Fashion

Beyond the Shallows

“Fashion is bullshit”, she would say with her accent and rasp, like the gentle wheeze of the steam heat.

Teo J. Babini - teo@citizenbrooklyn.com Photos by Maurizio Bacci
Photo © Maurizio Bacci

Photo © Maurizio Bacci

I used to love August. Something about sweat, it just makes everything sexier. The musical hums of an old fan clicking away as the beads drip from top to toes. It’s good, both in company and without. Lazing about a tarnished mattress listening to some drowned out record while you smoke a slow cigarette.

Recently, it has been different. The air is unusually crisp with skies of cold blue. August has become nothing more than the end of the beloved summer. The long drawn out end, like a motionless death. It’s a mild case of doldrums, which force one into a state of introspection… And for people with my disposition, introspection is never a good idea.

Photo © Maurizio Bacci

Photo © Maurizio Bacci

So there I was, in another August mania, working like a dog in between bouts of alcoholic insomnia and somber documentary watching. On this particular day, I was what they like to call a photo assistant, but it would be more accurate to say dartboard. In other words, you are an airtight container for the shower of abuse that befalls you at any given moment. But it pays well, and there is no shortage of interesting characters, not to mention a free lunch.

Now, having done this kind of work on and off for several years, I find myself less and less interested in these unfriendly human clothes hangers. It’s not that they’re not beautiful, they are, but they just feel empty. They are as fake in real life as they look in the magazines covered in paint and hairspray, not to mention digital fingerprints. But on this day something changed…

Photo © Maurizio Bacci

Photo © Maurizio Bacci

She walked in the room and nobody could see her but me. Yes, the photographer took her little picture with his little camera, but it was me she posed for, the light shining in through the contours and curves. Flashing a little flesh here and there as if to remind me that I was a human in need of warmth, in need of contact and affection.

You could tell she did it for the money. “Fashion is bullshit”, she would say with her accent and rasp, like the gentle wheeze of the steam heat. She smiled too much, and that would hurt her career. But today she smiled for me, I was the object of her gaze while she was the object of everyone else’s, only they saw through her. She was a ghost to them, a non-being. I was the reason she covered her face with her hands, hiding her heart behind them.

Photo © Maurizio Bacci

Photo © Maurizio Bacci

I waited for her outside, and when she came down I could tell she was expecting it. Her hair was free again, and her lips laughed molasses. She was the daughter of the sun and for her he would shine, coloring in the empty flowerbeds. We spoke little, but laughed all the same.

We didn’t walk so much as wander, for there is a lack of urgency when the destination is decided and the path is clear. Upon arrival, I discovered the nest of a fragile bird. Walls too close together to contain the creative wingspan, floor full of charcoal sketches of a world heard and not spoken.

Photo © Maurizio Bacci

Photo © Maurizio Bacci

I won’t get into the details of our moonlit dance, but I will say that it was the last time I saw her. Just as quietly as she’d arrived, she receded into the shadows of my worn memories. It was supposed to be that great summer romance, and maybe it was… Nothing is permanent, in fact, except for the sounds of her breath ringing in my ears. And the return of sultry August.

Photo © Maurizio Bacci

Photo © Maurizio Bacci

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