How Soon Is Now?

Sexual Content:
Date Written: 

I had just reached that stage in wakefulness when I knew the room was too light for me to fall asleep again when the phone rang. When the phone rings that early it usually means business or bad news, so even though I wasn’t in the best state at that moment to manage either I picked it up anyway and answered assuming it was business.

“Industrial Photo Services, this is Jim.”

“Oh I’m sorry,” came a woman’s voice in reply. “I’m trying to reach Jim Donaldson of Fashion Photo, I must have the wrong number.” The voice was familiar. It came to me as I swung my legs out of the bed and pushed the cat aside.

“Hey Suzanne, it’s Jim D- been a long time, hasn’t it. What’s up this early in the morning, for the love of god? You’re interfering with my hangover.” Not a bad hangover as these things go- at least I made it to bed and didn’t wake up on the floor this time, but I was still feeling it in my old bones.

“Hangover? That’s not like you, Jim. Where’s Lynn, can’t she steer you out of the weeds? And what’s this about ‘Industrial Photo Services’?”

It had been a long time- at least a year. “Lynn’s living in Minnesota these days, so it’s just me and the cat. And I haven’t shot any fashion in over a year. The recession- well, I closed down the studio and downsized to doing mostly industrial jobs. Insurance claims, product liability, fun on the factory floor, that sort of thing. How’s Bob and the kids?” I asked, just to be asking something as I looked around for my shorts. 

“Oh I’m sorry to hear that, recession huh? Well Bob’s fine and both the kids are in college now, can you imagine that? Hey Jim I’d like to chat but there’s a business thing I need to talk to you about; can you still do a fashion shoot for me, quick-like and soonish? The boys we usually call are booked up and this absolutely has to be done right now, but there’ll be a bonus and residuals, are you up for that?”

I wasn’t sure whether I liked or disliked the fact that Suzanne didn’t follow up on the mention of Lynn. Having her move out had hurt worse than the recession, and some sympathies expressed there would have been nice. But I gave Suze the benefit of the doubt and figured she just wanted to stay away from something best not discussed then and there. Maybe I would trot out the gambit later, over “eight drinks”, which was the secret Suzanne Code for “when the deadlines have been met and the dust has settled”.

“How soon is now?” I asked. “Not to get all Morrissey on you or anything. Thursday or Friday? I should have my current client satisfied by then-“

“No no Jim you don’t understand, I’m talking about today, OK?” she interrupted. Which isn’t like her. She wasn’t by nature rude or brusque and I knew that behind her ditz act she was a master organizer who could set big things in motion. “We have to get the shots to the printer tonight to make the deadline, this is hot hot hot, it’s just one model, one outfit, ten poses, e-mail the files, name your price. Your check’s practically in the mail already, how about it Jim? One more shoot, for old times’ sake?”

Oh man, oh man. It had to be something really big, and it would have to be Suzanne asking for it. Hard to turn down Suzanne. Her agency had sent me a lot of good work over the years I was doing fashion. Now I had to think… did I still have some backdrops that didn’t have hydraulic fluid spilled on them from Failed High Pressure Relief Valve As Shown In Figure 17(a)? Did my big bounce and fill-in flashes still work after 18 months in the garage? Could Medium-Sized Corporation, Inc. wait a day for me to finish touching up the cover shot for the Annual Report That No One Ever Reads so their facility would look like it had a fresh coat of paint on it?

So I decided to take the plunge. For the sake of old times, sure, but also because taking pictures of little bits of broken metal or big pieces of industrial real estate didn’t furnish much opportunity for human interaction. On that front, things were pretty slow around here at Industrial Photo Services, and would always be. Another price to be paid for getting out of the fashion biz.   

                “For you, Suzanne- but only for you. Just a few simple questions first- in order of relative importance: do I have time to put my clothes on, will there be coffee, how much money are we talking, what’s the theme, and who is modeling?”

She laughed and muttered something I couldn’t make out, then said, “the answers are, in order of relative importance, yes please you old creeper” (oh yes, cute banter from Suze, how I loved it) , “yes Starbucks a hot gallon of it I promise” (oh yes, coffee: the lifeblood of tired men, I hungered for it), ”four figures ooh la la (oh yes but wait a red-hot minute! That couldn’t possibly be right, was Suze including the decimals?), “BBW maternity swimsuit” (oh yes, lots more fun than photomicrography of nodular pitting corrosion in cast aluminum, duh) “and Jill Holstein” (oh yes indeed but let’s leave it right there). “You know Jill, right? She’s worked with you before, hasn’t she? Big girl. Really cute.”

Yes, I knew Jill. Hard girl to forget. We had indeed worked together before, and I had to invent the Kindly Old Uncle Jim act to keep from being, well, caught up in the moment. Big and cute, and very hard to forget. After a year I had almost succeeded, and now I would have to start over. But the money angle…

                “Did I hear you right, Suze? You did say… four figures… didn’t you? And residuals? This doesn’t sound at all like business as usual. Far too juicy if I may say so, so early in the morning.”  Normally she’d pay only a couple hundred for a few quick shots and there was never any question about residuals- Suze gets the files, I get one count them one check, end of job... So then Suze started talking even faster than usual. I had a mild head throb going by then, one of those behind-the-eyeballs deals, and the two effects made it hard to keep up.

“Oh yeah well, I also have to say there are some… challenges. Issues with the swimsuit. The designer had made only one example so that’s what I’ve got to work with and we took the job before I checked who I had available, which is Jill, and she’s… well you know Jill, she’s big, but she’s not actually expecting or anything like that, in fact I don’t have anyone in my talent pool at the moment who is, so you’ll have to do some improvising but I know you can do it, right? And as for the extra money, if you can get a good face shot it might show up in more than Big Expectations Magazine- you don’t know it but I’ve been watching that girl, Jill is poised for the big time- no pun intended, actually the press is starting to get interested in her career, you and I could make this her breakthrough gig and so the shots would see more use and you’d get more dollars. I’m thinking in terms of like, like, are you ready for this, cover of the swimsuit issue of BBW Magazine, get it? Or a cosmetic endorsement deal? Which would mean an income stream, Jim, as in a check in your mailbox every month an ad campaign runs one of the face shots?”

Challenges, huh? Snappy chat and challenges, and early in the brisk morning hours, too. Add to that the possibility of too much money, the distinct memory of too much scotch the night before, and the promise of too much coffee, delivered to my door. Plus Jill, the almost too much big beautiful model. I was beginning to remember all the things I missed about the old days, mingled in with all the reasons I had gotten out of fashion photography. I decided then that I needed that coffee, quick-like and soonish. First things first and so on. I took a deep breath and spoke into the phone slowly and earnestly, so Suze would be certain to get my meaning.

“Send coffee, Suzanne Claremont. Send coffee at once. Yes, please send this coffee to me, your old friend Jim Donaldson, the guy with the camera... a gallon of it would be satisfactory, most satisfactory. Make it hot as sin. Make it yourself if necessary, but send it- not now, but now. Quick-like and soonish, got that? I’ll see what I can do about the ‘challenges’ after I drink it.”

“Now that’s the old Jim I know! You’re a pro. Love you madly- the wheels are turning as we speak and coffee is on its way. We’ll have a drink or eight after this is all done, OK? Bye-bye.”



I showered as fast as I could manage on no coffee at all, discovering in the process stiffness in many joints and aches in many muscles. Medium-grade scotch whiskey the night before was the cause. It came from an attorney who settled his case before trial on the strength of some photos I had taken for his client who lost three fingers and most of his hearing when a steam pipe blew up. The pictures showed fatigue cracking in the ungasketed flange, open and shut case. In addition to not costing me anything, the gift scotch was a lot more drinkable that what I usually bought for myself since the downsizing. Both those things put me somewhat deeper into the medicine than I had been planning, strictly speaking. Maybe if I bought more expensive stuff I wouldn’t be as tempted to go through it quite as quickly. Or maybe not, strictly speaking.

The courier rang with two cardboard boxes as I was getting dried off. One was a dispenser of coffee with a spigot on the side and about a gallon of good stuff in it, still hot. I poured myself a mug of this and added a hearty slash of hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-me from last night’s bottle and drank it halfway down as a preliminary test of the recipe. Yes, it would do. I topped it back up and doctored it similarly with more medicine but this time I also stirred in some brown sugar (for the vitamins) and half-and-half (for the fiber), thereby transforming this otherwise barren cup of coffee into it a nutritionally balanced breakfast. It was the first delightful thing that had happened to me that day, and had a salutary and invigorating effect on my mood. After a few more minutes of rummaging around in my garage for the flash units all those ingredients began working their wonders and I put a Smiths CD on the player in the living-room-turned-photo-studio, set it to play “How Soon Is Now,” and went to work unfolding the flash reflectors. 

As Morrissey moaned in the background I opened the second box, which had been opened once before and had a FedEx overnight shipping label on the outside of it. Inside was the swimsuit in question, a gaudy affair in a spandex leopardskin print with a pleated gold satin elastic panel running down the front of it, edged with gold buttons and trimmed off with gold lace, very wide padded straps, and a short skirt with deep pleats and a high waist. The leg openings were big enough to drive a Mini through. It was capacious, very generously proportioned, and built for serious expansion. There were drawstrings tied off in bows here and there which could be loosened, so as to bring more fabric into play. Inside, there was a complicated mix of stretchy webbing and supportive whatnot sewn in everywhere. It was a swimsuit with a serious set of objectives, and its design left nothing to chance.

But unless Jill had grown a lot bigger than she was the last time we had worked together, I could tell this thing was probably too big, even for her. From the old days I knew I had a box of safety pins and doublesticky tape somewhere in my junk pile for last-minute wardrobe adjustments which might help, but before I had much time to contemplate this conundrum further, the doorbell rang again.

I opened the door, and there she was- dressed all for business, in a smart suit and high heels, and was just as cute as I remembered her from last time. There was perfume too… but it was plain that she didn’t recognize me at all. That hurt for a moment, but just for a moment.

                She put out her plump hand and started with, “Good morning, I’m Jill Holstein from the Claremont Agency and- oh my gosh! It’s Jim!“ Then it was all big smiles and squeals and hugs. Oh those hugs. I brought her inside to the kitchen and poured her some of the coffee while she bustled around looking for somewhere to put her traveling bag of makeup and stuff.

I held up the scotch bottle and pointed the business end of it at her mug, making a question out of my eyebrows. She nodded a firm Yes and with an indulgent smile I topped off the coffee with the dietary supplement, then did the same to my mug, and put a little coffee in after it to take the edge off the medicine. Suddenly we were old chums.  “Jill! This is delightful, it’s so good to see you again! And everyone says you are coming up in the world, and now we get to do another shoot!” I said.

                “Jim, I’m sooo sorry, I swear to god I didn’t recognize you at the door! I thought you- didn’t you have a studio downtown last time?”

                “Yeah, but that was before the recession, I hope you don’t mind doing this shoot here in my living room, you can use the master bedroom for changing and makeup, let’s just put your bag in there…  and have you seen the swimsuit yet?” We went back to the kitchen and I handed her the box.  She opened it and pulled out the suit. It unfolded… and unfolded… and unfolded…

                “Ooh, this thing is pretty… but my god it’s way too big!” She frowned as she draped it from her shoulder down to her hip and smoothed down the skirt. “What is it anyway, a size 48 maternity? You could put two of me inside this thing… What does Suzanne expect us to do with it?”

I shook my head slowly and took another long drink of my fortified coffee. With the headache relatively under control it would soon be time to start tapering off the medicine and focus on the job.  “Our boss Suze says she’ll make both of us fabulously rich for solving that problem,” I replied. “I have some pins and tape around here somewhere, let me look for them while you try the thing on. Maybe it’s not as bad as we think.” With that Jill retreated to the bedroom with the suit in hand and closed the door while I went out to the garage again, to dig through boxes and think.

It was both good and not so good to be doing a fashion shoot here at home. Good because it was a chance to prove that I still had the knack and the skills. Good because I needed the money to make good on the separation settlement which was almost finished at that point and which I feared was going to crush me like an insect. Good too because I missed the interaction. But it was not so good because it was with Jill, and she reminded me altogether too much of all the girls I had secret crushes on in college- which, not to put too fine a point on it, was back at a time before her parents had even met.  Eventually I found the box buried under a pile of stuff that Lynn had not bothered to take with her and brought it back inside the house, served myself another healthy swallow of doctored coffee. I then knocked on the door to the master bedroom and called out to Jill: “Is it safe for your Uncle Jim to come in?”

She opened the door and stood back. “Have a look for yourself,” she said, making a full sweeping turn on her toes and coming to a stop in a nice pose facing me, with one arm high and the other low. I pretended to hold a camera and framed the result. It was indeed hopeless. The suit had been tailored for an amazon queen, ten months pregnant with triplets. As big as Jill was, it nonetheless made her look small, even with all the drawstrings fully tightened. “Put away your pins and tape, Mister D, they won’t help. No way can we shoot me wearing this thing.”



I carried our mugs back to the kitchen counter and refilled them both. This time I just placed the bottle next to Jill’s mug so she could help herself if she saw fit, and sat down at one of the high stools. Presently Jill came back with a dressing gown on over the suit and sat next to me on the other stool and yes, she did put a little scotch into her coffee. I spoke first.

                “Jill, this thing is just too good for us to give up on. Suze says she’s got high hopes for your career, especially right now, and there’ll be a lot of good things coming your way if we can pull this off. We can’t call in a seamstress because one, there’s just no time, and two, it would mess up the design.” Remembering things I hadn’t wanted to, I went on. “There’s only one way out, as far as I can see, but it’s going to get kind of weird, and if you would rather not, then I’ll understand. And I’m sure Suze will too.”

                “What is it?” asked Jill, looking up from her coffee. We locked eyes then for a long moment as I considered whether or not to suggest what I was going to suggest. Even two years on, I was still embarrassed by how I came to know what I knew, and what the consequences of it had been to my business and career. 

                “Jill, neither you nor Suzanne know the real reason I quit doing fashion shoots and had to close the studio. But I’m going to explain it to you now, because it was among other things how I learned to do what I’m going to suggest to you.” I reached for the bottle and poured myself a little something just to toy around with while I told my story. “It’s… weird, and sad and stupid. And funny, in a weird and stupid way, but you have to know, OK? So you can decide whether or not to let me do this thing. OK?”

Jill said, “OK.” She’s as sweet as they come, but I could see she was out of her depth now, and it would get worse before it got better. I would have to keep things as straightforward as I could.

“Two years ago I got this gig to shoot for some new-age magazine, it was real glossy rag that was featuring traditional African fashion and cultural stuff.  So this whole crew of Africans shows up at the studio along with the art director from the magazine and a bunch of other big shots who wanted to watch. As part of the fashion angle, which they wanted pictures of, they were going to stage some sort of dance ritual, with drums and singing. It was a big deal, I had hired three extra camera guys on the set and we would be shooting from four angles while they acted out this thing.

“The focus was on this young black woman who was supposed to represent some sort of fertility goddess. She was about six foot three and must have weighed, oh god don’t know how much, but she was built just like you, only taller, OK? That suit you have on would have fitted her like a glove. Anyway, she was supposed to model the fashions while she danced this dance. So the drums and singing start, we start shooting, and then halfway through, another dancer who was supposed to represent another fertility god or something comes on with a big carved wooden mask or helmet thing and fits it down over the girl’s head. It’s got big rubber lips in front and two eyeholes with glass in them and it looked like it was airtight.

“And then while she is dancing, this is the thing now- stop me if this is too weird for you- the other dancer puts his mouth over the rubber lips and starts blowing air into the helmet. And the girl starts getting bigger. I’m not kidding. The drums and singing get more intense, he blows more and more air into the helmet, and after a minute or two she’s as big as a house, and then the music and singing does down and he leaves the set and she goes into this slow dance.  So, there’s the deal: it’s possible for one person to blow another one up like a balloon, and I saw how they did it. Are you OK?

“I’m OK, ” says Jill. Her eyes are really big.

“Swear to god, this is the truth. Now she’s so fat she can barely move, and she starts making noises inside the helmet and it sounds to me like she’s suffocating in there, but nobody helps her. Finally I can’t stand it any longer, she’s been in the helmet for at least two minutes, maybe three, and I rush the set to pull the helmet off her and she’s struggling, and now I’m certain she’s suffocating and I’ve got to save her. And I get the helmet off her but two of the other dancers start yelling and they come over and pull me away just as her helmet comes free and they throw me back into my tripod. I go down, the camera goes down, and gets smashed.

“Now everyone is laughing, except the girl I thought I was saving, and she’s mad as hell. Do you know why?”

Long pause. Jill is staring down at the counter top, into her coffee mug. In a tiny voice she says, “Yes. She… she  wasn’t suffocating. She was coming a little, just then... and you stopped it.”

Suddenly I can’t breathe. Oh. My. God. Jill knows about this kind of thing. Innocent Jill, of all people. She KNOWS.   

                “So… ah, you know about what happens when a girl gets blown up and, and, has to hold her breath like that?” I asked her, after I could start breathing again.

                “Yes…” Jill went on in her tiny voice. “Yes. I know all about it. It’s called… blowkissing. It’s supposed to make you have something called an… an… airgasm. Which is just like, well, you know… Other girls do it to a fat girl just to be mean, because if you blowkiss a fat girl, you can make her wet herself in front of everybody.”  

And of course I had no idea that this was known to others. I poured myself a bigger portion and swirled it around in my glass. It was warming up in the kitchen, the sun was high and I could hear one of my neighbors trying to start his lawn mower. Other than that it was completely quiet and still. I put the bottle down and then neither Jill nor I moved a muscle for a long while. Just as I was finally ready to finish my story, Jill suddenly spoke again. Not quite a whisper this time but close to it.

“They… they used to do it to me, the other girls I mean,  in junior high school, in gym class and the pool, because I was fat, before I started getting tall. Then they laughed at me. I cried a lot…”

“I’m sorry, Jill. I’m so sorry.” I reached over and briefly squeezed her hand, tried to say more but couldn’t.  I am so lame… and my voice had gotten really tiny by then. Oh god. The girls I had crushes on, could this have happened to them too? Get a hold on yourself, old man. Remember the Old Uncle Jim act… There’s the paper towel roll. Tear one off and give it to Jill. That’s good. Better tear off one for yourself while you’re at it, you old fool. 

We used our paper towels as quietly as we could. Jill went on, trying to be matter-of-fact and not succeeding. I got her another paper towel.   

“Then later, my boyfriends tried it, but it… it… I could never get it to work the way everyone said it was supposed to. Sometimes afterwards, because of what would… happen, they would laugh at me too.”

Neither of us said anything for a longish while. Jill poured herself some more of my medicine. I held my mug over to hers. We clinked rims, very gently, and drank without looking at each other. There was the perfume again. How long had I been aware of it? Then it was my turn to speak.  

                “It turns out I was the only person in the whole damn room who didn’t know what was going on. Everyone laughed at me. I spoiled the shoot, lost the job, wrecked my camera, and became the laughingstock of the fashion photo community. No one took me seriously afterwards. They just laughed. The studio folded, I had no income, and Lynn…” No need to go into that. No need at all. It was my turn to talk rapidly.

“…And instead I started taking pictures of broken machine parts for people who were suing each other. That’s why you hadn’t heard of me in so long. It’s been two years, and for some reason Suze decided to throw me a piece of work. Now that I see how big that swimsuit is, I’m pretty sure I know why she called me. She’s the only other person in the world who knows that I know how to do it.  So… now you know too. The rest is really up to you, Jill. It’s your choice now.”

 In her still-tiny voice, she looked at me and said, “I’m scared.” The tears were making her mascara run. Have to fix that if we are going to do any photography today. When it felt like I could speak again, I went on. Slowly and cautiously.

“Look, Jill… You and I are pros, yes? We can keep this on a… a professional basis. The outcome could be very, very good for both of us- in different ways, of course, but still very, very good. I’m willing to try it, and if anything goes wrong… I promise, I promise I will not laugh at you. OK? Do you understand that?  Your career is set to take off. We can make that happen, I know it, and nobody is ever going to laugh at you again, for the rest of your life. If I can get the right picture of you, at just the right moment, I might be able to redeem my own career, or at least make it so nobody will laugh at me either- at least for a while. Then we go our own separate ways, and keep the secret. Because we’re pros, Jill. We can show them. We can, you and I. Right?”

Long pause. Then Jill got up, wrapped herself properly in the gown, looked at me not unkindly, and whispered, “I’ll go fix my makeup. I’ll be just a minute, then we can start.”



I had a backdrop in bronzes and tans. It had no hydraulic fluid stains on it. With the folds in it, it almost looked like a rock wall or a cliff face and I draped it from the ceiling hooks down onto and then across the floor. I closed the drapes and plugged in the flash units. I turned off the room light, and a moment later Jill came in. Very slowly. I took her hand and led her to the center of the backdrop, left her there while l I set up the camera and rigged a remote so I didn’t have to be behind it to grab a shot when the time was right. Then I came back to her and told her what was going to happen.

“OK, Jill… now what I’m going to try for is to get a face shot right at the moment you, uh… the moment the airgasm happens, OK? Which will be not long after I have blown you up to the point where the swimsuit fits nice and snug. So I’m going to blow, and you have to hold your breath, so I’ll do it as fast as I can but you have to tell me if I’m going too fast or, ah, if you feel like you have to stop and go to the bathroom. OK? Just shake your head ‘no’ any time you want me to stop. I’ll start shooting when you start posing, and I want you to look straight at the camera right at the moment you feel yourself starting to let go. Then we’ll be done, and you can open your mouth and exhale and we’ll all become rich and famous, just like Suzanne says, OK? OK. Here goes…”

I am awkward damn it I am awkward. I started, then paused. I will never be masterful- I can take control of a camera but how are you supposed to take control of a woman for god’s sake? Even when she’s expecting it? I started again and paused again. Professional basis, Old Uncle Jim. Professional basis.

Oh hell, I put one hand around the back of her head and kind of closed in on her and turned my head a little sideways and fortunately she only had a little lip gloss on so I got a firm seal and started to blow. And in response, she started to grow.

I blew and as I did, she plucked out a fold or crease here and there in the suit and straightened out the elastic as it began to confine her growth and guide her expansion. She tugged at the hem of the skirt and smoothed it out over her tummy.

I blew, and her breasts filled out like party balloons and soon were making contact with the huge bra which was sewn into the top of the swimsuit.  She reached down inside the front of the suit and lifted her breasts up and over the stout wire that ran around the bottom edge of each cup so they were properly supported, with her nipples up in the tips. I could see them through the material of the suit, which was just starting to stretch there. Were they getting hard? They had to be, if they were to show through the fabric like that.

I blew, and I could see her chest expand and her breasts rise and spread apart. She ran her thumbs back and forth under the shoulder straps of the suit to even out their stretch and then cupped her hands under her breasts and shifted them around a bit, then smoothed the stretchy fabric out. They were immense.

I blew. As the pressure inside her built up, I had to use both hands to hold her head in place as I blew harder and harder into her waiting mouth and soon I found that I had to step back and lean in over the top of her belly, where most of the air was now accumulating. 

I blew, and with each breath I blew into her, her legs swelled up bit by bit and began to press up against one another. She reached down under the skirt and put her plump fingers in the leg openings and ran them around her huge, fat  thighs to stretch out the elastic there so it wouldn’t bind and pinch.  

I blew, and she lifted the skirt to reveal the drawstrings on either side of the broad expanse of elastic that stretched across her belly and tugged the bows out of them. As the elastic slackened, her belly thrust itself even further outward, and I thought: quintuplets? 

I blew, and her belly just kept getting bigger. As it bulged farther and farther out, the pleated satin skirt draped coyly across it rode up far enough to reveal the deep dimple of her navel inside the tight elastic. She was now transformed into a size 48 maternity and the suit was stretched completely full and it fit her like a second skin. She was now radiant, gigantic, and almost immobilized and as I released her and went back to the camera she started to slowly, ponderously turn and pose, as if dancing in slow motion.

The Smiths CD had long since started itself over and was playing “How Soon Is Now” again and it was against this backdrop that she started to make little moans and gasps, releasing small amounts of air as she did. At this point she had also begun to caress her immense belly and breasts with her very plump hands. I took picture after picture, then stepped forward to blow a little more air back into her to make up for the loss, and returned to the camera. This just made her moan and sigh more, and soon I had to blow another breath of air into her every few seconds just to maintain her size and then I had to blow another big breath into her after each of her moans and groans, which were becoming louder and more insistent.

Finally it was time for her. She gasped, trembled, motioned clumsily for one more breath of air, and danced from tiptoe to tiptoe faster and faster. She was almost there. I took one last deep breath and blew it into her mouth as hard as I could manage and then stepped back out of the frame and click! I caught her just as she arched her back and emitted a sudden squeal of panic. She turned her face towards the camera; I zoomed in and in that instant her face was suffused with an expression of the most sublime contentment I could imagine: click click click.

I got it. I got it all.



Then we were finished, Jill and I. She had done it at last, and I had captured it with my camera. With that she sighed and started to fall over backwards and I rushed over and steadied her as she slowly released the air which had temporarily transformed her into an object of immense and overwhelming beauty.  And that was it. I guided her back to the bedroom as the suit grew slack and saggy, and closed the door behind her. I went back to the kitchen for a drink that quite frankly consisted mostly of medicine and just a suggestion of coffee for the sake of appearances- even though nobody was watching.

Suze was pleased with the result and paid me five grand for the photos, which did indeed launch Jill’s career into the stratosphere. And she was right about the residuals too: for the next year, I got a check in the mail every month for at least that much, because the picture I got right at Jill’s magic moment went on to sell everything from hair color to toenail polish.

The initial five grand paid off the attorneys and left me in the clear at last. The five grand a month let me buy my ex out of her share of the house, on payments. And when it got out that I had been Jill’s photographer that day, the phone started ringing nonstop. One of my friends found an audio clip of an old-school cash register going “ka-ching” and made a ringtone for my cell phone out of it... By the end of the year I had restarted the studio operation and turned right around and sold it for a completely absurd amount of money. After all that, nobody was laughing at me anymore. 

Jill was pleased with the result too and took careful note of what she thought I had done differently with her that morning- and took that secret with her when she left. We friended each other on Facebook and for the crazy year that followed, we sent chatty little notes back and forth like a couple of teens, which made me feel like I was at the start of things again. But as the months went by, her fame and her friend count rose steadily and her messages to me became less and less frequent, despite the number of them I sent her. They stopped altogether after a major agency picked up her contract with Claremont and set about making her a supermodel. Nobody was laughing at her anymore.

I still remember the last post she made to her friends before her new employer converted her page into a fan club. I was sitting at the computer that night with a mostly-empty bottle of not just good but very good scotch at my elbow. Jill’s post included a picture of her with some guy more or less her age at her side, and I recognized immediately that she was radiating the same expression of sublime contentment that I had caught a glimpse of on the day of her breakthrough, one year earlier.

Slowly it dawned on me. The photo was proof that she had found someone, the right someone, with whom to share the secret I had given her- which I had, up until that moment, thought of as our secret. Now it was that no longer, and our connection melted away into nothing. Then I slowly began to realize that this secret connection had never really existed at all. I had imagined it.

That realization, plus the effects of my medicine- to which I had once again helped myself too liberally that night- pushed a slow dagger of ice right through my heart and I thought oh god not again. Not again. I squeezed my eyes shut as if that would stop what was now happening. It didn’t, and where were the paper towels, damn it to hell?

Illusion became disillusion: I had been a fool, a complete fool, what the hell had I been thinking all that time?

How soon is now? I was TWICE her age.

As I stood up, my head spun around so badly that I began to fall over. As there was no one available to catch me, I had to make a mad grab for the bookcase, which fortunately broke the fall. I got upright again, poured a heartily abundant slosh of the scotch into the glass, drank half of it right where I stood in a move of drunken and unfocused defiance, stuck my Smiths CD into the player, and waited for a certain special song to start. The cat joined me as I shuffled my way down the dark hallway with no one to guide me towards that same bedroom- with very unsteady legs and very undry eyes- feeling now very, very much older and not a single tiny bit wiser. 

How soon is now? Damned if I knew.


Tears fell on the floor, but I was, however, careful to not spill a single drop of the very good scotch as I carried the brimming glass of it back to my empty bed, in my empty house, in the middle of my own empty night. 

Author's Note: 

This started out an an entry for this year's Prose That Blows contest, but by the time it was finished, it had become far too long, and bittersweet instead of playful. So I'm posting it here.

Most of it came to me, almost unbidden, in the course of a day-long marathon of typing. I then added embellishments  and some very minor edits in a second six-hour session. 

I sincerely hope it is not too bittersweet for your tastes. 

Best regards,



Average: 3.4 (7 votes)
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Enjoyed I very much

Very good,  bittersweet like a good cup of joe, I enjoyed it very much, and really like your writing style, it's almost a noir feel, but still very modern and well written.



PopRoxxie101's picture

I had figured PTB contest was the theme with the focus on her outfit.

I appreciate the amount of world building placed into this story. Creating an endearing character that recognizes his faults but loses himself in fantasy for a moment. That kind of naustalgia that we all get lost in from time to time.

A bitter ending, but a sort of reminder that you should always enjoy the time you have. Cause it can pass you by all too soon.


Thank you for a wonderful read, reminding us that fetish fiction doesn't have to be all smut.