they dissolve. Your voice goes husky when you show me a baby trapped in a well, all that wet and dark, women trapped behind a wall, men trapped in a cave, everyone marching through flame and gas and gunfire. Cancer rates are up, and mental illness, so you scoot closer until your leg runs along mine, not heat really, but a pressure that counteracts the numb I feel when you show people doused in acid, tornadoes or fracking, a starving polar bear racing the ice to see who can be the first to disappear.

When I let you in, it’s because the world wounds, because the room spins like the garbage whirlpool in the sea, the smell of wine and brine sharp in my nose, my open throat. You whisper in my ear that human-made materials—concrete, metal, plastic—outweigh all human life, and I feel like death, like air, like a ghost floating above the moment.

The scene below mirrors what’s on tv: two bodies on a couch that will outlast them both, mouths open and wailing, scream or sob, no one can even tell anymore.

© Sarah Fawn Montgomery
[This piece was selected by Damyanti Biswas. Read Sarah Fawn’s interview]