By Paula McGrath.
I have not gone near his shed since that first time. He’ll be in when he’s in. In the cottage, he has arranged rolled newspapers neatly in the hearth, and twigs. All I have to do is strike a match. It roars into flame. I make a wigwam of turf around it, then I pour vodka into a tumbler and sip at it while I wait. When he comes in I pour another and hand it to him. He knocks it back and returns the plastic tumbler to the table with a down-to-business bump.
–Are you ready?
He gets busy now, plugging in a radiator, clicking on a Superser I haven’t seen before. I’m warmed by the vodka and pleased at his thoughtfulness. Rachel and Claire never see this side of Aids, Aidan, I correct. He’s setting up lights, transforming the cottage into a movie set. I take off my clothes.
–Here. He pats a sort of plinth, sort of pedestal, on which he has placed a squarely folded blanket. I climb on and perch in the spotlight, legs crossed, tits out. Preen a bit. Artist’s model, me. After a while I’m bored. After another while, I’m bored and slumped. Still he’s click-clicking. Is that not cheating anyway? I imagined intense sketching and brush stroking. And something velour, artfully draped… With photos, you’re neither here nor there. I wonder, as he points his lens, if I’m being objectified. I get myself into a subject-object muddle. I remember that I can still speak.
–How much longer?
He looks surprised to see me, he was so involved in his crouching and clicking (objectified!).
–You’re doing great. I’m mollified. I wonder what it would be like to be the one with the camera, him on the plinth. Mmm, nice. Now who’s objectifying whom? Finally, he puts the camera down and stands and stretches. He takes a blanket off the bed and places it around my shoulders. He kisses me on the top of my head and murmurs thanks into my hair. Then he turns the Superser off and plugs out the heater. He stoops to turn off the spots and he’s caught for a moment in an up-light. For the first time I see how wrecked he looks. He’s a few years older than me anyway, but he looks about forty. From taking a few photographs. Feckssake. He catches my expression, and for a moment he looks as if he would like to explain it all to me, explain something to me…
–You were perfect, he says finally.
I don’t know what to say to Aidan’s tenderness. He comes and strokes my cheek, lets his finger trail to the blanket’s opening. Then he frowns and looks at his watch.
–A quick one in the Roundwood Inn?
Still in the wasteland of my twenties, I’m happy to put pints first. He fills a mug with vodka and knocks back most of it, handing me what’s left to finish.
[This is a short extract, the full article is available to read in Issue Three]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paula McGrath‘s first novel, Generation, will be published by John Murray originals in July 2015. Her fiction has appeared in Surge (Brandon 2014), Eclectica, Mslexia, Necessary Fiction, and others. She holds an MFA and an MA from UCD, and a BA in english from Trinity. She lives in Dublin near the sea.