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She had bags under her eyes and recently dyed her hair blonde. We still love each other but are too proud and confused to reconcile. The sick part of me secretly wishes she’ll fuck some dude I hate so I’m forced to forget her. Who knows, maybe she already has and I don’t know it yet.

Still, it’s probably her skin I miss the most. She takes obsessive care of it. Vaseline, lotions, gels, sunscreens, whatever the fuck women treat themselves with daily, she does it. After the shower, before bed, during LA’s spells of dry heat, she’s rubbing something on her arms and chest. It has paid off. Her skin is so pale, so soft, so smooth it almost doesn’t exist. Feeling her naked body against mine, she is weightless. Touching her skin is like a blinding, blissful light to my fingers, a cold vanilla milkshake. I get a formidable hard­-on just thinking about it. I want to live next to that naked body forever, or die next to it: whichever is better. I love every millimeter, the cellulite on her ass, her skinny fingers which are longer than mine, the small white hairs on her thighs she never shaves, and her thin brown bush. Still, we barely touched during breakfast, if it all.

Her skin remains a memory.

That night I walked into the strip club, high. The neon read, “LIVE NUDE GIRLS,” of the sort you still find on Hollywood boulevard. Perverts and losers flock to these signs. I was thick with whiskey, my eyes were large and black from cocaine. I had spent the afternoon watching the Super Bowl alone. I hate football.

It’s survival out there for dancers. They learn a lot from how somebody looks and carries themselves right off the bat, so most of the better looking ones don’t bother with me these days. I’m not complaining. A stripper approached. If there’s one thing dancers can spot without fail, it is a desperate man with cash to spend.

“Hi baby,” she said. She had tattoos. “Can I do blow off your tits?” I asked, “what will that cost?” Back in the VIP room, I poured out coke on her breasts. “Usually I would make someone pay extra for this, but you’re cute.” I don’t believe her. Her body was slim and devastatingly sexy. What’s her name again, Ivy? Her chest was moist with sweat. She starts writhing against me. I close my eyes. For a short, refined moment, I cease to remember that this body belongs to a stripper, and I’m high enough to trick myself into believing that it’s the body of the woman who loved me. The moment passes with her next heavy breath. I smell her cheap perfume. The lights come rushing back to me at once. My heart aches from the drugs.

I return home and hop in bed. The cocaine wears off. My brain feels like an abandoned junkyard. I check my phone to see if she texted. She never texts. I consider seeing if she’s awake, but it’s 4am. I scan Backpage and consider trying to find a whore. My eyes can’t focus on the screen and it’s too bright anyway. I’m also broke. I start jerking off to naked pictures of the girl I used to love but I can’t get hard. They are the only connection I have to her anymore.

Her name is Sadie.

More than anything I love her eyes. They are big and brown, like a deer’s. They’re the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever looked into. They betray an innocence that she buried deep inside herself so as to be almost imperceptible. They light up when she smiles at me even to this day. It is how I know she loves me.

We’ve only been apart for less than a year, but it feels longer. Half the time I wondered why I ever liked her to begin with, the other half I wondered why I ever broke up with her. I saw her again. Once. After running into each other drunk at a bar, we made plans to meet the next week. She insisted on coffee instead of drinks, but we chose a restaurant and ordered breakfast instead. It was the diner we had our first date in all those years ago. The booth was taken.