my life feels numb and i hope this trip will help.
after walking several miles through the forest, the sounds of the highway diminish as I enter a secluded area. the blue location dot on my phone moves towards the coordinates i set early this morning when i woke up to depart. i’ve wanted to visit this place for a long time. calling in sick, leaving my car parked beside a door in the highway wall, breaking into the undeveloped land adjacent to the highway; feeling horny and sad can get you to do a lot of things.
i continue walking closer to my destination. the path becomes overgrown with a thick brush of honeysuckle. their small red berries are in bloom. garlic mustard’s heart-shaped leaves cover the forest floor. i notice that the only thing i can hear when i stop moving is the ringing in my ears.
the path makes several tight turns before opening up into a small, verdant clearing where i see what i’m looking for. at my feet is a shallow circular pool, its perimeter marked by round rocks. a fox made of stone appears to step out from the forest, its head turned slightly towards the pool as if looking down into it. its tail is partially broken.
there’s a plaque at the base of the pool and i stoop to read its inscription. it reads:
“for all that i have shown you heart elated as it leaves
my request is truly simple:
send me nudes, please”
as i finish reading, there’s a rustling sound in the brush. i look up, but there’s nothing there. up above, two birds make brief song. i return my attention to the pool.
i carefully place my phone into the water, letting it rest on the rocks and sand. as if manipulated by the water, the screen flips through images stored in its memory. pictures of food i made, memes, countless selfies capturing outfits of the day, photos of dogs, demonic hentai; all pass through, finally landing on naked pictures i’ve taken of myself.
the pool pauses on three of the photos, as if to gaze upon them.
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it’s clear in this photo what i’m thinking of. i’m asking myself if i want to look up poses because i keep doing the same pose. i feel the light hitting me all wrong and i feel like an imperfect mirror.
i’m trying to look at the camera so that i don’t appear to be looking into the distance. it would also be acceptable to appear to be looking at the viewer. i take several photos to avoid being displayed at a less ideal angle.
i compare this image to images from a year earlier. i skip immediately to zooming in on the photo so i can see the corners of my eyes and examine them for wrinkles to determine the extent of their radiation. i theorize the ways this may have happened: tmj, stress or dehydration, documented in a collection of browser tabs. i recognize that this shit is not helping and that change is unavoidable. i think about cutting myself after a wave of nausea that is probably shame.
i recall the last conflict i had with my partner. i notice that i’m actually hot and remind myself that i am beautiful. i’ve taken ten photos of myself and i’m still dissociating. i wish this feeling would go away. i wish i was fifteen years old or being held underwater. these feelings are not unique and yet, by design, they are isolating and singular. there’s a carousel of photos and i view myself through correction. i see myself as a timestamp in the eyes of resolution.
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i’ve drawn myself a bath and placed a dark blue cube into the hot water. in the photo, the cube has fully dissolved into the steaming tub, which is now an ichorous pool.
my body is halfway submerged in the dark blue slime. i can tell this is an older picture by how my chest appears. the slime attaches itself to me and molds to the contours of my body. it’s a degree of self-care few may ever experience.
my hair has partially fallen into the dense liquid as i sink deeper. there’s stillness that lasts a long time.
my foot hits the stopper and there’s a churning sound. the bath takes hours to drain, during which i sit with my head on my knees and allow it to pull pain away. the inheritance of still images that describe my sexual avoidance is hereby rewritten.
cast upon the viewer of the photo are special effects within your control. with attention, you are able to rotate the image and zoom in and out on multiple axes. as you experiment with the controls, the image rotates below the floor and clips into the tub’s interior construction, then tracking vertically into my slowly moving chest cavity.
a muffled voice becomes audible mid-sentence. the voice is an alto with an air of synthesis. it directs you to rotate the camera to examine the dark blue liquid.
you follow its direction. faces form on the surface of the liquid, difficult to discern. animals move languidly and fuck each other. a motionless asp speaks your most intimate name before you drop your phone.
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the image is highly compressed and depicts my body reclined on a bean bag chair. a band-aid is barely visible on my thigh and my skin appears soft. the tiny file’s artifacting blurs the boundaries between objects in the room. i seem to be at ease. fronds of plants sitting on the windowsill dip down to my shoulder.
the sky, pictured through a window behind me, is cobalt blue. time passes and the image shifts in gradual frames. the quality of light changes as moments pass, bathing the room in cyan, then daffodil. it becomes bright.
the accidental tip of a finger is in the bottom-right corner of the photo. in this light i feel most at home.
the device flickers from the bottom of the pool where i left it. it displays the light in the image of my room deepening to tangerine and dark red. these colors reflect off the rocks below my phone and i look up to notice the sun is setting.
i don’t know what i did except that i feel better now. i don’t know who saw my nudes, except that they are gone now. herein are the three lamentations of the flesh, seen with solvent eyes, giving up something that i needed.
daphnis mxxn is a transgender succubus (it/its, xe/xir/xirself) who works across mediums including writing, music and visual art. xe channels unsettling, unusual and sublime sensations crossed with playfulness and humor into its work. subscribe to xir newsletter for updates or follow xir for cursed memes.