“Get the attention you deserve.”
Despite the protestations of Edmontonians, autumn continues apace. The temperature dropped below freezing, and with precipitation, brought the season’s first snow. It would bring with it a cutting wind that at least had the courtesy to make me feel what I had felt for some months: a sense of cold, numb, a stinging pain made distant, but never entirely gone.
Several hours after her words flashed across my screen, I made my way to a busy downtown street. I wanted the histories to tower over me. On either side of the avenue stood scowling sentinels, snow-peppered witnesses to drunken revelry and crime of desperation. So too did they bear witness to hapless little me, waltzing straight into the black widow’s web. I traced my steps past her apartment, the grocery store we’d walk to, the drug store where she’d buy her stupid “all natural” this and that, the corner where she first called me girlfriend, the pizza parlour we had our first date at, the restaurant of our second date, the pub where we celebrated with friends, the place where we celebrated Valentines, the bus stop where we’d await our public chariot to the local dungeon.
“Get the attention you deserve,” or so sayeth the dating profile from the app that had the indifferent cruelty to tell me my rapist was, evidently, a “great match.” Her piercing blue eyes filled my screen, her hair flowing behind her as if she posed for a shampoo commercial. Knowing her, she did. Of course it would be her profile picture. She was beautiful, stunning, statuesque. Every bit as alluring as when we first met. The app, in its ignorant calculus, specifically recommends her.
“Get the attention you deserve.” What a way to introduce yourself. She is an escort, I suppose. Perhaps that was the logic in her mind when she humiliated me while I was at her mercy. You couldn’t convince her she did anything wrong that night–certainly a select few of our mutual friends tried. Seeing the first line of her profile, the profile so graciously specially recommended so we’ll send it straight to your phone! by the dating app, brought to the surface the flood of our peers. Their indifferent scoffs and eyerolls and “I don’t do dramas,” composing a tangle of silk all leading back to her hands. After so many months stumbling through the “why” of it all, the answer delivered itself to my phone: She thought I “deserved it.” She says so herself at the start of her profile. The attention I deserve.
In a sense, it is clarity. I stare at the street ahead of me, knowing the web I am about to traverse. The wind has the common decency to make my plunge into ice literal. I thank it. I trace these good memories not as a testament to the good person I think she can be, but as a reminder of how skilled her act is.
She may spin her web. I will burn it down.