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But you had all these dreams and ambitions and plans for yourself. Your parents encouraged you to pursue your passions, they had more than enough money to help you accomplish what you wanted. In their big apartment, an entire floor of a one of those brick and granite buildings that have lined Central Park for decades. You had everything you ever wanted, or needed, and you never struggled before you ended up here.
It's funny how you think about it. You didn't really "end up" here, like it was an accident or chance that brought you here. You didn't wind up here because you ran away from home or lost all your money or needed one last chance to save yourself from whatever mess you had fallen into.
It was someone else's mess that you fell into.
Junior year, you had everything planned. You spent months and months studying for the SATs and preparing your essays and drawings. You got the best letters of recommendations from your favorite teachers. You just had to finish your portfolio. You wanted to submit to a few schools, just in case your number-one choice didn't go through. You wanted to add sometime extra to the standard still-life paintings and charcoal figure drawings. You had access to a darkroom, and thought some old-school, traditional photography might be the trick. Everything was already digital these days, so going vintage was considered special now.
You trekked around China Town, ambled around the Village, and strolled up Madison Avenue, but you felt like you were missing something. Maybe shooting at night? Some edgy or romantic images, in grainy black and white, you though, of Central Park, could woo any admissions officer, even at the best schools. It would be better than all the other images high-schoolers around the country were sending in to compete with your own. You knew you were a good enough artist, but you had to prove it to others.
And that's when everything went wrong.
You thought you'd finally get something good on this roll of film, something you really wanted to show off. Something no one else had.
What you got was--well, it was something no one else had. It was a wound and a curse and it was entirely unfair.
Some over-reaching asshole, some desperate up-start who had to cause problems, just to get his work acknowledged.
Well, too bad for him. This mess got him stuck in the same place as you, and now he would be stuck catching the weakest moments, to take the most boring photos of rube families with sticky smiles and screeching children. Maybe he got a few shots of the acrobats or big cats, but it wasn't like he could sell those, or anything.
He would never be famous, here.
You wouldn't be either, but you managed to get yourself a slightly better job, once you were able to negotiate for yourself.
Of course, it took some time before you could manage anything much longer than a few short words, a few moans of pain. That knife had stung your side and you swore you were going to die in the dirty backseat of his car. You cursed and spat at him and tried to hold in your blood but it slid over your fingers like ink and you felt the whole world slipping away, coming back in bright flashes as your body is jostled about by him, by the car on the road, then by a stranger, a new stranger. He prodded at your side and gave you some pills and then everything was dim and fuzzy, with just a throbbing, glowing pain in your side.
Your hands turned orange, almost matching your hair. You always smell just a bit like tea leaves now, and even on the days when you have to cover the face-painter's job too, you don't hate your job. It's not that hard, and you can do some pretty creative things from time to time. But you decided you'd never take another photograph again. You hate pictures, hate the sound of a shutter click. You hate him so, so much. You dream about stabbing him in the gut, just like he did to you so long ago. You can't get him off your mind, and you feel stuck to him, somehow attached, indebted to him, even though it was his fault you came so close to dying, that your life had to be saved. It was his fault you wound up here at all.
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