In a folder labeled “Junk” on my husband’s computer was another folder labeled “T.” That’s short for Thuy, by the way. Thuy was an undergraduate while my husband, almost 30, was a professor. The “T” folder had a collage of photos and a single photo time and date stamped 2002.
The collage was a homemade thing. Each photo in it was positioned at artistically odd angles. The photos themselves are pre-iPhone, so you can imagine how grainy and muted the colors are. And they’re taken with flash. And they’re selfies, shot on a bed and a few shot at her reflection in a tall door mirror.
The collage did not have her face in any of them. But they did feature:
her right breast from the side
both breasts with tan lines, nubile and pubescent
breasts again from an angle that highlighted her large nipples
her pussy yawning from her widely spread inner thighs. Her pubic hair was patchy, which made me think of the word snatch
Ah, but he did think of her as a person, not just teen snatch. He also had a grainy photo of her taken in a landscape of scrubby bushes and a stubby tree. The horizon was large. I thought it was a dune on some untouched beach. She was looking over her shoulder as long black hair hung straight down her back. She smiled at the camera, knowing and at the same time shy.
Another photo of the same woman, this time a good resolution one. She was sitting outside a hotel. The foliage looked vaguely tropical, but it could have been just summertime. She was dressed up in a summery dress smiling somewhat like the cat that ate the canary. The photo struck me as odd, and now, three weeks later, I know why. It looks like the kind of picture you take of the family going out for a special dinner right before they go into the restaurant. The girls’ patent shiny shoes are pinching their toes. The boys look awkward. Grandmother is leaning on her walker, etc.
But the photo is actually of an excited teenager on a trip with an older married man. The man is my bachelor husband on vacation. And at home, I am taking care of our 2-year-old, my first baby, a girl. I’m lonely, and I will never go on a trip just me and him. Every time I ask, over the next 17 years, he will say no. He’ll have excuses, and I’ll try to understand.
Until I tell him I know. Until I tell him to pack and get out of our house. Then he promises a trip for us to Barcelona. Somewhere he hasn’t been but I already have.