Dressed in a "triangle bra top, blue" and a "scoop
bottom," I do my little dance on the beach. The breeze is just right, enough
to make my light brown hair bounce prettily around my shoulders, but not
enough to feel cold on my bare skin. I smile for the camera, dancing around
to one pose, another, another. Too bad it's Carlos behind the camera instead
of Sammy. With Sammy it's not hard to smile. But hey, that's what they
pay me for. Carlos makes suggestions to me -- hand on hip, other hand to
my face, flip my hair back, curl my fingers, put my arm up behind my head,
while the camera goes "click, click, click-click... click, click, click,
click..." I can always tell the shot that's going to go into the catalog.
I don't know how. Maybe it's just that I've been doing this long enough,
I know what kind of pose the
editors go for, and I can tell when I've got it. Maybe it's more than that. It almost feels like for an instant, I can feel my image being frozen in time, embedded in a flat page, run off the presses, mailed to millions of women and their lovers. For an instant, I can see the college girls and housewives wishing they could look like me, and the college guys and working stiffs wishing their girlfriends and wives could look like me. I can feel all of that, compressed into the one "CLICK" of a camera... and sometimes I think that's why I do this.
I finish out the routine, even though
I know we're done. I'm a professional, after all. Carlos keeps shooting.
Sammy says he's never sure when we're done. Sometimes he can tell
he's got a really good shot, but he keeps shooting anyway, because the
right picture might not come out, or there might be a bird off in the distance
that looks like it's growing out of my head, or the execs might not like
that shot. But I've never been wrong. I always know which one they're going
The shoot ends. Carlos congratulates
me on a good shoot; I thank him. One of the lighting techs makes a pass;
I brush him off politely and make a mental note to introduce him to my
fiance if he's at the party tonight. I go to change into some real clothes,
and eventually make my way off the site. A typical shoot.
Dressed in a "triangle bra top,
blue" and a "scoop bottom," I do my little dance on the beach. The breeze
is just right, enough to make my light brown hair bounce prettily around
my shoulders, but not enough to feel cold on my bare skin. I smile for
the camera, dancing around to one pose, another, another. Too bad it's
Carlos behind the camera instead of Sammy. With Sammy it's not hard to
smile. But hey, that's what they pay me for. Carlos makes suggestions to
me -- hand on hip, other hand to my face, flip my hair back, curl my fingers,
put my arm up behind my head, while the camera goes "click, click, click-click...
click, click, cli--"
Suddenly, everything stops.
Carlos is gone. The hotel in the distance is gone. There is nothing in
front of me -- not beach, not blackness, but NOTHING. The breeze has stopped.
I can't move. I'm standing here
frozen in a bit of a sexpot pose, my knees bent, hips swayed, left hand
curled on my hip and right arm up behind my head, a bit of a smile on my
face, and I can't move. I can't breathe. I start to panic, but no sign
of it shows on my frozen features. My hair doesn't even drop back down
-- I'd feel it on my shoulders, and I don't.
Time passes. Eventually I stop panicking,
but I can do nothing else.
Then I can see something. And there's
sound too, "ka-CHUNKa, ka-CHUNKa, ka-CHUNKa," and I feel myself sliding
though a giant machine, like a factory,
like a printing press! For an instant I see another woman in front of me, in a red swimsuit, with the ocean beyond her. She comes crashing toward me, and I have just enough time to notice she's frozen in a pose something like mine. Instead of breaking bones as we crash into each other, she just slaps lightly against me and everything goes away again.
I've seen that woman before. I met
her once, at a photo shoot. I think her name is Lori. I've certainly seen
her pictures before, in the same catalogs I do.
It's almost as if I can feel her
body pressed against me sometimes. My face seems buried in her breast,
and my own breast seems pressed against her hip. I want to apologize and
back away, but of course I can't, and neither can she.
I have a lot of time to think, but
not very much to think about. It's absurd to think that I've been transported
into the catalog I was posing for... and yet, the longer I think about
it, the more I am convinced that must be what's happened. But why now?
Why this time? I've done at least thirty professional photo shoots; I've
seen my picture in a dozen catalogs; what made this one special?
Light appears. I want to blink my
eyes against the light, but I can't. On the other hand, the light isn't
as blinding as I expected. Lori in the red swimsuit is pulled away from
me, and off to the side. I can see two different images in front
of me, superimposed. On the one hand, the beach we were shooting on, with
the hotel beyond the highway in the distance. Carlos isn't there -- in
fact, there's nobody there; I seem to be all alone in the universe. On
the other hand, I see the face of a giant
woman. She looks to be in her late twenties, dark hair, attractive but not beautiful, a bit heavy. I can barely see her, at first. She looks to be staring down at something off to my right, then something below my feet. Then she stares at me, and I can see her clearly for just a moment, before she slides out of my view to the right, and I am crashing down into Lori and darkness again.
I want to see if there's another
picture on Lori's page -- if the woman was looking below my feet, that
probably means I'm sharing a page with at least one other picture, and
since Lori is about my size, she's probably doing the same -- but I think
my page curls back so that I don't have a chance to see anything on the
opposite page except Lori.
Or was this shoot special, I wonder?
I've heard there used to be some primitive tribe that believed when someone
took your picture, it stole part of your soul. Maybe they were right. Maybe
every time I've done a shoot, some little bit of my soul got transferred
into the page of a catalog. Maybe I'm not really the woman I think I am,
but just one of millions of pictures of her. Maybe that's what I could
feel, when the right picture was taken -- those tiny bits of my soul flying
off into the camera,
to be deposited on glossy paper and mailed to the world?
Light again. This time a man is
perusing my catalog. He keeps my page open longer than the woman
did. I can't see him clearly while he's looking off to my right -- at Lori,
perhaps. There is still no one else visible on my beach. There aren't even
any cars on the highway. I wish I could turn around and see if there is
any movement on the ocean behind me, but I can't. I'd bet there isn't,
though. My world is frozen in time, a photograph with only me in it.
I can just barely see the man, but
it looks as if he is no longer entirely alone. I can see the outline, the
barest shadow of a woman with him. As I watch, the shadow seems to gain
color and shape, though it doesn't move. She is posed something like I
am, and wearing a red swimsuit... could it be Lori, somehow drawn out of
the page her picture was on? I can't see her clearly enough to be sure,
but the resemblance seems too close to be coincidence.
The man caresses her. She remains
frozen, a ghostly photograph that nevertheless seems real to the man as
he strokes her thigh, traces her waist, cups her breast, touches her cheek.
Then Lori's image is fading again.
The man's huge face solidifies before me, and I can scarcely see the beach
through him. Like the woman, he seems in his late twenties. He has short
blond hair and blue eyes. I can only see him down to the chest, but he
isn't wearing a shirt. If I liked enormous blond men with possessive stares
in their eyes, I might think he's cute.
He continues to stare at me. I can
feel the naked desire in his eyes starting to turn me on, though it scares
me a little too. I want to flee from him, but I cannot move... but at least,
I don't see how he can hurt me. I'm just a pretty picture, not a real woman.
He closes his eyes. I notice that I can no longer see the beach at all. The man's face is shrinking... or is it that I am growing? I feel as if I'm in a dream, as I am no longer standing on a beach, but in a bedroom. The man is staring at me again, but now he is normal size, or else I am. He is holding a glossy catalog, which he puts down next to him on the bed. I still cannot move from my pose, though, as he stands and approaches me. I feel his hand gently touch mine, and slide up my bare arm. He reaches my shoulder, and traces the curve of my collarbone to the base of my neck, then down between my breasts.
It occurs to me that he could hurt
me now, for I seem to be real, even though I still cannot move. I cannot
slap the man's hand away from my body, nor lean
into his caresses... and I wonder which I would do, if I could.
I can do nothing as his hand jumps
over the bit of fabric connecting the two halves of my bikini top, and
continues down my torso. His fingers go just far
enough down my crotch to arouse me further, but not for long enough to really do anything, before he is gently stroking the skin of my thigh.
Then he takes my left hand in his,
and lifts it to his face. He presses my fingers against his rough cheek.
I still cannot move them -- I am like a clay sculpture of a woman, malleable
by others but immobile to myself.
He comes closer still to me, leaving
my hand up in the air beyond his head. He tips my face up, and looks into
my eyes for a moment. I wish my expression were less blank -- either
a more inviting smile or a more rejecting stare, one or the other, anything
but this blank meaningless face that cannot show him what I want. His hands
are on my waist, his fingers gently stroking my skin. Then his lips come
down and ever so gently touch mine. As our mouths touch, an incredible
excited chill runs through me. I so want to return his kiss... and as I
try to open my lips to him, I find that I can!
I sigh and moan, and put my arms
around him and hold him close to me, loving the feel of warm man against
my bare flesh. I move against him passionately,
desperately, acting on not only the excitement his look and his touch have aroused in me, but the fact that I have not been able to move a muscle for days, weeks, perhaps months. Now I cannot stop moving, cannot stop kissing him, loving him, needing him.
We break for air, air I have neither
had nor needed since the photo shoot... and before I can catch my breath,
I feel myself being pulled away from him. My legs are pulled apart, my
right arm drawn up behind my head. My right hand curls itself at my hip,
which sways out sexily. I open my mouth to speak, but before I can get
out a word my voice seizes, my mouth closes, my cheeks relax, the corners
of my lips are pulled up slightly into the slight smile I wore for the
picture. I am the picture
again. I feel the man's hand cupped around my breast for a moment, and then...
...he opens his eyes, and he is
huge again, and I'm back on my beach. A giant thumb presses against my
shoulder, and I am flipped up and crashing down on Lori once more. This
time I catch a glimpse of a larger photo of another model on the same page
with Lori, before I land on her with a gentle crinkle and the world, both
worlds, vanish again.