Permanent link to this page


Love Story


She asked him to hit her and he did.


He didn’t hold back.

She screamed, more out of shock than pain. The sting only lasted a second, but when they stopped, a few minutes later, he looked down and saw that his hand had left a mark. Probably, she thought, he’d been looking at it the whole time.

“You’ve got to see this,” he said. She twisted around and saw red in places that were usually white. It wouldn’t last.

“Get the camera,” he said.

“No,” she said, but her refusal was a reflex. She knew, already, that she was going to do what he told her. She continued, anyway, feigning petulance. “I don’t know where it is.”

“I can see it,” he insisted. “It’s right there.” She knew he was lying, because she was lying too; she knew the camera was perched high on a bookshelf, out of sight. She lay still, her head on his shoulder. And then, lower: “Go get it.”

She rose. She crossed the room, retrieved the camera, and handed it to him. Then she kneeled on the cushion, steadied herself against the wall, and offered herself to him. He leaned over, fumbled with the buttons, and aimed the lens.

After the shutter clicked, he gave it back, and she saw on the little screen that it was perfect, a red print, exactly where he’d struck her, the shape of his hand. Not just the palm: The thumb, each finger. It looked like it had been painted on. Tattooed. It really was beautiful. He told her to send the picture to him, later, and later she did, a file named “ouch.jpg” in an email with the subject line XXX. She told herself that it was stupid, but she didn’t care.

This, she figured, must be what it feels like to not hold back.

Lauren Waterman is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer whose nonfiction work has been featured in Vogue, In Style, Boston Magazine, and New York. She recently received her M.F.A. in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.