Word Count: 712
Notes: Freewritten as a response to this photograph, which was uploaded by this Flickr user.
Cathy has a thing for obvious beauty. Her room, though tasteful and inarguably her, is decked in photographs of or representations of aesthetic masterpieces - naturally occurring, human and human in origin. Her garden is dominated by flowers - bright flowers; pretty flowers. It's overbearing. Cathy's not the sort of girl - woman? - who appreciates the subtle beauty of simple leafy plants or ivy, and sometimes my eyes complain if they're made to admire the flowerbeds at the foot of her garden for too long.
Of course, I ignore them. It's Cathy. She won't be satisfied until I pretend to be thoroughly appreciative of her efforts. I smile.
She takes this as an indirect comment on her own beauty. It's possible that it is. Even if I pretend not to be, I am always taken aback by her. Traditionally speaking, she's no Helen of Troy, but she has an outstanding ethereal quality to her which cannot be ignored. Freckles rest on her face like snow that won't quite lay; not supposed to be there, but awfully nice to look at all the same. Perhaps her hair is too hot for snow. It falls down past her shoulders in red waves, floaty and uncontrollable and honest. She pretends to dislike it, but she's just as taken with it as I am; as we all are.
"Shall I take a picture?"
"Is there space for it on your wall?"
It goes without saying that she intends to immortalise this summer's crop as part of her wall display; maybe it's silly of me to ask, because if Cathy wants there to be room for another photograph, then there can be. She's a passionate woman, declaring that each latest addition to her wall is more inspiring than the last, but they fall like leaves as the seasons change and she becomes enamoured with something new.
Some photographs are evergreen. Part of the reason I've stayed by her side for so long is because one of them is of us - it was taken at a festival of some sort, so far as my memory serves. The sun wasn't shining and the bands were all awful, but we loved it all the same; reason being, I loved her, and she loved being loved. This picture of us doesn't say a thousand words - it only needs three. Kiss, smile, love. Cathy has helpfully cut these words from two magazines and a newspaper and stuck them nearby. It's a good thing only me and her close friends are allowed into the sanctuary - I'd feel somewhat vulnerable otherwise, with my heart spelled out in those thirteen damning letters.
Thirteen. Is it unlucky? I can't tell.
"Of course there's space. Smile."
"What... with me in it?"
Under the scruntiny of her camera lens, I flush. Cathy has a thing for obvious beauty, and I am neither obvious nor beautiful. To allow her to capture me like this for analysis later would expose me. If that happens... no, it can't happen.
"Of course with you in it, silly."
She doesn't understand; I can see she doesn't understand. She's a vain old thing, Cathy; has reason to be, I suppose. I adore her - she knows I do. She's allowed to be vain in my presence. It means she can't possibly comprehend how I feel, at least until she's developed the film - does it herself, of course, because this is Cathy, and every picture she takes has to remain hers every step of the way. I can see her now, developing the film in the dark and holding me up to the red light, squinting; finally realising my inadequacy. She can't have it; I need to carry on decieving her, because she is all I have.
I have a horrible habit of forgetting what I want to say when she says my name like that.
"Sarah, I think you're wonderful."
It isn't that I've forgotten what to say this time.
"Let's be in the picture together."
I don't care about the picture. I vaguely register the lens snapping shut, preferring to take in the beautiful paleness of her extended arm; the odd bend in it, and the flutter of her eyelashes against my cheek.
She lowers the camera gently as I kiss her. She doesn't want to damage the film.