No, not that one. Bit too tubby.

Nah, she’s too brown.

Nope, fucked-up teeth.

Okay, here we go. Ah yeah, she’s gorgeous.

Mumbling to himself, Will scrolls down the screen. He flicks back and forth as the pale light flickers across his face. His cursor stumbles around the page and bounces from hyperlink to hyperlink. His eyes try to keep up, but they keep dragging across the images of flesh. He personally wouldn’t call the women he looks at “whores” or even “prostitutes,” but that is what they are. His hair is wet from the shower, the tips cold and dripping. There is a towel across his lap and tucked underneath to protect the chair.

Earlier that day, he had made the decision that, at last, he would lose his virginity. Enough was enough. There wasn’t a girl out there for him, not one to form a relationship with anyway. None of them wanted a relationship. Yet the funny thing was, he found, that they wanted far more than a relationship, demanded something that was more encompassing. They hungered for attention, which was a hunger that without a relationship became insatiable. Fair to say, Will found that every girl he met wanted attention at every moment, even when apart, even when it was unwarranted. They wanted to give their attention in a flash, a supernova that quickly vanished, so that any male reciprocity would be infinite.

How do I pay for this? She wants Coines? Well I’m not making a Digiwallet for this.

Do none of these girls take a credit card?

Okay, wait, I have to add tokens to my account, and then…

He’d made his momentous decision while visiting his parents. He’d gone for a visit, Sunday lunch, a tradition he’d insisted on replicating, and while there had been some resistance when he first broached the topic, they as a family had agreed to settle on microwaved food in front of the TV. There they sat every Sunday watching whatever league was in session. That day, it had been the U.S. quarter-finals for Champions of Valor. The winner would then go on to compete at Worlds. His father’s team were playing, so there had been a lot of yelling. His mother had sat off to the side and flinched every time his father exploded from the chair. Will had squirmed as he prodded his vegetable and protein mix in front of him, the oxidized stench not the least appetizing he had smelled that day. He’d looked up and seen his childhood photos.

The one he always lingered on was from his first birthday. There he is, his parents proudly holding him and a tablet side by side. Now it was the screen that took pride of place. Did they ever look up from it to look at the past, he wondered.

He doesn’t blame them, though. That’s how they were brought up.

Will, on the other hand, was an odd child and an even odder young adult, or an odd one out. He would scream every time he saw the TV screen flicker on as a toddler. He would throw a tantrum when his parents placed a phone anywhere near his blocks. As far back as he can remember, his parents were on their phones. There’s no specific moment, nothing that really jumps out, only the realization that when he did gain enough consciousness for memory, all he could see was a blue light shading the faces of his parents. When he was four, five, trying to draw their eye, maybe show them some abstract painting or block configuration, they would be distracted every single time. They had a glazed-over look, and even if they weren’t on their phones, they would soon reach for it like a ticking itch.

With a jerk, Will stands up and pushes the chair away. He can never look at a screen for long. It’s nothing to do with his eyes or the glare. He has flashes of memory, reflections within reflections, imposed selfies with his parents. Not a chirpy self-portrait, but a horrible rendition of his self. He was made to see himself from a very young age with a tentacled nose, oversized eyes, and extra appendages, all dusted with sparkles. Behind the phone his parents smiled, grinning lunatics proud of the cheap tricks that morphed his visage. That’s why he can’t look at anything on screen for long. He worries that the pictures of women he’s just pored over aren’t as fake as everything else in the world. Throwing on his nicest shirt, the fabric sticking to his already slightly sweaty skin, he looks in the mirror and brushes back his hair with his hand.

Should I comb it or leave it messy?


Better brush my teeth.

Will quickly checks the computer again, notes that the girl is on her way. His heart leaps, an extraordinary pump that shakes him. On the website is a map of the city and a blinking image—lush red lips—moves inexorably towards his location. It stops and starts, either traffic or lag. So too does his heart beat in his chest, stopping and starting to make a constricted feeling. He wonders for a moment if this is what love is like.

Is it too late to order food as well?

Will she be hungry?

Maybe I should set the table for us both. Would that be romantic?

There’s a buzz as someone downstairs presses the intercom. She’s arrived.

With a last look over himself, Will presses the button to let her in. He calculates how long it’s going to take her to travel up the elevator and walk down the hall. He imagines her gait, her movements. She looms large in his mind even though he’s never laid eyes on her. There is only hips, tight dress, a perfect face, and her looking into his eyes.

There’s a rapid tap, tap, tap. She’s at the door. He lets out a breath he’s been holding since she buzzed. He opens the door and scuffs his knee with it.



A neighbour walks past behind the woman, gives her a look up and down.

You going to invite me in, hon?

Yes, of course. Would you like to come in?

She smiles. He steps aside and she flows inside. He catches a whiff of her perfume and shivers. It’s sweet like candy. He closes the door and turns back to her. She’s already on her phone.

You think you could put that away?

Give me a sec. Business, you know?

He stares at her. She’s wearing a faded black dress that is tattered at the bottom. She looks different from the photo, but that shouldn’t surprise him. He should be used to the difference between the screen and reality. It’s her makeup. Her mascara has run a little under her eyes. Her lipstick is purple, not the advertised red. Strands of hair fall out of the braid. Will’s eyes pick over every little discrepancy. He balls his fist and inhales sharply.

People love their screens. They love their gadgets and widgets and anything that throws a shadow against the wall. His parents had tried to bring Will into the fold, as it were, by handing him over to the screen.

That’s how this girl has been brought up.

So, how do you we do this?

That’s up to you, sugar.

The girl’s eyes don’t leave the phone.

Do you think you could concentrate on me?


She looks at him now, a flick of her wrist popping the phone away.

I mean, I’m paying for this right? You think you could put the phone away?

You tell me what we’re doing and maybe I’ll put it away.

Aren’t we just having sex?

Tell me, have you ever fucked? No one who has fucked would ask that.

I don’t have to answer that.

She laughs.

This isn’t a police investigation, sweetie.

With a jolt, he walks towards her, arms half-raised. He goes to put them around her, but she slaps his hands away.

Easy there, tiger, that’s not how it works. You lie down and I’ll handle this.

Mulling over the handful of names he’s been referred to as already, Will steps back and sits on the edge of the bed.  She puts the phone away and puts her things on the chair. She turns back to him and slips the dress from her shoulder and presses her breasts up. When she lets them go, they bounce, pointing away like repulsing magnets. She looks at him with her tongue protruding from a grin.

Why are you still dressed?

He strips and then perches on the end of the bed in only his underwear. She nods approval and begins to gyrate in front of him. She locks eyes with him and with a quick shuffle is on his lap.

You getting hard, cutie? You wanna feel how wet this pussy is?

He grunts an agreement. Her hand gropes for his cock.

Hmm, that’s disappointing. You sure you’re into this?

She looks concerned. She’s focusing on him intently like he’s a pet project. He’s a problem to be fixed by her.

It’s nothing, I just…

First-time nerves; that’s okay. I know just the thing.

She pulls back and gets on her knees. With both hands, she rips his underwear down. Her eyes go large and she flashes her eyebrows at him and then takes him in her mouth.

A minute goes by and she swirls the flaccid dick around, but it doesn’t rise to the occasion. She falls back on her rear. The look she throws up now in less concern and more contempt.

You know I still get paid, right?

Yes, of course.

She stands up and walks over to her purse. She fishes inside for her phone then walks over to the bed and flops down.

She’s still naked and so is Will. He looks down at her as the glow washes her face. His eyes trail over her body and he stirs.

Lie like that.


I said, can you just lie like that.

Sure, whatever.

She doesn’t look up.

He gets on to the bed and she starts to move as if to make room for him.

No, stay like that.

I need to get comfortable.

Ok, on your back.

She rolls over and starts to put the phone away to the side but Will firmly grips her by the wrist and brings her hand, phone included, back towards her chest.

I want you to look at it.

Didn’t you want me off it before?

Yeah, but…

His eyes dart down and she looks too. A slight smile crosses her face.

Whatever works for you, man.

She raises the phone to be in front of her face. Will trembles as he enters her.