“Don’t make the world worse” was Iggy’s mantra. He thought this while overlooking the point where the Santa Ana River feeds into the ocean. He thought it as he flicked his cigarette butt into the water and watched the drizzling rain toss the orange dot around. Iggy imagined it was a boat at sea and thought of its fishermen clamoring to not fall overboard until a small fish swam up and gulped the whole thing down, cementing the little scene in Iggy’s head.

He wondered again why he was in Orange County. How he ended up on a bridge in the rain with a fishing pole strapped to his back. Why he, who had hardly in his life ever stepped outdoors, was frustrated that he didn’t get a single bite that day on the beach. He lit another cigarette and tried to stop thinking as he walked back to his car.

Driving home, he decided to call Sarah. “Hello?” she said.

“Hey, I’m about to pass by. You home?”

“Yeah, but I’m busy.”

“What could you possibly be busy with?”

“I have a live-show starting in a minute. You can come watch if you want.”

Sarah was a camgirl. At first, this killed Iggy, the idea burrowing deep into his consciousness past his initial impression of her as a sweet, modest, brown-haired homebody who loved her family and God. It couldn’t possibly be both ways. But it was, and he cared less each time he fucked her.

“Rain check,” he told her.

“What are you doing tonight? My mom’s in Colorado.”

“I’ll be there,” he said.

“Cool. I gotta go now, call me later.”

“Will do.”

She hung up. He felt better now. The sound of her voice, uncaring and oblivious to his loneliness, made him feel less lonely. She didn’t ask what was wrong and he liked it that way. There was no disappointing her. To him, there was no possible way to fuck up their arrangement. That is, until she would inevitably find someone who would take her seriously, and they would take each other seriously, and Iggy would be left a spectator, thinking about the time he pulled out of her ass and saw a speck of brown. She never knew about that. He would feel bad for the guy who comes along and doesn’t know about that either.

He didn’t want to talk to Maya. She said he was “hers” and told him she was “his.” Maya was Sarah’s inverse. She was made to be disappointed. She expected a call before bed and one first thing in the morning. She called him “baby” within the first week of meeting him. She loved to kiss and hug and tell him he was so cute, despite him knowing well that he wasn’t with his homemade haircut and state-mandated quarantine gut. Iggy didn’t want to talk to her but now she was calling.

“Cutieeeeeee,” she said.

Iggy bore down and said, “Hey.”

“How was the beach, baby?”

“It was fine. Just cold as hell. How are you?”

“Oh my God, I have to tell you a story,” she said, “So I was walking Penny this morning and you know how I told you about the angel numbers? How they be following me? Well I was in my neighborhood and this fool had 333 tatted on his face and he was just standing there and he asked if he could pet her.”

“Did you let him?” Iggy said. He was actively trying not to withdraw, forcing himself to say words and not just grunt to acknowledge what she was saying. He knew she didn’t deserve this. Over the past few weeks, she let him know how much he meant to her after how bad this year had been. She was laid off of work. Her cousin died, shot in the head while crossing the street. She told Iggy once that she prayed a good man would come along. She said her prayers were answered.

Still, though, he couldn’t bring himself to stomach that East L.A. affect in her voice. It was always “they be,” “she be,” “he be.” He be doing the most. She weird. These fools be doing the extras. All this in between laughing at her own jokes and sucking her teeth to make that clicking sound that made Iggy gag. What sickened Iggy more was that he couldn’t put this flaw to the back of his mind for someone who couldn’t possibly give him more.

“Yeah, I did,” she said, “He was really nice, though like he really always out here, I guess. He told me he used to be a Nazi, which is weird because I really thought he Mexican. But I’m telling you those numbers are real like they follow me. I gotta show you what they mean later.”

“Sounds good to me,” Iggy said.

“What time you gonna be home? I got a surprise for you.”

Iggy thought about it. Washed up in guilt for feeling the way he did.

“Think I’m gonna grab some lunch first. I’ll let you know,” he said.

“What are you gonna eat, baby?”

“Tacos, I think. You know what, I’m actually pulling up right now. Can I call you later?”

“Sure. Have one for me, boo.”

“I will. Bye.”

He could feel her smiling over the phone, stretching his heart like elastic. He called her back.

“Did you already get your food, baby?”

“What? No, I didn’t. I just had to tell you something.”


Iggy knocked on Sarah’s door. She answered in an oversized T-shirt smelling like vanilla bean ice cream. “What’s up?” she said, quick and cheery, before turning around to lead Iggy upstairs. He shut the door behind him. She led him to her bedroom.

“Lay down. I have a surprise for you.”

“You and everyone else today.”

She pretended to laugh. He sat down on her bed and watched her go to the dresser to get something from a drawer.

“Take your clothes off,” she said, hiding something behind her back.

Iggy gave her a look.

“Just do it,” she said, and so he did. “Alright, now lay on your stomach.”

“No, no, no, no, I’m good. Not this again.”

“Relax, it’s not what you think.”

“I swear to God—”

“Relax.” She pushed him without much effort and then he was on his back. She took off her shirt and kissed him slow, shushing him with her lips barely touching his. She nudged him to roll over. Iggy complied.

He heard an industrial buzzing sound then felt it on his back. It dug into his neck, his collarbones, in-between his sunburnt shoulders.

“Not so bad, right?”

“Not at all,” he said.

She ran the length of his back with her baby blue vibrator the size of a baseball bat. Iggy turned around and saw. He let out a laugh he’d never heard from himself. She laughed too and threw her body on top of his.

“Let me finish!” she said, still giggling.

“Alright, alright, go for it.”

He felt her circling around the top of his back, where there was a tattoo of St. Michael the Archangel.

“Michael gets a massage too.”

Iggy smiled into the pillow beneath him.

“He needs it,” he said.

Moments passed, only the sound of the vibrator filling the room. The room dimly lit in neon pink by a sign that said “love yourself” hanging on the wall. An art print hanging next to her 4K 60” smart TV read “sex work is real work.” Iggy wondered how much of this had been gifted to her by her fans. Sex fiends preying on a 23-year-old girl desperately grasping for an identity. Buying her love. Buying her attention.

He rolled over on his back and looked at her. Closed lip smile and dark night doe eyes. He asked if her eyelashes were real. Sarah leaned down and kissed him. His tongue met her teeth, lingering for a moment. Her hand on his chest. His on her waist now. She pulled away.

“You know…when me and my sister were kids…at church, to pass the time…we would give each other hand massages.” she whispered it slow and delicate, letting Iggy feel like he was in on some intimate secret.

He grinned, “I love that.”

She collapsed next to him. She grabbed the TV remote from her nightstand and put on a cartoon made for adults.

“Do you watch this?” she said.

“No,” Iggy said.

“Oh well, you’re gonna.” She put her head in his armpit where she could hear his heart beating. She dragged her manicured nails up and down his thigh. She kissed his neck whenever he stopped running his fingers across her back. They lay there until they slept, the TV playing when they awoke the next morning.


Ten missed calls. All Maya. Iggy listened to one voicemail before he had enough.

“I don’t know what happened to you, but I’m too grown for this shit. I’ve had enough men fuck me then change their mind for me to know whatchu about. Call me back if you want, but I gotchu fuckin’ blocked.” Iggy went back to sleep.


When he woke up, Sarah was gone. He started to put his clothes back on when she walked into the room. She was holding a glass of water.

“You gotta go?” she said.


“Here,” she handed him the glass of water, “Stay for a little bit.”

He sipped the water, felt rested. They finished watching their cartoon a few hours later. Iggy kissed her goodbye, realizing that this was the first time he came over and didn’t fuck her. She told him to text her when he got home.

When he got there, there was a shopping bag set on the ground at his front door. A receipt stapled to it had “fuck you” scrawled in a loopy handwriting. A two-dollar fishing lure and a folded up love note shuffled around inside. Iggy decided he’d go back to Sarah’s tonight, whether she wanted him to or not. Whether or not what they had would take on a different shade and he would accidentally find himself loved again.