Write On Edge's prompt this week involves one of two pictures, showing here. My story is based on the second picture, called "Model Citizen".
It was kind of funny. They want to make the pictures natural looking, but in order to do that, they bring artificial lights, and fans, and probably 20 different people being paid by the hour to make sure I look natural. They do this by fiddling with every possible variable- the blush on my cheek, the amount of blonde in my hair, the shine on the tip of the 700 dollar shoe I'm supposed to be selling. There has to be some wind blowing, but not too much- bystanders in the background, but photogenic ones.
I've been doing it for so long it hardly fazes me anymore. Yes, fine, fiddle with that. Sure. No trouble. Turn 4 millimeters to my right? Of course. Sun's behind a cloud? Yes, I'll wait.
It's a strange thing, being this object that all the action centers around. And that's what you are- an object. A pretty thing for them to hang their stuff on.
Helmut calls a break, so I take my leg down from the bench. I feel the muscles of my leg bunching uncomfortable, so I take a couple of tiny steps to try and make the feeling go away. The shoes aren't really comfortable, but that's not the point, is it?
There's a young woman, maybe 20 years old or so, staring at me open mouthed from behind the camera. I recognize the look. It's "I hate you for looking that good" mixed with "I wish I could look that good", about half and half. She's pretty enough, conventionally speaking- a nice, average looking girl body, with cute glasses and a short, spunky haircut. I looked at her skirt, her shoes, the way her blouse stretched tight across her body. I wondered what her life was like. Did she have a boyfriend? Would she go home and spitefully finish a pint of ice cream by herself?
I wished I knew, for a minute, what her life felt like. Not obsessing about skin tone, and angles, and blisters, and weight, and time.
"OK! Let's go everyone!," Helmut called out. I took a couple of tiny, teetering steps, back to the hard steel bench. The girl turned away and walked across the square. I watched her walk as the functionaries fussed and fluttered around the body. At least, I thought, with all her imperfections, she owns her body. I feel like I'm renting.