(after William Gedney’s ‘Cornett Girls, Kentucky, 1964’)
The man had been staying at the Couchs’ and taking photos here and there. Linda had seen him at the gas station, the large camera hanging from his neck, and wondered what it would take to get him to photograph her. She couldn’t ask, could she?
Sometimes she’d brush and brush her hair, borrow her mother’s lipstick, and pretend in front of the mirror that she was a model for the Sears catalogue, some man taking her picture in one outfit after another. She’d be good at it: she could walk with a book balanced on her head.
A few days later, before lunch, she was standing with Laura and Lucy in the kitchen. Laura and Lucy were talking about whether Momma was going to go to work now Daddy’d been laid off, but Linda wasn’t listening, just staring out the window, not really thinking of anything, when she heard the loud snap of a camera.
They all turned around. Momma said, ‘This man’s been takin’ pictures. He asked if he could take some round the house, an’ I said yes.’
The man nodded slowly. Linda suppressed a groan: her back had been to the camera, and her hair was all scraggly, unbrushed since the night before. She hurried past the man and Momma to the bathroom, to make herself nice real quick, and go back and ask for a proper picture. He’d put it right, surely. Wasn’t that what a photograph was for?
CARRIE ETTER has published three collections of poetry, most recently Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014), shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry by The Poetry Society. Her first pamphlet of fictions, Hometown (which this story is taken from), is available from V. Press here. She is a Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.