At his desk in the art department, Isaac looks at photographs on his screen of uncomfortable women posing fashionably in deserted warehouses and empty recreation grounds.
This shoot is a mess, he thinks, snorting.
Concentrating, he pares away the imperfect, shaping legs into curving scimitars, skin into polished mahogany and china, remaking faces, shaping bosoms and jaws.
As a child, looking over his mother’s shoulder into the dressing table mirror as she applied makeup, he tried to tell her that she looked better without it. Irritated, she told him to mind his own business.
Last night, Carla tried to tell Isaac how unhappy she was.
When they first met at university, she’d been tall and flat like a teenaged boy. Now she is fuller, heavy and soft like overripe fruit.
“You’d be happier if you were thinner,” he said, knowing he was wrong as soon as he said it.
Despite his embarrassment, she agreed.
Cuddling after they made love, her skin rose between his fingers.
Ignoring the perfected women on his screen, Isaac thinks about the pictures he edited and retouched of Carla; thinning, smoothing, heightening.
Isaac flushes hot with guilt at how powerful and aroused they make him feel.