(A Guy Bourdain fashion photo. Image source: http://fashionprettyrabbit.blogspot.com/)
She was a natural at the supermodel hunch. Years ago, when a depressed, aging ramp queen had showed it to her, she had copied it perfectly. She knew she was perfect even now, as Raphael smiled and clicked away. The makeup had always been thick, but perhaps never enough to mask the emptiness of her spirit. Her hunch half enveloped that ever widening hole in her soul.
"Look into the camera," Raphael roused. He distracted her. She was comfortable in her skin, but she didn't like the way he undressed her - she felt vulnerable. She moved her arms above her head and delicately stepped back, staring directly into the lens. That circled darkness spoke to her, she identified with its soul-less eyes. She gently moved her fingers to her lips for her next pose and felt the cracks appear in her facade. She tried to look deeper into the lens, hoping her eyes would meet with his.
"Wonderful," Raphael said, and continued to click, oblivious of her pain and longing. He was unseeing now, as he had been through the five years of their professional relationship. His perfunctory greeting of "Hello Jasmine" stayed unchanged. It seemed cold, even cruel to her - a calculated distance designed to singe her with indifference.
Every night she'd retire to her boudoir, where portraits he had shot lined her walls. She loved his intensity, his affair with the camera. Oh! How she longed to be held the same way. She wanted to be moulded into any shape of his desire, his longing. She wanted him to lustfully forge her into any shape. Just as long as he held her. She wanted to be desired. Her mascara trickled down her cheeks in despair, she lifted her hand to wipe it away. Just then the doorbell rang.
She ran up to the door in hope, and opened it to nothingness. Raphael was her neighbour too, and she always hoped he would drop in, if only to ask whether the mailman had come by. But he never did. He hadn't come now either. But there was an enormous envelope at her feet, with her name on it, in Raphael's familiar hand.
Nonchalantly, she tossed the envelope on to the dining table and retired back to her bedroom. Why couldn't he see her hope, her longing, she wondered. "Jasmine, pretty pretty Jasmine; you need to come out of your shell, show the world your beauty!", Raphael's words echoed in her head from their conversation earlier today. Tomorrow, she thought, she'd tell him everything. She'd be beautiful to him, for him.
She couldn't sleep that night in eager anticipation. Visions of Raphael undoing layers of her clothes and her soul swam in her head. She tossed and turned a hundred times over wondering how best she could reveal herself to him. She mentally picked her favourite Versace LBD to wear tomorrow. But her mind would not ease. Restless, she walked to the dining table and opened the envelope. She thought it would be the usual proofs of the fashion shots taken by Raphael earlier in the day. But it wasn't. With the thick sheaf tumbled out pictures of her glorious nakedness; tumbled out years of voyeurism, admiration and worship through the lens of the man she had always desired. And there was a note too.
Her fingers trembled. Did she really want to read the note? Was she ready for him to confess her feelings for her? Her head spun with all the questions. She wasn't sure. He had been her escape for many years now, she watched him closely. But not as closely as he watched her, she thought. She felt violated, but she liked the feeling. She knew he loved her now; she could feel it. Slowly she open the note and read it. Her body froze, her lips quivered, she let the note drop to her feet.
She wondered what he would have said about the suit. She thought the colour didn't suit him at all. The suit looked a little oversized too. She wondered which of his family members had chosen that suit and given it to the undertaker. But his face was handsome as ever...
She was roused out of her reverie by the priest's solemn voice. She was roused to the truth that Raphael now lay quietly in a satin-lined box, his bruised blue neck hidden under a stiffly starched collar. He had chosen to confess, and he had chosen to go. Confessions she would never forget. Her mind replayed the happenings of last night for the zillionth time. She remembered being frozen, she remembered running to his door, she remembered howling, she remembered white hot pain searing her heart, she remembered calling 911 and she remembered reading and rereading the letter, till every word had inked itself upon her soul.
Five o clock the next morning, when the last of the bar's customers were leaving, they noticed that famous supermodel bundled on the floor in her black designer dress, a glass of whiskey spilled nearby, and shook their heads. What they did not see was a crumpled note in her hand that read,
"Dear Jasmine," the note had simply begun. "I only wish to repeat what I have always said - you need to come out of your shell, show the world your beauty. I've lived in my shell for long, with only your beauty for company. I stayed and watched from a distance for fear of contaminating your divinity. I lived in the wretched pain of loneliness, loving and longing, because you were always so achingly delicate. I was afraid I would break you. But your imploring eyes impaled my soul today. I cannot stay away now, but I cannot come close either, so I choose the easy way out.