I’m holding this Polaroid in my hands and they’re trembling because all I know is different and all I am is changed.
We were in my flat where the walls nearly kiss each other, drinking elderflower fizz with a little gin in it, and then a little more. We got giddy until ceiling became porridge and we fell over one another like fishing worms. We lay there, on our backs, side by side. Jennifer was wearing a yellow checked summer dress down to her thighs. Lying down, the dress rose higher and I could see a faint line where she’d stopped shaving.
“Do you still have that Polaroid camera Tiff?”
“Yeah, I do.”
It was a gift from my grandma and I had had it since I was about nine. I had gone on and on about how James from school had taken a photo of the castle on a school trip, and how within minutes, the photo was there in his hand. Taking a photo of a moment that could never be reversed. I rolled towards Jennifer. She smelt like butterscotch up close, all warm and golden.
“Let’s do a photo shoot. Take my picture.”
I pushed myself from the floor feeling like a spinning top about to rotate its final turn, and pulled the camera from the drawer. Jennifer was already on her belly, kicking her legs out and pouting her lips and licking them to make them shine.
“Okay, stay there.” I poised the camera ready to snap.
“Wait!” She wriggled her boobs to give her a thin shadow between them. I felt three hard thumps somewhere in my body.
She nodded. Snap.
As the camera pushed the photo out and into my hand, Jennifer jumped up grinning with an idea.
“I bet I can strip in the time it takes for that photo to develop.”
She bounced out of her sundress, tan lines streaked across her like a road map. I saw the curve of her breasts turn to the ridge of her pelvis as it cut down to her inner thighs. I felt the thumps harder this time and flapped the photograph while she giggled onto the floor, rolled over onto her stomach.
“Give me it! Quick!” She held her hand out and the photograph came into focus.
As I pulled the camera to my eye, and my finger hovered over the button to click, I thought of boys. Jennifer. I thought of my celebrity crushes kissing their way down my legs Jennifer sticking their tongue between my fingers. Jennifer. Through the lens I saw her covering herself. And for a split second, I just wished she’d move her arm for me to see.
She grinned and stuck her tongue between her teeth.
“Hurry up Tiff. I’m starting to think you like me naked.”
I’m holding this Polaroid. I shake the photo and she’s still there, and I shake shake shake it again but that thump in my body won’t stop.
Annabelle Carvell co-founded and edits Synaesthesia. She has been shortlisted for the 2012 Cinnamon Press Short Story Prize and has work published or forthcoming on Lime Hawk, pioneertown, Litro Magazine and CHEAP POP, amongst others. She is interested in taboo human relationships, and anything on the brink of breaking.
Annabelle Carvelle reads