It’s Fiction Friday, and the theme for March is renewal and luck. The Friday Fiction Femmes Fatales all write different fictional stories based on the same prompt. This is episode ten in my series. If you missed the first nine episodes, the links are below. And please visit the other blogs to see what they wrote (links below).
“Have you ever done anything like this before?” The photographer asked Amanda.
“No, never. I can’t even believe I’m here.” She replied hesitantly.
“Because…it’s so not like me…here I am in my bra and panties talking to you, a total stranger.” She laughed and tried not to seem as nervous as she really was. “But a friend did this and told me about it. When I saw the Groupon, I couldn’t resist.”
“Just relax. I will help you through it.” He reassured her, sizing her up looking for her best assets and thinking creatively how to show them off.
She started to sweat nervously. Almost naked in front of this total stranger, Amanda felt exposed literally and figuratively. She thought she must look bad and felt embarrassed being in a studio taking bedroom pictures for her husband Richard. But after everything they had been through, she was trying to do something special for him and to reignite the spark of their love life. She missed the days when their relationship was full of passion. She felt that he was distant and maybe even thinking about someone else. She wanted him to look at her like she was sexy like he used to. She hadn’t worn lingerie in a long time. Richard bought her many pretty sets, and she used to wear them on special nights, but they didn’t stay on very long. The years passed by, and her body and soul had gone through many changes, but there she was with her hair done, makeup on, and dressed in sexy outfits. It had been so long since she’d gotten all dolled up like that.
“Ok, sit on the bed and cross your legs. Put your right arm on the bed and look at me. Lower your chin.” He instructed. “Imagine your man is standing over there. Or better yet, who is your favorite male celebrity?” He asked.
She giggled and answered, “Brad Pitt.”
“Imagine Brad Pitt is standing at the end of the bed. Turn your head towards him and give him a ‘come and get me’ look.”
She looked at the empty space at the end of the bed, trying to pretend it was Brad Pitt. She imagined his long, flowing blonde hair and strong lean muscles in the movie Troy. Making an awkward smile, she tried to look sexy but burst out in laughter. “I can’t do this. Do you make porn in here on the weekend?” she implored.
That made the photographer laugh. “Porn? Why would you say that?” he said like he had never heard a question like that before.
“Well, because you know, the bed, lights, a camera, it seems like a good set for a porn movie. Not like I would know or anything,” she followed up.
“No, we don’t do porn in here on the weekend,” he answered. And then he snapped some candid pictures capturing her genuine smiles and laughter. “Let’s try this again. This time lie down. Put your legs up and point your toes. Bend your elbows and pull your hair up and then look at me.”
She obliged, rolling on her back and pointing her toes. She pulled up her hair and looked into the camera.
“Arch your back a little,” he continued. “Very nice,” he said as he took a few more pictures. “So how many kids do you have?” he asked her innocently.
“Uh, five. I mean three. Well, I had five, but…now I have three.” The mood got serious all of a sudden. “I don’t really want to talk about it ok?” She knew if she went into detail she would get really upset, and she didn’t want that to set the tone of the photo shoot. She was trying to accept the past and move on.
“Wow, five kids. Ok sure, no problem. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude.”
“It’s ok. It’s a long story. But yes, I had five kids, and I also have a granddaughter. My oldest son and his girlfriend…it’s another long story.”
“Wow, a grandchild. That’s wonderful, and you look amazing. Now turn over on your stomach and lose the bra top. Lean on your elbows and look at me.”
She couldn’t help but think of her babies. All five of them. All five beautiful creatures her body produced. She had stretch marks on her breasts and belly from her pregnancies. A bit uncomfortable, she made sure to cross her arms as she propped herself up, crossed her ankles and looked up at the camera with a serious face this time. Her crossed arms accentuated her cleavage. This time she didn’t smile. If he only knew the whole story. God, I miss Anderson and Ella.
She continued changing poses and outfits. As the hour went by, Amanda felt a little more comfortable. With each question from the photographer, she sank a little deeper into her personal world. He asked where she was from and what she did for a living. As she answered, he snapped pictures. She didn’t really want to talk about any of it because it made her upset and she was trying to turn over a new leaf. The raw emotions came through in her pictures.
When she sat down to look at the proofs and pick the ones she wanted, it was like a whole new beginning. She didn’t like seeing her stretch marks and the cellulite on her belly and thighs. She wished her face wasn’t so bumpy, and she wished her hair looked better. “Look at me. Yuck. I hate how fat I am,” she complained about the first couple of proofs they viewed, “my stretch marks look awful.”
He encouraged her to look for the positive in her pictures, and it started working. “Amanda, why don’t you feel beautiful? Look at you, a grandmother who had five kids of her own. That’s something to take pride in. I’m sure your husband thinks you are beautiful. Look at this picture, it’s like fine art,” He maximized one of the pictures and put a soft filter on it, “now what is wrong with this one?”
“Well, I don’t know…” she looked for something negative to say, but this time he was right. The angles were just right to accent her best features. And she had a soft expression on her face. It was very candid, not forced.
“It’s all in your attitude. You can choose your attitude every day. You can choose positivity or negativity; it’s up to you. That’s what this business is about – helping women like you feel good about themselves and to do something nice for themselves. Most women are so busy taking care of families and households that they stop taking care of themselves. I meet so many women who come here for a boost because they are aging and feel they have let themselves go. These pictures are not only for your husband; they are for you. When you feel bad about yourself, you can go through them and remember that you are perfect just the way you are. Be kind to yourself. Love your body and yourself, wrinkles, stretch marks and all. Wear them like a badge of honor and be proud of your accomplishments. Don’t be afraid of aging because it’s a privilege many people never get to experience.”
“Wow, I came here for pictures, but I didn’t think of it like that.” This is a photo shoot, but it’s also like therapy. My counselor tells me the same thing-to choose my attitude and to choose how I react to the terrible things that have happened in the past. I don’t have to be a victim of all the sadness and loss that I’ve experienced. I actually do have the power to choose my mindset, and every day is a new day, a chance to start again. “Thank you for that reminder. You are right.”
She selected her favorites and felt proud as she left the studio that day. She couldn’t wait to give them to Richard. Her experience reminded her of a couple of songs by her favorite singer, Jewel, so she put her iPhone playlist on repeat and sang along as she drove home. “It’s going to be a good day. Just wait and see. From now on, I’m going to be the kind of woman I’d want my daughter to be. I’m going to love myself more than anyone else, believe in me even if someone can’t see the stronger woman in me.”
Here is the prompt: Our metaphorical spring is coming ever closer although things / conditions are still mostly dormant. The theme this week is: Recovery. The “ice” has thawed a bit, revealing your character’s recovery of a memory; or s/he has recovered (this is not sought, it just appears, like a plant poking through the hard, cold earth) something that was once lost; or experiences an old habit in a new way? Better? Good? You decide. Oh: mostly dialogue. In honor of International Women’s Day, it’s optional to make it about recovery of femininity.
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Thank you for reading this entry. Peace out!
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