“Ethel? Well, that’s a nice name — old as wood,” Said Rebecca.
“My parents wanted a daughter with a woody sounding name, I suppose.” said Ethel.
Rebecca placed a tripod at one end of the room, then attached her camera to the top plate. She looked through the viewfinder at an empty chair. The chair had a soft seat with a flowery pattern woven into it. She stopped twisting the lens when the flowers looked sharp and colourful. Then she stepped back, turned to her client and asked her to sit in the chair.
“Oh, already?” Asked Ethel. She stood up, flapped the chiffon shawl around her neck and marched five paces towards the chair, she twisted her body as she attempted a graceful turn in front of the seat. Instead of delicate grace, a dull thud rattled some glass objects on a shelf as her backside hit the chair.
“I thought you would first talk to me. You know, get to know your portraitee before deciding on poses, and so on,” Ethel rearranged her shawl. Rebecca noticed the small holes in the material, and decided it was probably as old as Ethel herself.
Rebecca looked up from her camera lens, “We can talk a little, but I get my best ideas in action. When you sit in the chair, we’ll be halfway there — just act naturally, can you stop doing that with the shawl, please?”.
“Well, they should be very good photos. I’ve got an audition for a part soon, the director will probably look through my portfolio before I read for him. And I’ve heard things about him, you know.”
“Really, what have you heard?” Rebecca was still busy adjusting the flash units and soft light boxes. She spoke absent-mindedly.
Ethel flapped a piece of shawl around in front of herself, “He demands a high standard, and has little patience. Only the best tread his boards,” Ethel waved the long white shawl like a ship’s sail, part of it was spread across her knees, and the rest bunched in her right hand.
“I image he’ll want to see emotion in these photos.”, Said Rebecca.
Rebecca leaned down behind the camera, adjusted the focus, checked the angle of the two flash units, and placed her index finger gently on the button.
“Are you good? At acting, I mean,” Rebecca waited, eye and hand steady, breath baited for the moment.
Ethel’s backside rose up from the seat, there was a light puffing sound as air escaped from under her, her face reddened and her eyes widened. Ethel’s mouth quivered for a short moment and Rebecca pushed the button, then Ethel, face infuriated and deep red, gave Rebecca an opportunity to push the button and capture three more emotions. One of surprise, followed by astonishment, which then transformed into embarrassed anger.
Ethel stood in front of the chair, the shawl wrapped tightly around her arm, “Of course I’m good at acting — that’s why I audition regularly. What on earth do you think of me?” She raised her voice and the glass objects in the cabinet tinkled.
Rebecca snapped off two more shots of Ethel standing indignant. The wide angle on the lens grabbed at her red face and pulled it towards Rebecca’s camera.
“I think you’ve ruined my portraits, haven’t you?” Said Ethel.
“I’m sure I haven’t. They’ll be just what you need.”
“Please, turn the chair at a ninety-degree angle. Towards the window light.”, Rebecca held her arm straight in front of herself, and wiggled her finger back and forth like a metronome.
The light spread across Ethel’s face. The strong snobbish features, and the large rise on the bridge of Ethel’s nose were perfect. She looked like a boxer in a mink coat and lipstick.
“Stand up, please. I need you very close to the camera,” Rebecca looked in her camera bag. She found exactly the lens she was looking for.
“What on earth is that thing?” Ethel looked shocked.
Rebecca had found the lens on her travels in South America. A woman who lived in a small cave sold it to her. The woman explained that it was a special lens, for a special photographer, “you will capture souls with this lens,” The woman had taken a small sum of money, then scurried back into the darkness. Rebecca became curious, so she used it a few times, then discovered its exact use.
On her way back to Europe she had to show it to a customs official who thought it looked strange, “What does this part do? Why does the glass look like the eye of a fly — it has dozens of angles on one surface?” Rebecca couldn’t explain, but she was finally allowed to board her flight back home.
She first used it to take some photographs of a woman she didn’t like. The results pleased her. After the photo shoot, the woman became very placid, almost soulless. Then she turned angry for a few minutes. Luckily, the woman then simply disappeared.
Rebecca fitted the lens.
“That’s it, it won’t take long now”.
“Oh, I suppose you want me to smile or something, I’d like to adjust my lipstick, first,” Said Ethel.
“Can you do rage?”
“Rage? You want me to show anger and torment?”, asked Ethel.
“Yes, please. It’ll help me to bottle all of your emotions into one simple shot, then I can pack you away for the day,” Rebecca looked at her hands and noticed how they sweated with nervous excitement.
“Come on, I’m sure people find you extremely irritating most of the time,” Rebecca pushed the camera forwards. The lens was now in front of Ethel’s face.
“Is that necessary?” Ethel was angry, a puff of air released from the chair cushion as she attempted to stand, Rebecca pushed her back into the chair. The glass objects tinkled in the cabinet.
Rebecca pushed the button, the camera mechanism slid open, then with a metallic clunk it sounded like a guillotine hitting the block.
Ethel had left the room, body and soul. Rebecca busied herself by collapsing the camera tripod, then carefully cleaning the strange lens. She detached it from the camera and placed it into the canvass bag which the woman in the cave had given her.
After cleaning up, she took the memory card from the camera and transferred Ethel’s soul onto another memory stick made of glass. The contents could be seen. Ethel’s anger and torment hadn’t quite reached a point of rage, but Rebecca could clearly see the surprise and shock on Ethel’s face.
She went to the cabinet, placed the glass memory stick next to the others and closed the transparent doors again. She would upload it to the computer for a better look, later.
The phone buzzed, Rebecca had made several appointments for the day. She would be busy.