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Prompt 2 – Focus

by | FlashFicFeb | 0 comments

There was a cold solidness to Jay’s camera. A black metal density. Heavy the way he imagined a gun would be. It warmed in his hand, but it took a while. He tended to cradle it in his palm, fingers fretting on the crisp numbers engraved and inked in red and green on the barrel of the lens.

He’d seen his professor, with his ancient weathered face, similarly cradle his incalculably expensive vintage Leica rangefinder. The deep respect he had for his tools and his craft. Jay’s desire to impress his professor was one of many factors in the calculation of his anxiety.

Thus a flier on the bulletin board in the cafeteria. Two of the eight little cut-out slips with his phone number ripped off. One text message.

Fifty dollars and negotiated safety. She did a lot of modeling and was able to procure a campus drawing studio with good light. She was a sculpture student.

Up until that point, art had been conceptual. Photography was a skill. There was math, which was understandable. Light was precious and darkness dealt with by changing the aperture, the ISO, the shutter speed.

In the large square room, sunlight came in thick rectangles through the old windows. The air inside that light was haunted by dust.

She was kind, but didn’t waste time. “Where do you want me? How should I stand? Hair up or down?”

Binary questions made a simple scaffolding of ersatz confidence for Jay. She should stand on the plinth, hair up in a messy bun, some strands falling in her face, hands above her head.

“I’m shooting very cropped, very close up, so it’s just your lips and your hair and one hand,” he explained unnecessarily. She took one single moment to meet his eye before doing exactly what he described perfectly.

Would it always be like that? Was she just very skilled?

Focus, by the standards of the camera, was a somewhat vague term. From a distance, the model was in focus. Close up, lips and eyelashes needed to be manually selected, needed to be adjusted with minute analog tuning of the focal ring.

Suddenly, as he stood there, geometry and physics seemed to dull. The rather sharp dual peaks of the cupid bow of her lips became defined perfectly in the viewfinder. Soft baby hairs above her lips were picked up by the sun. The curve of her nose, the conch-like swirl of her ear, the particular turn of her eyebrows.

“Is this good?” She asked, snapping him out of hypnosis.

“Perfect,” he said, regaining his focus.

This post is part of Flash Fiction February from Storytelling Collective.

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