Always Beautiful
Thomas Kearnes

You're my other half, he tells her. Would you have sex with me? Ginger asks. He tells her yes, of course. Damn all the men he's been with before, Darren would absolutely make love to her. She's stripped down to threadbare pink panties and a white tank. He kneels over her on the bed, shirtless. His jeans dip below his hips. There is flesh, and there is flesh you can possess. She wraps his fur coat around herself and rocks back and forth upon the bed. She is alive and safe and a thousand clever gods watch from above. His small hairless dog yaps beside her, climbs over her. Darren, she says, you're saving my life. I don't know where else I would go. Stay just like that, he tells her, holding the camera. Ginger poses inside the coat. Its lustrous trim surrounds her. She tilts her head toward her shoulder. Her cherry red curls fall into her face. That's hot, he says. You look amazing. He takes her picture. There's a quick, dim blast of white. A frisky bass line scampers through his bedroom. Darren needs music while he tumbles down from his high. The silence—please save my life. He waits for the image to appear in the camera's display window. Am I beautiful? she asks. You're gorgeous, he says, before the image appears. Then he sees it. To his relief, he was right. She looks like a slinky pin-up girl snatched from a long-ago cigarette ad. Darren hands her the camera. You see, he tells her, I'd never lie to you.

Thomas Kearnes’ fiction has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Dogzplot, Night Train, Bound Off, Blithe House Quarterly and others.

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Detail of photo on main page courtesy of Margolove.

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