“Who’ll give you time to cry?
Who’ll give you time to find yourself, somewhere on the outside?”
Esme sat in the middle of her bed and rolled herself a joint. She was tired of the grim greyness around the edge of her vision, tired of finding Rey’s hairs on her sweaters, tired of all the work it took to clear someone out of your life after they left you. It had been two weeks and she still hadn’t cried. She was sure that if she could just break into the cold spot in her chest and let the warm tears flow, the ice might melt and she might feel more herself. But the tears were nowhere to be found.
She sat in the dimness of the overcast afternoon in nothing but tall socks and a pair of Rey’s panties, the smell of her cunt still on her fingers as she smoothed the delicate paper around the damp, crumbled bud, licking it shut like a love letter, sliding the whole join into and out of her mouth swiftly, baptizing it. Her thumb caught the wheel of the lighter and the crackling spark bloomed into a flame. She took a long pull, letting the smoke fill her lungs slowly and she lay back in the bed, occasionally knocking the ash onto the corner of the bedside table, too lazy and comfortable to find an ashtray. When would this get easier, she wondered, when would she be so lucky that she’d forget.? The smoke curled around Esme’s shoulders and face and she caught sight of herself in the mirror opposite the bed. The blue-grey cloud billowed around her like ectoplasm and she wondered, just for a moment, if maybe she should see a psychic. Therapy wasn’t helping, sleep meds weren’t helping, the weed helped a bit but only in the moment. Maybe a psychic could give her some insight, help her find closure. Rey would have hated that idea. Rey had always been the rational foil to Esme’s emotional being, which made it all the more strange that Esme hadn’t cried over Rey’s perfunctory and unfeeling departure. Esme had given up trying to understand. Rey had been there and then she wasn’t. They’d been partners, lovers, friends, and then they weren’t. Rey had come home, packed and left, with very little to say, and no answers for Esme. Her unwillingness to explain had hurt more than the break up. Perhaps that’s why she wasn’t crying over Rey, thought Esme. Perhaps she couldn’t cry because she didn’t know what had happened.
The butt end of the joint had gone out, pinched between forefinger and thumb. How long had she been thinking about Rey? She wrapped herself tight in the duvet and closed her eyes. Her thoughts felt long and soft, like yarn stretching and winding through her head. She lay in the darkening room and thought of Rey as her fingertips idly stroked the soft cotton at the apex of her thighs. The heat there was comforting and she settled in for more of the feel-good rush of orgasm, stroking and petting, memories of Rey’s soft, dark mouth on her thighs. When she was sated, she lay still in the dark until she slept.
Esme awoke early, having slept through the late afternoon, the evening and most of the night. She caught her reflection in the window on her way to the bathroom and felt a flicker of her normal self. Looking back at her was a pretty woman, she stretched and observed herself, the early morning shadows making her figure more sensual and mysterious. She frowned at the soft grey panties and pulled on a tshirt, also Rey’s, and she was suddenly filled with a sense of vengeance and rage. In an altogether un-Esme-like moment, she grabbed her phone, set the camera’s timer and posed coyly by the window, bathed in natural light. Yes, this would do perfectly, she thought. More pictures, more poses, less and less clothing. As she posed and inspected her shots her mind raced: it would be so easy to just put up an ad on a dating site, share some lewds and nudes and hook up with someone hot. And then she’d send pictures to Rey, really show her what she was missing. That was the revenge she needed, the power move she had to make to show Rey that she was unaffected, so much so that she could wear Rey’s underwear in the very images she planned on posting. Thirst-trapping in your ex’s panties? Yes. Fuck her, fuck Rey for her bullshit and her coldness and her plain, utilitarian panties that Esme had always hated. She had hated how austere Rey was, but her reserved nature and understated style had been part of the attraction, even though it meant that Esme had always been too loud, too colourful, too extra. No more. Rey couldn’t dictate things anymore. She’d walked away. Fuck her and her judgement. Esme slipped off the damp panties and kicked off the tall socks, she yanked off the tshirt. She looked at herself, naked, in the mirror and felt something in her chest start to flutter. The flutter gave way to a rattle and the rattle became a wretched sob and all the anger and grief poured out of her crumpled form as she slumped to the floor and finally, finally cried.
When the tears stopped, Esme felt lighter. She ran a bath and while the tub filled, she filled the wastepaper basket with everything that was left of Rey and took it out to the trash bin. Esme sunk into the tub and scrolled through her phone, the urge to post an ad and have a vengeful fling had passed and she deleted the pictures one by one, until she got to the first one. She paused, she liked it, it was a great picture: coy, teasing, very flattering, and even though the rage had passed, she was smugly satisfied to have a picture that was so sexy that included bits of Rey. It was as if to say “See? I can be gorgeous without you? These old things? I just threw them on, they mean nothing, can’t you see how casual I am, how I’m moving on? How I don’t need you anymore?” Esme kept the picture. She didn’t post it online, she didn’t use it to attract a one-night-stand, she kept it for herself, so she could remember the pain, the anger and then the relief. It was the only part of Rey she kept.