Stephanie Sellars

I Saw You When

I saw you when he smiled at me from the chair in desirous anticipation. I saw you when I bumped my hips to the bass drum, I saw you when I wiggled my boobs in his face, I saw you when I shimmied on his lap like the languid strips in a car wash, covering all surfaces with the slightest sway. I saw you when he laughed at my comic timing to Peggy Lee’s riffs, kicking my stocking legs up like a Broadway chorus girl. “That was all improvised,” I said at the end of the song.

Not every man wears the mischievous in the corners of lips, the tilt of chin. He basked in surrender like you did so often before you saw me as an evil stepmother stepping on your dreams. And now look—I’m his dream. 

I saw you when he was on his back and I floated down to kiss his lips that were cousins to yours, when I marked the outline of lust in his pants. 

“I think we need to release him,” she said, like I said who knows how many times when we had a third. I saw you in her showcasing of him, remembering my pride. 

I saw you in the cushion of two mounds supporting him like a bun, his hot dog gliding back and forth between her cheeks, her moaning as he looked at me, like you looked at others. He said, “See! Didn’t I tell you about this ass?” 

Oh how you loved to show me off. We were both proud. 

Remember, on the first birthday you had with me, I gave you three women? It was his birthday too. I saw you when I bought cupcakes, remembering the frosting smeared on your nipples and thighs. 

She didn’t surprise him like I surprised you, but the outlines don’t ever match the script. 

I saw you in his words, the running narrative of pussy and cock… she’s touching your pussy, she’s playing with my cock, I’m so hard, will you help put me in her? Exposition left out of our scripts and novels. Three writers in bed lose all sense of nuance. 

“Put me in her,” you said to so many hers. I loved how sweetly you directed. You are not a writer, but a fine actor. 

We can see the same play twice with different actors and think, the direction is new and exciting, yet echoes of the original performance reverberate when the actors, no matter how different, are speaking the same lines.

In this production, since it is his birthday, She suggests most of the attention be on him, but they want to give it to Her. “Oh yeah,” She says, “I’m the new element.”

Did the playwright make revisions? Introduce a new element? Sometimes the new interpretation is so good, we forget the original incarnation. It’s as if The Third is thinking.

Now I’m the one we needed to keep from boring or killing each other. Who are you now? 

They seem happier and more functional than we were, but the new element never goes backstage.

I saw him for him, but if I had to cast someone to play you in a movie, he would be an ideal choice: similar height, build, smile, nose, cock, chest hair. Yours is darker, but maybe not for too much longer. Similar words, tones, laugh, energy, charisma. You without the boasting and monopolizing. Everything I loved. Surrogates supposedly match the best aspects of the original with a different flavor and texture, like vegan meat. But they are neither replications nor replacements. 

When he asked her, “Should I cum on your back or inside you?” And she said, “On my back,” I remembered you asking me something similar. Replace “back” with “ass” and there you have it. 

We think we are so original during sex, as if the things we say have never been done before, as if they are taboo and we invented them or are inventing them in the moment. Some things are taboo, but most are not. “Should I cum on your back?” and “Should I cum on your ass?” sound like the most brilliant, controversial ideas in the world, and so I watch them with awe while telling you, “Yes, I want you to cum on my ass, cum all over my ass, I want to feel your hot cum, I want you to explode and release your hot cum all over me…” (note the arrhythmic repetition, lack of variation in diction, sensations accelerating through increased specificity of verbs, the power of a tiny adverb to create a full picture) 

All. Is it banal? Or literary?

To utter these words is to make a decree, start a revolution, orate a momentous speech that is quoted over and over again. When he said, “I’m going to cum on you,” I saw and felt you cumming on me as if it was nothing like him cumming on her, as if you and I and he and she weren’t at all like two strangers fucking in front of a mirrored wall in a hotel followed by a wad of bills in a sticky hand.

There is a difference between deliberate conjuration and free association of memory and fantasy, but the You is there, whether we see him or not. 

I saw you but didn’t think of you, didn’t will you into mind until I was on my way to orgasm, adapting to his tongue. I thought of you losing control, the standard playlist of desperation to push me over the edge: pissing yourself, cumming in your pants, cumming all over me because you just can’t hold it in anymore. 

I placed you in the room, watching me as the new element, not seeing you but knowing you’re jerking off while I cum. Seeing you, not seeing you, feeling you, not feeling you, seeing him and her and them and me and you and everything. 

As he walked me to the train, he asked how I was doing. I said it was exactly a year ago when you and I separated. “I am much better now, but grief is not linear.” 

At the corner, we kissed. Then he went to pick up his kid from school.  

We never had kids. But I saw you. And I saw me, seeing you off. 


Stephanie Sellars holds MFAs from Columbia University (film) and Bennington Writing Seminars. Her feature film Lust Life Love is distributed by 1091 Pictures on VOD platforms. Her writing has appeared in Hobart Pulp, Defenestration, Entropy, Moviemaker and elsewhere. She can be heard singing jazz on Spotify and ITunes. She lives in New York City and the Hudson Valley. IG: @the_stephaniesellars

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