“Pose” by Christopher Searles

Photocollage by Matthew Chase-Daniel, 2009

I slipped off my robe in front of everyone. My husband stood enraged, ready to jump the platform and wring my neck. But I knew when students began scratching their newsprint paper with conté, he’d have to teach.

There in his shirt and tie. His unassuming look. Complete with glasses. But in his head, flustered, wondering how I did it.

It didn’t take much to replace the scheduled life-drawing model. A hundred dollars to not sit naked for strangers was easy money. She had taken the cash and wished me luck.

I straightened out the folds in the platform’s covering sheet.

“Imperfections create depth,” he said, taking the robe from my trembling hands. I grinned, understanding his attempt to appear civil. He turned the small heater towards my flesh. I watched his every move, but sat still.

When I posed with my back erect, hands planted and eyes gazing upward, he circled the classroom. His words scattered. Distracted, by his wife spread out, breasts, ass, and pubic hairs exposed.

“Remember the darkest dark,” he said to a student who had his eyes fixed on my neck, just above a scar. Only a few weeks ago, that scar was a cut accompanied with a black eye and a busted lip to match.

“Next pose.” He said. His eyebrows raised and lips receded back. When I posed, he grimaced.

“What are you doing?” He mouthed with his teeth shut. “Stop it.” Everyone froze and looked around. But it only took one student to start drawing for the rest to attack my unusual pose.

I recalled every kick to my stomach, every punch to my face, every whack with an object to my body. And my eyes watered. He dashed from his position, knocking over a student’s easel and we caught a glimpse of my figure on paper.

My gaping mouth, the darkest mark on the page, I imagined he saw first. My hair, a mix of light and dark, yanked back with one hand. My back arched and knees spread out, pulled against the sheet causing what he called – depth. And the crosshatch shading on my skin, to me, resembled bruises.

“Professor?” A student shouted. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and tensed my muscles.

And with a bang, the classroom door shut and he was gone. I stood up, slipped on my robe, and looked out at my audience. And for the first time, when my heartbeat returned to a normal pace, I spoke openly about my husband’s artistic work sketching my scars.

Christopher Searles has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and creative writing. He also studied visual art at Seneca at York. For the past three years, he wrote short fiction while teaching English in South Korea. When he wasn’t teaching, or writing, he was learning about new cultures travelling throughout Southeast Asia. He currently returned to Toronto as a freelance writer. This is his first publication.

Read our interview with Chris here.