He was smiling as if he saw the most beautiful creation. I couldn’t help grinning myself; his happiness is contagious. He asked me to pose for him again. “Could you turn your face just a little bit? There!” “The light across your cheeks is just perfect, great angle.” I did. The camera gave a sound similar to a mechanical giggle.
I feel light-headed; his attention is addictive. No one had ever paid this much attention to me because in a world where almost every teenager saw the protagonist when they looked into the mirror every morning, I don’t expect scrutiny. I don’t act for attention, so no one provides me with it. I’m not the daft hero swinging a gleaming sword under a thousand suns. Not the princess who saved herself. Not important enough a character to have a decent family name in the book.
Somehow, he saw something special in me. Special enough to lift his camera and tell me to “look here.” He was like a young fan fiction writer who chose to write a lengthy character review on a minor character for fun. And as a minor character who wondered when would my own story ever started, I felt damn special.
Still, he only ever looked at me through his camera. I didn’t know the actual color of his eyes, was it coffee black or warm cocoa? He never smiled at me directly; he smiled as he looked into the pictures on the rectangle screen of the optical instrument in his hands. He told me about a girl of whom he did not need to take pictures. A girl whose eyes he had burned into his memory and whose skin he touched. He told me, unaware of the lightning-like cracks running across my heart. I am sure that a picture of these cracks will be awarded; “nature lives inside pain” or “pain is in the nature of humans ” might work as a caption.
He was actually the concept artist, the illustrator of a book series. He loved beautiful details, drowning himself in aesthetics. The illustrator doesn’t need to comprehend a character, major or minor, to capture their appearance on pages. The illustrator finds the angle, the best features, the eyes, the side-face.
I learned that there are people who would love you, but only under a certain light. They entertain the idea of loving you and draw lines of expectation on your skin, your hair, and your eyelashes. They don’t bother reading the book. They never try hard enough, never make an effort to establish something concrete with you. They like beauty, that’s all. At a certain angle, you are beautiful.
And that’s all there will ever be.