Anton Lansky had a girlfriend, but she was in cheer practice five days a week, so every Wednesday you two ended up in the darkroom. Anton was the only reason you stayed in Photography Club after mailing off your college apps. Mr. G. was an asshole to all the girls, especially you. Ten years later, you remember every detail of those Wednesday afternoons: the red lightbulb, the tongs for lifting the photos out of the development tray, the acid smell of the fixer, the damp photographs clothes-pinned on rubber cord like laundry hung to dry, Anton unsnapping your jeans, murmuring in your ear, “You’re so wet.”
He went to State, you went to Penn. Just before Thanksgiving, you heard he broke up with Kerri. At Christmas break, you almost approached him. Anton leaned over a pool table, his back to you. What a perfect composition he made, his right elbow cocked, his ass the center of an imaginary frame. But you chickened out and left the bar.
Now all you retain of Anton is a Pavlov’s reaction to certain stimuli (your fiancé teases you about how red lights make you amorous), and the one photograph you took, which you had framed. Mr. G. had sniffed, “This is insignificant.” But Anton came to your defense; he said, “I like Jane’s composition.” The Cheetos bag, caught where the rainwater collected at the side of the curb, the wet leaf overlapping it that reminded you (veiny, fibrous) of Anton’s cupped hand.
Kim Magowan lives in San Francisco and teaches in the Department of Literatures and Languages at Mills College. Her short story collection Undoing (2018) won the 2017 Moon City Press Fiction Award. Her novel The Light Source (2019) was published by 7.13 Books. Her fiction has been published in Atticus Review, Cleaver, The Gettysburg Review, Hobart, Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, and many other journals. She is the Fiction Editor of Pithead Chapel. Find her on the web at www.kimmagowan.com and on Twitter at @kimmagowan.