This is a short-short story that I finished in Southampton and shared with the participants. It was so fun to do that I’m now writing other similar pieces.
WHAT TROY WANTS
Troy is always asking me to do this, asking me to pose.
I feel like that sock puppet that went around the world, passed from place to place, pulled out of suitcases and backpacks, covered in the dirt of continents, only to be propped up against cold stone lions or balanced on precarious ledges.
He tells me to feel the art—that a photograph lives beyond the moment, beyond the room or castle or field in which it’s shot. He says everyone will find something different once they stop looking for themselves. I can’t get past the roach lying belly up on the floor of the Hindu temple.
Troy isn’t just picky about the lighting, or the framing of the subject—something else and me—he honestly thinks he’s a professional, telling me to straighten my leg ten degrees, drop my chin, arch my back, now point. Good. No, less pointy, a gentle gesture. A hint of what lies beyond.
He loves you so much, my friends say. Look, you’re in every picture he takes.
Not me, I want to tell them. A piece of me. His version of me.
To Troy, I’m a soldier following the orders he spits out, taking the ridge, climbing the base of the statue, sprawling across the hood of the custom Corvette.
He’s like this in bed too, I want to explain. Not with the camera. I put a stop to that early—but with the orders—Flipping me over like a fish, pushing my head down, circling his fingers around my neck, the whole time telling me: touch him there, kiss him like that, bite this, slap that, come.
Last week, the drugstore clerk slipped wrong photos in our batch and I saw someone else’s life.
A birthday party, a baby naked in a bucket, happy people dancing wildly at the edge of a pool. Photos of a life worth capturing.
I want to point that out to Troy, tell him what I think.
Instead, I’ll lean against the broken ship and say, “Take my picture.”