WHEN I SEE IT by Adam Peterson

Here’s why this is terrible pornography—

One—it’s a bit too much like the Bible. 

There’s a man with stringy hair talking about sin, but he doesn’t actually commit any. Instead he promises us redemption and tell us which ex-wife we’ll still be married to in heaven.

Annie. It will be Annie.

Two—when the man is arrested, it isn’t for public fornication or indecent exposure. If anything, he’s only wearing more clothes now. No, he’s charged with tax evasion and given 18 months. When a dour bailiff leads the man away six black rabbits follow his shackled feet.

You know who liked rabbits? Mary Beth. 

Who will she be married to in heaven? Ingrid will be fine—she loves Wayne now anyway—but my god Mary Beth will be alone forever. 

And there I’ll be with tragic, beautiful Annie who remembers too much.

Three—when the man is in prison, he doesn’t take showers or have a domineering cellmate but just sits there learning basket weaving. And what does he put in the baskets? Not sex toys, that’s for sure. 

No, he puts in letters he writes to someone name Jill. Is Jill his lover? Mother? Sister? Is Jill stacked? I’ll never know because—

Four—when the man leaves the prison, he’s a little older, a little thicker, a real daddy type. Things almost pick up when he goes to a small café where a pretty waitress bends over to clean his table. 

Finally. Dampness. Bending. A rubbing of the table that leaves it glistening and moist. But—

Five—the man complains that his sleeves got wet. Okay, okay, maybe she’ll find some way of making it up to him. 

O, she does. By bringing him a single uncooked potato on a yellow plate. 

What fucking kink is this?

The man takes a rough bite as the waitress holds the plate. After laboriously chewing, he chokes it down hard—which sound erotic but is the opposite—then they watch a fly stuck inside the windowpane for a good 20, 30 orgasm-less minutes. 

Maybe this pornography is French. That would explain a great deal.

Mary Beth always wanted to go to Paris. Annie lived in France as a girl, saved her cruelest recriminations for the language, and why, O god, will it be Annie? 

Six—the climax, so to speak—so to speak very generously—is the woman alone on a wintery beach. She wears a black veil. Each of her tears forms a black rabbit that hops into the ocean. 

My lord, this pornography’s taught me so much about heaven. There, a feeling has no past tense. There, when I see Annie, it will be as if nothing ever happened with the pool boy or Mary Beth or—

Mary Beth. 

What can I say? Nothing. Even where love lasts forever, there’s no relief in a feeling unshared. And so the rabbits drown. The film ends.

Hello, my love. Goodbye.


Adam Peterson is the author of the collections My Untimely Death, The Flasher, and [SPOILER ALERT] (with Laura Eve Engel). His fiction has appeared in Epoch, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.

Art by Crow Jonah Norlander.

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