Check, please.

“I knew it was your month to pay the bills, so I made sure to use a lot of hot water.” I watched as he used the towel to dry between his legs and his torso, admiring his cleanly shaven male parts when the towel flicked up just high enough. “And your hair looks fine, Miss Over-Dramatic.” I bit my lip as I looked up and down at the bare and glistening body in front of me. “Been working out?”

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5. chapter 5

After two days of studying my own work, I still couldn’t figure out what the hell Mr. Wentz was talking about. “You look emotional in this picture. There is emotion all over this picture!” I shouted, slapping an old picture of Harry onto the island. He leaned forward off of the counter and looked at the black and while still of him on his knees in some black Calvin Kleins. The shot was from about 2011 when his hair was still long and extremely curly. He leaned back against the sink and took a large gulp of water from his wine bottle.

“Did you submit that picture?”

I hesitated. “I don’t… I don’t think so…”

Harry sighed. “Maybe you just submitted the wrong pictures, you know? I thought I would be able to help you with all of this but I’m just not a photographer… I don’t see anything wrong with your pictures at all.”

I slunk to the floor and leaned my head back against the refrigerator. “I know.” I stared at the pictures spread around me on the floor, occasionally moving one or picking one up. I was completely discouraged, discouragingly confused, and confusedly agitated.

“Here, stand up and take a picture of me.” Harry grabbed my arm and pulled me upward after a few moments. I groaned, irritated that he didn’t suggest that before I sat down. I grabbed my camera off of the island and turned it on.

“Take a picture of just you? I have a million of those.”

“Me and the bottle,” Harry said, leaning back against the sink and shifting so that the bottle was more visible in his hand. I snapped a quick shot and looked at it on the screen of my camera.

“Feeling posy?” I asked, confused about what Harry was making me do.

He shook his head and turned his back to me to face the sink.

“Now take another one.” He raised the bottle up and began to pour the water from the bottle. I snapped the shot and looked at it as it flashed onto the screen.

“What are we doing?”

Harry put the bottle down and walked around the island to see the pictures too. “Look,” he said, flipping back to the first shot. “This is just me holding a bottle of wine.”

“It’s water-“

“But the audience doesn’t know that. It just looks like a guy holding a wine bottle. Nothing else. But this-“ He flipped to the second picture. His back muscles were flexed and his hair looked a mess as he poured the liquid down the drain. “This tells a story. There is emotion. Why is he pouring the wine down the drain? Is he an alcoholic?”

I frowned at Harry. “Harry, I’m a fashion photographer. I’m not taking pictures for an anti-wine campaign anytime soon.”

I turned to walk to my room but Harry grabbed me by my shoulders. His green eyes glowed with excitement. “But maybe that’s what Wentz is looking for. He wants to see the human side of you. He probably gets hundreds of people every day fighting for this job and he sees the same thing all the time. Show him something different. Show him Scotlan.”

My ears rang with Harry’s words as my mind dove into another memory. “Show me Scotlan. Show me the real you.”

“Mr. Howard,” Anna chimed in from the desk beside me. “I’ve been Scotlan’s friend for three years now and I haven’t even seen the real her. This project is going to cause her to fail. No offense, Scotty.”

I nodded in agreement with her. My photography teacher sighed and looked down at me. I was tired of trying to argue about this with him in front of the whole class. Mr. Howard’s thick, black mustache twitched and finally he leaned down onto the desk, his hairy arms crossing over one another as he looked me in the face. “Scotlan, it’s just 5 pictures. 5 pictures that aren’t just pictures, but pictures that tell YOUR story. You can’t do that?”

I shook my head.

“She’s literally emotionless,” Anna said. I raised my eyebrow at my friend. That wasn’t entirely true, although I generally kept my feelings and thoughts to myself.

“Well you’ve had an emotional last couple of months. You can’t think of anything to photograph from that time?”

I tensed in my seat. My cheeks felt hot. I knew the teachers knew about my mother but no one had mentioned it to me, especially not in the middle of a crowded classroom. I gritted my teeth and stared at my desk.

Mr. Howard sighed again and stood up. He tapped my desk as he thought. “Then just give me one, Scotlan. One picture that tells me about you. But don’t give me some half-ass bullshit picture with a teddy-bear next to your bed or something. This is your final grade before you graduate AND I’ve made it easy for you. This picture better be worth a million dollars.”

“Scotlan, are you okay?” Harry interrupted my memory.

I hummed but continued to stare off into space.

“You sure?”

I hummed again and blinked out of my stare. “I was just thinking about pictures. I guess I should take some pictures of people and places that mean a lot to me… I guess. I guess that’ll be the best way to get emotion from me…”

“You guess?” Harry chuckled, making fun of my absent-minded repetition of the phrase.

I cocked my head at him from across the island. “I GUESS.”

Harry laughed a little more loudly, tossing his head back as he leaned against the sink. “So do I get the honor of being the first frame?” He motioned toward the camera, suggesting that I use the picture I just took.

I shrugged and turned the camera back on to view the picture. After studying it for a moment, I shrugged again. “I don’t know. I feel like I can get a better one with you.”

Harry pouted. “I love that shot. Plus, I think the whole alcohol thing is significant for the both of us…” He nearly whispered the last part almost as if he was scared to say it. It made my heart jolt, remembering our reason but I tried not to let it seem like it effected me as much as it did.

I set the camera down and licked my lips. “I think I’m going to get a shower.”

“Scotty I didn’t mean-“ Harry started but stopped himself. “I just-“ He looked up at me as I patiently waited. “I’m sorry.”

I tried my best to smile. “No, you’re right. This is going to get personal. I should be prepared for these kinds of things.”

Harry seemed surprised by my response but didn’t say anything. He nodded once and ran his fingers through his hair. “Well-“

We were both startled by a knock on the door. “Let me iiiiin!” Anna sang. I glanced at Harry who rolled his eyes.

“Just a minute, we’re fucking!” Harry yelled.

“HAZ!” I widened my eyes. He grinned, so proud of himself. I scowled at him as I ran for the door. Anna peered in the room cautiously and proceeded to look me up and down before stepping in. “Well you sure got dressed quickly.”

I shot another scowl in Harry’s direction as I closed the door. “What’s up Anna?”

She shoved a paper in my face before falling onto the couch. “Someone emailed you this. High school reunion? You going?”

“Uh, you might not want to sit there. We fucked there yesterday morning,” Harry called from across the kitchen. Anna’s eyes widened but she ignored the comment, thinking Harry was kidding. I didn’t bother to scowl at him this time.

“We don’t know yet.”

Anna huffed. “Well I’m not going if you’re not going. I couldn’t stand to be there without you all. We’re a trio.”

I couldn’t help but giggle as Harry put his hand over his heart and let out a heart-felt but sarcastic sigh. Anna glared at him. “A lopsided trio…” She muttered.

“We’ll let you know,” I said, tossing the paper onto the coffee table in the middle of the room.

“Also,” Anna continued, flipping through a few papers in the bag she had slung over her shoulder. “Bonnie McLynn wants to meet up and discuss the possibility of a photoshoot and additionally my wedding is this weekend.”

She said it so quickly that I almost missed it.

“What?” I gasped. “So soon?”

I mentally slapped myself for asking. Anna was quick to go through relationships all throughout high school. She dated almost every guy in our class and a few of the younger guys, but she was a virgin until her first marriage in her junior year of college. Her engagement to Timothy was her third engagement but her second marriage (that is, if they lasted until the weekend). It all explains why I wasn’t more shocked about her engagement to Timothy – they’d only been dating about 6 weeks. Come to think of it, I had actually never met the guy.

“He’s the one, Scotlan. He is my destiny…” She looked up dramatically at the ceiling and stared off into space for a few moments. Harry mimicked her from the kitchen silently, making me snort and snapping Anna from her daydreaming. “We just can’t wait any longer. He wants to get married this weekend.” She clapped and bounced enthusiastically.

I looked up nervously at Harry. Harry frowned and stepped around the couch. “Anna Banana, it’s what HE wants?”

Anna scooted away from Harry and straightened up defensively. “Don’t you dare call me that. We BOTH want it.”

“Are you sure?” I bit my lip as I tried to read her emotions. She seemed hesitant but nodded.

“We just want to make sure you don’t get pulled into another shitty marriage…” Harry said, sitting next to her on the couch.

The last marriage and almost marriage of Anna’s were absolute disasters. Both men were drunks from a random club who got Anna drunk enough to tell them her bank account balance. After that, they proposed to her just for the money. The first marriage nearly drained her, she managed to get out of a financial rut, and then the second guy nearly drained her of her money again before they were even married. Harry and I warned her before it happened both the first and second time but she never listened. I don’t know why we were trying this time either.

Anna shot up from the couch and stood up tall. “You two can fuck off. You know nothing about marriage or true love or any of that. You just know how to hook up with strangers and- UGH geez I’m surprised you don’t have STDs.” I giggled at her failed attempt to insult Harry and myself. She stormed around the couch and pulled open the front door. “I WAS going to ask you to be my maid of honor-“

“Anna!” I shrieked. “You know we’re just looking out for you. We love you and we want the best for you.” Anna’s body slumped and her face fell. It didn’t take much to calm her down. “Really, we’re sorry,” I continued. “We’re excited for you. I would love to be your maid of honor.”

Anna laughed once. “I was talking to him,” she said, pointing to Harry. “You’re my photographer.”

I grinned back at Harry who shook his head. “Good old Anna…” He walked over to her and put his arm around her shoulder. “I love you but I’ll have to decline your offer,” Harry joked.

Anna made a face and shoved him slightly. “The Maid of Honor dress I bought would only fit Scotlan anyway. The wedding is tomorrow at 5. I’ll send you the address. Be there or fuck our friendship forever.” And with that, she turned and strutted out of the apartment. Harry and I exchanged concerned glances as we listened to her heels click down the hall to the garage elevator.

“She’ll be broke and divorced in a week.”

I shoved Harry. “She’ll be fine, she’s done this before. I think she likes the drama.”

As Harry closed the front door, I picked up the Reunion invite from the table and read aloud: “Blast from the Past – that’s not cliché – come and hang with your buds from the greatest years of your life-“

“They’re trying too hard,” Harry called from down the hall. He reemerged from his room stark-naked and started to walk toward the bathroom. “With all of these events going on in the next few days, I’m going to need to go out tonight.”

I frowned. “So there is so much to do that you’re going to go out and party… what- Hey, I said I was getting in the shower.” I pointed a warning finger at Harry as he began to disappear into the bathroom.

He frowned and hid half of his face behind the doorframe. “But I need a shower.”

“Harryyy,” I whined. “It takes me longer to do my hair anyway. I should get in first.”

His eyes lit up. “So you’re coming with me tonight?”

I sighed but nodded. “I suppose. But only if I can shower first.”

Harry’s frown returned, but he left the bathroom and retreated to his room. I stripped quickly and ran to the bathroom to start getting ready for the night.

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