a wipe

Megan Snowe

Two transparent round forms undulating towards each other but never touching.
Image courtesy of the author

There is a droplet of something — anything from sweat, cum, pus — on my screen. It had seeped through.

I wipe and it spreads.

This wipe is, for a brief second, just my fingers swimming through a body of foreign fluid, then emerging from it onto the shore, forming lips over-stimulated pics. The tip of my forefinger pushes into the little puddle, fondles. I take a bit on my thumb and rub in a circular motion. Things quickly get sticky.

This wipe is a caress, a dismissal, a way to buy some time because this is the closest we’ve been. I linger and make sure to feel this with pores, surfaces, nerves, and appetite. I’m feigning the intent to clean you off because, honestly, I’ve been waiting for fluid share for a while. I can’t appear too thrilled. Thrilled.

This wipe is also just a wipe because there is something on my phone screen. It is warm. There had been a breach. You came across. 

A wipe is only as effective as one’s intent. Typically I wipe with vigor and precision. This wipe is negligent and reveals more than it removes. It reveals the chemical complexity of our connection. It reveals a weakness in our networks, our media, and our abilities to maintain the critical distance.

Typically held tight by the tension of frequent buzzes, you’ve found a crack in the barrier, or rather the fluid has found it because fluids always seem to. Fluids have great power and are obnoxiously persistent. This fluid, your fluid, is slightly viscous. The smear on the screen is a picture-perfect mess; if left to dry it would become crusty, possibly later removed by an inquisitive nail. But it is wet still and I haven’t decided how to manage it. It is pulsing still. It is throbbing still. For the time being it is mingling with the grease from my skin.

By choice and circumstance, you are an enigma, a haunting phantom. Even before this, you had lurked in my real world. I share your content with everyone, but I’ve kept a few of your selfies to myself. Your most recent activity had been an edit to a shared doc – commenting on grammar and showing mild dominance. I like that. I saw the flirt because I knew what to look for. 

I’d never imagined you fully nude before the wipe – and maybe you weren’t at the time, but I imagined, that’s what matters. Before the wipe you had been draped in this deceptively inflexible surface: a thin glass sheet, firm in its boundary, yet impressionable and immense. Now your body peaked out from behind this invisibility cloak. My phone groaned. It is a casual yet precious medium for spirits. 

Odd how often I’ve touched this sensitive cold slab; how often I’ve gripped it desperate to write something innocuous but necessary. A ‘let’s hang’, an ‘I’m eating this’, a ‘where you’. The greased depths of the dark rectangular pool appear frozen. The ice on top seems to have captured the rhythms of the channels below, that churn constantly. It appears frozen, but I know it to be a mucky mire where I’ve been stuck, swallowed, lost, and sinking. Half conscious, I’ve lost hours stroking up and watching content float by.

The breakthrough suggests bodily contact on your side. Something must have pressed urgently or just urging. Something must have touched a sensitive area. You’d liked my brunch; I’d discovered college-years you deep in your photo archives. We’d been playing subtle games of tag and relay and hide and seek. Recently my strategies had dissolved in the humid heat of wanting you; fogging up windows with sebum. The finger marks reflect the light, making a shifty pattern of layered white spots and lines. I’ve captured evidence of us on screen.

There is no shame in distraction. There’s no shame in fluids, though this contrast of control – of the precise yet precarious digital device and the messy mystery of physics which is liquid – can be confusing. This “smart” thing is, in a number of ways, our desiring machine, a driving force behind our behaviors and positions. 

I’ve spent years of my life looking down on it and my neck hurts.

My fingers moved in the perfect progression to cause a gush. Pleasure or no, it wasn’t clear, or it didn’t matter. All of our indirect messaging had made both equally possible. I stroke you lightly or I use my entire hand to avoid confusion. If it is sweaty the screen gets flustered. I can relate, but can something like this be too sensitive? Can this little magic machine be overwhelmed by what my body does naturally? My sweat gathers in a puddle in my palm, my cum on my fingertips, my pimple pus under my nails.  And now it has ended up on my screen. Now it has pushed through pixels and defied media rules.

In all honesty, it could be me. 

The drop could be a glob of my body. 

But hadn’t your quiet passion pushed through matter? Hadn’t a body fluid ejected with such force? Hadn’t your friendly requests for content really meant you were hunting for prey? On the prowl? A beast, hungry for contact? It is odd to doubt my literacy of online signals. This platform doesn’t support every element needed – like intonation or smirks or body shifts – to understand the complex agenda that lies behind your posting habits. It was all for me, part of building a tense us, I know. I know? Is it possible that I’d only assumed this was happening? I suppose. I suppose a drip on my side was more likely than a crossing of the digital divide, but I’m not (completely) sure.