What You See
I sigh. I can’t afford to lose my patience but, jeez, it has taken an hour to get him to take his shirt off and stop scowling at my camera. At this rate we’ll be here all day.
“Go on,” I hope the encouraging tone in my voice still sounds convincing. “Just open the top button and try to look naughty.” I wink and am happy to see him wink back at me.
Honestly, I don’t like him all that much. But I promised I would help him on several occasions and today he appears to be ready. And there’s no denying he needs help. His self image is so negative I sometimes wonder how he manages to live with himself. He gets compliments all the time, other members of the gym we go to never stopped telling him how fabulous he looks, and he always gets propositioned when we go out. But none of it means anything to him; it is as if it goes right over his head. He doesn’t see what others do or, if he does see it, doesn’t believe it is really him. My mission is to get him naked, take the pictures and make him look at them. Maybe, if he looks at himself from a distance, he’ll be able to see himself more objectively.
“Now, open the rest of your fly.” I put as much authority in my voice as I can muster, hoping to forestall any objections he might have. He stares at me, his gaze fixed on mine, his eyes unblinking, before opening the buttons.
I study the body he has never fully shown to anybody. It’s almost impossible to believe nobody ever followed that long treasure-trail all the way down his sculpted body to find the as yet hidden prize.
I focus on taking my pictures, suddenly careful not to look at him too closely. It would be so easy to scare him off now. Instead I mutter encouragements. “See, that wasn’t too hard.” And, “I told you, you could do it.”
He doesn’t say a word and yet it is as if I can hear him grumbling. He might as well be speaking out loud.
The last step in the process; this is do or die. Either he will reveal all of himself or all my efforts will have been for nothing. “Take your jeans off, please”. I almost whisper the words, afraid to spook him.
For long moments he does nothing, just stands there with a look on his face as if he isn’t sure whether or not I’m serious. The impasse last so long my arms grow heavy and I put the camera aside. But I don’t break eye contact. I’m not giving up. Not yet.
Without taking his gaze of me he pushes his trousers down and discards them. Defiance shines out of his eyes while he waits for my next move.
I reach for my camera again, lift it, and pause before taking the final pictures for this session.
Our relationship is a strange one, but I live in hope that one day we’ll be true friends—me and the man in the mirror.
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