I3 Bradley

I started masturbating to pictures of you and stopped trying to find ways to justify it to myself. You are obsessed with Anne Frank and I tell myself: it’s impossible to be in love with a girl who wants to be Anne Frank. No matter how hard I try, though, I seem to be exactly the kind of guy who falls in love with such a girl.
            The pictures are all the same. You, looking out a window, clutching The Diary of a Young Girl. It’s not a stretch to picture you naked. The jean shorts you are wearing are skintight and barely cover your ass. The book covers your breasts. I wish I could see your shoulders.
            I stole the pictures from your online profile. You have over five hundred friends, so you probably don’t even know who I am. We had class together once, Geometry. I tried to ask you on a date and ended up asking what kind of car your mom drives. You stared at me like I should ride the short bus.
            I should have said, “Anne Frank died at 15, the same age we are now. Shouldn’t we make the best of the time we have?”
            Most of your status updates are about how oppressive your parents are. I put a towel at the base of my door at night so my parents don’t see the light from my computer. In the dark I read all your updates from the day. Then I look at the pictures until I can’t take it anymore. I pull out an old gym sock, close my eyes, pretend your house is Bergen-Belsen. That I am an American soldier, liberating the camp. That I have arrived just in time.
Ryan W. Bradley has fronted a punk band, done construction in the Arctic Circle, managed an independent children’s bookstore, and now designs book covers. He is the author of three chapbooks, a story collection, Prize Winners (Artistically Declined Press, 2011) and a novel, Code for Failure (Black Coffee Press, 2012). In 2013 Curbside Splendor will publish The Waiting Tide, a poetry collection homage to Pablo Neruda. He received his MFA from Pacific University and lives in Oregon with his wife and two sons.