i’ve decided this isn’t as aimless as i initially thought. I rather like this part. Perhaps i’ll even continue with this.
anyway, this can be read seperately , but it also works as a continuation of part one .
Rebekka puts down the sheaf of papers she’s just finished reading from, and looks hesitantly at the teacher, who gazes absently at something appoximately ten feet beyond her left shoulder.
“yes…” he says, finally.
“Im not entirely sure where you’re going with this…. its a bit… “ he trails off.
“have you decided what happens next?” he finishes.
“no.. not really. It all sortof wrote itself, rather effortlessly. I didnt really have a certain plot in mind”
“No. That’s …. evident. What about the rest of you? Any comments?” he says to the class. A few people cough awkwardly in that way people do when they don’t really know what to say, and one girl volunteers that the bit , when the girl drops the icing on her shirt and discovers the coffee all over the floor , was pretty funny.
“But yeah.. I think it was all very nice” the girl adds in a very unconvincing way.
She’s taking an evening course in creative writing. The classes are once a week, on Thursdays. She’d seen it advertised in the paper and thought she might as well give it a shot. She’d always wanted to write a book, but never gotten farther than a few pages at the very most before the plot sortof wandered off and refused to cooperate. Several times –mostly when she was a teenager- she’d started writing stories that centered on a female lead character constantly brooding about men, or her own misery, or, (more often than not), both at the same time.
Predictably, this attempt of hers won’t fare much better than previous ones. However, she’s long since come to terms with the fact that her role in life is (in all likelihood) not to write books. There are more than enough people doing that already, with far more aptitude than she would ever manage. This doens’t bother her, really, as its not realistic to expect from oneself to excell in everything they try their hand at. She’s been told that she’s an excellent photographer -enough people have told her this that she feels inclined to believe there must be some grain of truth in it- and seeing as many go through life without excelling in anything, she feels relatively content. But it’s her nature to constantly seek out something new, something better or just something that demands from her that she push herself in some way, because she’s a hopeless perfectionist. Which is why she’s here, struggling to write a novel.
Its a nice change of pace at least. She’s been feeling restless lately, especially during the evenings.. Her children have gotten to the age where they can pretty much take care of themselves, and the absence of a male companion, which has now stretched on for a record five months, is beginning to annoy her far more than she would ever admit to anyone in so many words. A course in creative writing isn’t any worse than sitting in front of the computer all evening watching crap on youtube or reading blogs from people she doesnt know and couldnt care less about , or lying in bed with a book, thinking about sex that isn’t being had. Also, there’s something about the classes that reminds her, in a pleasant, nostalgic way, of a TV show she’d enjoyed as a child. It was called Dear John. Judd Hersch played a hapless man –John- who arrived home from work one day to find a letter from his wife -a Dear John letter- where she told him that by the time he read these lines, she’d be gone..
John signed up for an evening therapy course for divorcees. These unfortunate individuals sat around in a circle and took turns whining about ex-this and ex-that. (instead of just getting on with their dumb lives, which would have been a healthier thing to do, but would have ruined the plot of the whole series) There was a blond, sex-crazed and rather annoying man there named Kirk, that was always hitting on this red-head that was full of herself, and an elderly lady who regularly shocked the others by saying things that were decidedly un-ladylike. Rebekka could no longer remember what they actually talked about, every week, month after month, but it was an good show, in retrospect.
The creative writing course was neither as eventful nor amusing as John’s support group for lonely single people, but at least it was in the evenings, and the participants did take turns reading stuff that was in many cases very personal, which wasnt that far from whining about personal problems.
She listens half-heartedly while those who are left read what they’ve managed to squeeze out since last thursday. She wonders if she should stop by some store thats open 24 hours to get an ice-cream bar to eat on the drive home. She furthermore wonders why she’s so bad at writing more than a few pages. She’s attempting to mirror real life in her writing. But real life moves on regardless, effortlessly, (though not always pleasantly) , without the aid of some sweaty writer working overtime, pounding away on some cosmic keyboard, thinking up new plots every second. It just happens.
It had snowed during the evenings class. While she rumages for her car keys in the vast cavern that cunningly fits inside her small handbag, she tries to remember if she’d ever located the snow scraper that had disappeared without a trace the other day. Her fingers close on the keys, and promptly she drops them onto the snow dusted asphalt. She sighs, bends down to retrieve them and feels a familiar twinge of pain in her lower back. This lower back pain is a perpetual annoyance, and makes her feel too old for her liking. The fact that it stems from a weight lifting injury , and not old age, is partly reassuring. The fact that it seems to be with her to stay, is not.
At least the car door opens. She was nearly certain that the lock would stick, as it usually does in cold weather, and she’d be reduced to bending over next to the door and blowing warm air into the damn thing, like some weird car pervert.
She sees right away that the snow scraper isnt in its place inside the driver-side door. And not on the passenger side either. She pats the floor under both front seats and throws a cursory glance into the back (why the hell would it be there?) The snow scraper is just as lost as it was the last time she checked. She opens the glove compartment and grabs the only cd cover to be found in the car. It houses the first and only cd from a band called Elexir, in which her ex-boyfriend- well, one of many- played drums. It’s a pretty bad cd. Two of the songs are surprisingly pretty good, but the sound quality -and the other 5 songs- are horrible.
The cover serves a purpose now at least. After removing the light layer of snow from the windows of the car, she gets in and slams the door, and marvels at the fact that in just that short amount of time, her fingers managed to turn white and corpse like. She’s always had very bad blood circulation in her hands and feet.. She wonders if she should start taking an iron supplement as she starts the car and manuevers it carefully from between two others that weren’t there when she arrived. Incidentally, they’re the only other cars in the whole parking lot. Go figure.
While driving home she considers all the different ways in which a white sheet can be used as a prop in a photo. This comes as a rather unexpected and random thing to be thinking about, but it strikes her as a rather interesting idea nonetheless. Right off the bat, several possibilities present themselves. A woman wrapped in a sheet. A woman wearing a sheet like a turban. A person hanging a sheet up to dry. A person ironing a sheet. A handball player preparing to hurl a tightly balled up sheet at some invisible goal. A kid using a sheet for a hammock. A man pulling a sheet he’s hooked on his fishing rod out of a lake. A sheet used as a net in a game of beach volleyball. A sheet tightly wound up like a rope and draped in some clever way around the nude body of a lithe model. The variations were seemingly endless. She decides to create a series of such photos.
First she just needs to find a sheet.
Then, she has to find people willing to pose with the sheet.
Maybe this is a completely stupid idea. However, it might also add to her reputation, (in a positive way even) as an eccentric yet clever photographer, to go ahead with a stupid idea like this. Besides, she can see all of the images clearly in her head, printed out large and framed , hanging in a gallery somewhere. That must mean it’s actually a good idea.
After she’s gotten the kids off to school the next morning she goes back to sleep for a bit. This is one of the luxuries that come with being your own employer. Not that she’s lazy or anything. Three days a week she gets up early and runs 5-8 kilometers on an empty stomach, setting a personal record in either distance or average running speed each session. This is very important to her.
The other mornings she rewards herself by snoozing a bit longer.
She wakes up to the phone ringing at 17 minutes past ten..
“hello?” she says, in a hesitant, faintly questioning tone of voice. She’s never managed to come up with a cool way of answering the phone. She always sounds like a rather dumb teenager to her own ears. Of course, the sound of your voice in your own ears isnt really right.; as anyone knows who’s ever heard a recording of their voice , its actually even worse in real life.
But back to the phonecall. Its a woman. She introduces herself as Marilynn, and has a question. Could she, Rebekka , take on a commission to do a creative and artistic family photoshoot.
“Yes.. its a couple in their thirties, their two year old daughter, two chi-hua-huas, and one opera girl from Vietnam”
Opera girl? She thinks to herself. What an odd thing to say. Aside from that , it sounds like a particularly awful collection of models. Probably no chance of getting them all to look right in the same photo… she’d probably need to do some splicing in photoshop..
She silently sighs and says reassuringly “sure, i can do it, sounds like a fun project. When did you have in mind? Will i be shooting them at their home?”
Marilynn continues to explain and the whole thing just sounds worse and worse. The photoshoot would take place somewhere outside town, (with a wide angle natural icelandic backdrop, like in your selfportraits! Marilynn gushes), with assistants carrying warm blankets so the subjects wont get cold (the little girl especially! No we wouldnt want that, Rebekka agrees, and groans inwardly) and you’ll have complete artistic freedom to arrange the subjects as you feel best. In some interesting way, Marilynn adds.
The conversation ends with her having agreed, contrary to her better judgement, to meet Marilynn and the family in question at their home the next evening to organize the shoot.
She only realizes when she’s in the shower half an hour later that the Vietnamese opera girl must be an Au-pair..