Welcome to June!! The year is half way over already. Jeez louise, it’s crazy how the time is flying by. So, as it is the first Monday of June we have a new flash fiction piece based on a photo. Here’s the photo:
I love this picture so much and, in fact, it reminds me of a friend of mine. I hope that all of you like the flash:
Jenna nervously entered the large gallery space and slowly scanned the crowd. The large crowd. She didn’t understand why so many people were there for a student art show. Her stomach did a flip and she breathed deep trying to calm her nerves. The stress was stupid, really, it wasn’t like her entire livelihood depended on the show. Hell, it was for a class. That was it. And yet she couldn’t convince her stomach of that.
Signing up for the class had really been a spur of the moment decision. The class she wanted to take was filled and she had to have three more credit hours to ensure she graduated in the spring. Tossing caution to the wind, she’d registered for the introduction to photography class. How hard could it be? Take some pictures, go to class, and voilà she’d be closer to graduation. She hadn’t counted on the original professor taking ill and the university bringing in a celebrated artist, Cherie Madison. Even Jenna had known who she was, and she knew nothing about art.
What she thought of as an easy grade, had become work. Hard work. She’d actually considered dropping but knew she couldn’t. She wouldn’t get her money back and she wouldn’t graduate. So, she’d stuck it out and found that she actually enjoyed it. Oh, she had no misguided thoughts that the class made her any kind of professional, but she learned that taking a picture was harder than anyone imagined.
Their final project had been a self-portrait. How easy. People took selfies all the time. Not Jenna. She hated having her picture taken. In fact, once she’d been out of elementary school, she’d refused to have any more class pictures taken. Her parents had cajoled, threatened, and begged, but Jenna had stood firm. She hated how she looked in or out of pictures and, yet, she had to take one for her final grade.
Cherie had told them the picture must be a reflection of who they really were. The image must show the truth of their soul. Jenna figured the only way she could do that is if she turned in a blurry image since she constantly dodged when a camera came out. She’d gotten extremely good at knowing where the camera was and disappearing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option for the class.
Jenna slowly made her way into gallery and eased along the wall. The first image she came too made her stomach flip and she felt as if she wanted to hurl. The picture was black and white and showed a girl artfully arranged on the floor. Her hair spread out around her and her nakedness was barely covered with a thin piece of material. Shit, this was so far away from what Jenna had done it wasn’t funny.
Okay, she told herself, no big deal. The girl in the picture imagined herself as some kind of bohemian avant-garde artist. Of course, her picture would be moody and black and white. No big deal. And, yet, the farther Jenna moved into the space the more black and white moody pictures she saw. Her classmates had used filters and photo effects that looked as though they should be in some kind of art book and not hanging in a student art exhibit.
By the time, she rounded the corner to her own work, Jenna was close to tears. Her piece was nothing at all like the others. The picture she had turned in was in color. She’d worn her favorite white sundress. The one that she didn’t dare wear out in public, since it was cut pretty low in the front. She’d found a wide brown belt to try to accent her waist and had worn knee high, lace up brown boots. Then she’d gone out to her grandparent’s farm.
There was no weird lighting or effects. Oh, hell no, she’d just set up the camera on a tri-pod and taken shots of herself around the farm. The picture she’d chosen to turn in had been one that she’d taken as a joke. She’d leaned against a fence with one arm outstretched and the other against the back of her neck. She’d thought of it as a goddess pose. Her eyes closed and face turned to the side. She imagined she looked sexy as hell, especially after a few glasses of wine.
Riding high on the feeling, she’d turned that shot in. Now, looking at it stone cold sober she wished she could shrivel up. The girl in the image wasn’t a goddess. She was an overweight girl flopped against a fence. Jenna wanted to turn and run, but her feet stayed rooted to the spot. She now understood how someone could be paralyzed with fear.
A person stepped up next to her and it took effort for her to turn her head. Cherie Madison smiled and put her arm around Jenna’s shoulders.
“I was terrified at my first show too,” the woman said.
Jenna couldn’t answer. She had nothing to say. Not even if someone paid her money could she have formed a coherent sentence.
“I love your piece.”
Jenna stared at her and turned back to the image.
“Why?” she blurted out. “It’s not . . .” she trailed away.
“Like everyone else’s?” Cherie asked. “Jenna who said the photos had to look alike? Who said they had to be arty? I know I didn’t. My request of you all was to take a picture that reflected your true self. You did that. You were the only one who did that.”
“I don’t understand,” Jenna said, finally able to come up with a coherent sentence.
“I highly doubt the images your classmates turned in reflected anything about themselves. It may show how they want to be seen. Or how they imagine they are. But not who they really are. This picture is you. It’s beautiful and fun and vibrant.”
Jenna turned back to the picture and really looked at it. She forced herself to forget how much she hated having her own picture taken. She shoved aside the constant thoughts that entered her head every time she looked at herself in the mirror. Instead, she concentrated on what had made her turn the photo in to begin with.
“Do you see?” Cherie asked.
Jenna slowly nodded her head and whispered. “I imagined myself as a goddess.”
“I can see it. You did an amazing job.”
For the first time that evening, Jenna smiled. “Yeah, I did.”