The silence was cold. They stared away from each other before anything was said. She admired the embroidery on the left armrest and he poked holes in the right with a tak. Between them was a phone, lit with a photo of them on the screen. She had so many questions, but no idea how to ask them.
"I've been so frustrated lately," his voice pierced the quiet with echoes of tension. "My job doesn't pay enough for me to buy new equipment. People are asking for videos, but I don't know how I can provide them. I mean I do but..."
She watched him talk about this many times since someone stole his equipment. She wonder why she still listened, why he still tells her. Is it because he has nothing else to talk about? They don't see each other as often as they used and when they do it's mostly for sex. She wondered about the highlights of his day or the small things that pissed him off and why he had no urge to tell her about them.
Hours before, she had been perusing the Instagram pages of strangers. She saw that one of her friends liked a picture of a brown girl with an orange peel in her mouth against a blue background. She clicked it and the picture belonged to @photoboy. Cool name. She went to his page and saw that there were many photos of this girl. She clicked on another with a caption that read, "Love of my life." She smiled. She longed for that sort of authentic admiration. The kind you can't fake. It made her feel unloved to see that. She wondered why he never posted photos of her. She isn't ugly, she isn't delusional, they are definitely together. So what was he so ashamed of? The question,"Do you love someone else?" often dissolved from her tongue when they spoke. Soon there was more silence.
"Why don't you get new equipment?" She asks.
"I just told you I don't make enough." He replies.
"Well yeah, but you could save up for it. Just don't buy beer as often as you do."
"No that won't work. I'll figure it out, don't worry. What was it you wanted to talk about?"
Her face went numb. She knew this was her chance to get answers to her lingering questions. She opened her mouth to speak, but then took a deep breath instead.
"Umm..." She stalled.
She could feel all of the sense that she was making earlier turn to mush.
"Lately... I've been feeling kind of... lost." She murmured.
Crap, that isn't the right word.
"Ok... Lost where?"
"Well if I knew then I wouldn't be lost."
"Ok I'm very confused. What is going on here?"
She looked up at him. Tears were building in her eyes.
"I...just.." She could barely get out a single word.
She felt nausea in her gut. The question was haunting her and clogging her throat. Would he think she was crazy? I'm not crazy.
"Are you ok?" He asked.
He leaned over to console her but she pushed him away.
"No" She said.
She looked up, more confident. She remembered why this all made sense.
"Do you love someone else?" --- A day later she was on @photoboy's page again. She clicks on a photo of his girlfriend. This is love. She saw a comment from someone named @illtress that read, "Her skin is so beautiful."
The 'go-to' compliment for brown girls.
She clicked on the page and it was a girl. There was one photo posted. It was of her posing suggestively in a mirror. She clicked on that and there was a comment that read, "mine." It was @photoboy. She got off of Instagram.