Sunday, August 18, 2013

POPULAR (chapter eleven: the portrait)

Chapter Eleven
The portrait
   After school that afternoon, Ethan spoke to me.
  “You are so na├»ve, Honey. If you haven’t worked it out, he was arranging to meet up with his old friends to get wasted. Maybe you need an intervention.”
   “He was not,” I said. “Flynn is very… conscientious. He’s been extremely helpful with our art project. We’re just about to Skype.”
   “He’s a loser.”
   “Flynn is not a loser.”
   “Then he’s a wastrel and you shouldn’t hang out with him so much.”
   “He is not a wastrel. That just wouldn’t be cool. And Flynn is… cool. You’re just jealous.”
    Ethan shrugged, “Whatever, don’t say I didn’t warn you. I think it’s interesting that you are so mean about other girls yet so willing to give Flynn the benefit of the doubt.”
    Was Ethan right? At least I wasn’t mean to other girls.
    Next art class, Hilary was sitting beside me on the hill, looking profoundly bored. Art just isn’t her thing. Flynn had strolled back, busily texting from behind the tree, as we were trying to work out how to work the school’s new camera.
   “Hey pretties, give it to me, I’m an expert in all things mechanical.”
   A man who knows how to use his hands to fix things is a real find, even if it’s sexist to assume we couldn’t work it out ourselves. Fixing stuff is hot. I mean, as girls we should certainly know how to use something as basic as a camera but with ‘new’ technology, sometimes it’s okay to let guys think they have the upper hand.
   I had to practically step on Hilly’s toe when she was about to say, “Oh it’s fine, we’ve got it sorted.”
   Hilary looked at me quizzically before she nodded slowly, mouthed the word “Oh,” and guided by me, smiled back whispering, “gotcha.”
   Ethan looked over at me.
   “So, which one of you two babes is going to be my first model?”
   I stepped right back.
   “Oh,” I said, “I rarely model – unless it’s for magazines or my own dating blog – but Hilary would be great.”
   I nudged my friend forward. She could thank me later.
   “Cool, okay so, I’ll play photographer then…”
   During this process, Flynn even went over and adjusted Hilary’s hair, the light, the angle she was sitting, everything. He snapped away like a professional while I giggled on the sidelines. In between snaps he said things like, “great, looking hot” and “Wow, Miranda… whoa Giselle! Yeah baby!”
    It was kind of funny. If I didn’t know any better, and from the looks of Flynn’s bloodshot eyes I’d say he’d been smoking something, but I didn’t really know any better so I’m not going to call Flynn out on something he may not have done.
    When the photos were taken, we had to choose one that was representative of ‘the group’.
    I’d found some old Edwardian costumes form the school’s production of The Importance of Being Ernest and draped them and the props around Hilary with a large hat. It looked like a mix of the very modern and the very new and since our photo typified ‘vintage teen drama’ I was pretty pleased with the result. We had to tell a story via six portraits. Flynn and I chose six of the best with Hilly as a model.  
   Hilary was taking the costumes back to class and Flynn and I were trying to pick the photos we’d use in the final presentation. Flynn was really looking at the digital images closely. I could tell he was thinking about Hilary’s beauty – which some maintain I have exaggerated, but really, I don’t think so.
   “I like that one,” Flynn said, “she looks good in that.”
   I agreed. Flynn could barely contain his enthusiasm.
   “Oh, but you see – there’s our shadow in the background on the wall. You can even make us out behind the camera.”
   “Hey babe, that’s why I like it.”
    I’m not sure why he started to call me ‘babe’ that day, it was kind of against everything we’d learned in English class.  
    “Well, this one has a clearer image of Hilary’s pretty face…”
   “Oh, right,” Flynn agreed, “sure, whatever.”
    “Great,” I smiled, “so we should go with these?”
    Flynn smiled and nodded.
    He moved closer to me to get the full effect of the image without the harsh glare of the sun. He seemed transfixed by the photo.
    “Yep,” he said, “gotta agree with you. I like this one. Put it first. You have great taste Honey.”
     I knew it. He couldn’t take his eyes off the picture. Flynn liked Hilary, it was so obvious. And what happened next just proved it.
    “By the way, my uncle owns the mall – I’m going to make a copy of this photograph and get it professionally framed at the camera store there.”
    “Great, that’ll be fantastic.”
    “Sure, it should be ready by Friday – welcome to an easy A.”
    “Well, um, Hilary and I are going shopping for prom dresses so, we could come with you – make an afternoon of it?”
    Sometimes, you have to physically play matchmaker for a match to work.
    “Sure, we could ditch school if you like, it’s only study hall.”
    Now, I wouldn’t normally agree to this but sometimes socializing is more important than school.  

    “Wicked,” I said, pulling back from Flynn’s enthusiasm. It was so obvious now, the picture of Hilary meant more to him than any normal photograph – Hilary was the woman he’d set his sights on, the girl (forgive me for the Cinderella euphemism) he’d take to the ball.