It was good she’d won the photography contest. “Best Photograph”. She deserved it. I knew she’d spent taking endless pictures, processing them, re-balancing the colors, enhancing certain details, softening other details, to tune each picture. Make it draw the viewer’s eyes where she wanted, make the viewer see what she wanted.
Of course, we hung the picture on the wall. In a huge frame. To show it off. A wall covered with other photographs from other contests, other shows, where she’d won.
“Well. What do you think, dear?”
With each photo we put on that wall, she asked the same question. And I told the same lie. “It’s perfect. I love it.”
I never told her the truth, I knew to keep that sealed inside, never let it out. It’s something I’d learned early in life. I never saw things like other people. I saw things differently. Somehow. I couldn’t get it right. The picture everyone thought was gorgeous, I found to be nothing special. The ugly picture might well hold my attention for days. The picture everyone adored the model’s smile in, I might not even see the smile, and see only the bracelet on her wrist, and the details within it. “Doesn’t she look so happy?” And all I’d see is the emptiness or the agony, in her eyes.
But, I’d learned, you know. I’d had to learn, to survive. I’d learned to say something appropriate. “Your best shot yet, I think. I love the balance of the colors, they way they play off each other. How everything is centered on the model.” I could tell if it was enough, because she’d smile at me, and hug me, “Thank you.”
She knew I was lying. I knew that. But she knew I understood how I saw things wasn’t the way the rest of the world did. She knew I made basic comments, kept it simple, so I could pretend I knew what everyone else saw, what everyone else felt when they looked at her pictures.
I wished I could tell her what I really saw.
“I know, dear. You don’t really see that. I know.” She hugged me again. “And someday, maybe you can tell me what you see. What makes my work special to you.
I tried to smile, and failed, rather miserably. “You want me to say what I see?”
“I’d love that.”
“She’s trapped, isn’t she.”
It’s tough when the person you love, the person who means the world to you, doesn’t really understand you. She came closer than anyone else ever had, or ever will. That’s why she mattered to me. That’s why I loved her so.
And still, in so many ways, I was a mystery to her. “How, my love. How is she trapped.”
“The blue. I pointed to the blue fabric flowing from the model’s waist, to the ground, spreading to cover the entire floor. “It’s pulling her back. Drawing her back to the way everything is. The way everything is supposed to be.” I took another breath. Deep one. Slow. “It’s so sad. She’s trying to find her way. Be the unique person she is. And our world. It won’t let her.”
That got me another hug. “It makes sense, you know.” She studied her picture and slowly nodded her head, “It does make sense.” She snuggled into me, pulled my arm around her. “In your own, unique view of life, it makes sense.”
I made another weak smile, “So sad. She tried to break free, only to learn the world won’t let her.”
“Do you really like it?”
“Yeah. I do. It’s so sad. And so true.”
Snuggled in, she looked at me, her blue eyes always touched everything in me I never understood. “Thank you for being honest. And not lying to me.”
“Well. I suck at lying anyway, you know.”
It’s week 126 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.