When she hears Berks call her name through the kitchen screen door, Alex sweeps the photos she’s arranged across the desk into the drawer and slams it shut. She pauses before the mirror on the wall above the sofa, raking her fingers through her hair and straightening her fitted t-shirt.
She glances at her desk and catches sight of one of her “secret project” photos on the floor beneath it, knocked there in her haste. It’s one of her favorites. In the photo, a girl with limp dark hair and pale skin stares back blankly, her eyes unnaturally large and her mouth clamped around a cherry red pacifier she is years too old to be sucking. Her identical sister leans over her with an elongated arm to pick up a crumpled rag doll. The muted gray-green empty expanse of a grassy lawn stretches behind them.
Martin loves this photo and the others in her most recent series. Her husband thinks they are disturbing and beautiful, pointing to the falseness and vanity of portraiture. He warned her not to show them to Berks. And he’s right. Berks will hate them. Berks objects to the digital manipulation of photographs on principle. But she needs an expert opinion, not praise from her husband.