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Daguerreotype

Her heels clacked as she strode purposefully across the parquet floor of the small, independent art gallery. It was late morning, midweek in early November and she almost had the place to herself. She had plenty of time and space to enjoy any of the exhibits, but she was there for just one small photograph. 

"Une fleur de Créteil", Emile LeFevre, Daguerreotype, Paris 1847 revealed the sign beside the velvet-lined case containing the photograph; a shimmering mirror-like image of a young woman reclining naked on a couch, being fucked by an almost invisible lover. The pin sharp clarity of the objects surrounding the lovers: the threadbare rug, the malnourished aspidistra stood in stark contrast with their ethereal forms.

The young woman in the image was effortlessly beautiful. Her naked, shapely form perhaps more fashionable then than now. Her lines softened by small movements as the image was being captured. Firm, plump, youthful breasts, her nipples simply light grey ovals. There was no visual evidence of the brass clamps used to hold her securely in place for the fifteen minutes or so of exposure required for the process. Facing the camera, her eyes were wide open but at the same time tightly closed. Her rosebud lips parted and yet sealed. Her hands resting on the arm of the couch above her head. Her soft thighs spread open to accept his ghostly torso.

Of him there was little to see beyond a smoky confusion of opacity above her. His right forearm clearly visible, resting on the polished wooden bar on top of the couch, his fingers curled tightly around it. There were four ghostly impressions of his left hand, in varying degrees of clarity - one clearly gripping at her fleshy hip, another holding her wrist. His left foot firmly planted on the rug, his leg fading into the swirling cloud of movement between her legs. 

This wasn't a captured moment - more a captured dream, a fantasy, a desire. An experience trapped forever on a thin sheet of copper.

Staring at the image on the gallery wall, she couldn't help drifting away from autumnal London to the photographer's Parisian garret. Sweltering under the July sun streaming through the glass ceiling. The noise of the busy streets below coming through the open windows. The air thick with a heady mixture of chemicals, sweat and sex. Her glowing body, naked and clamped to the moth-eaten couch. Him powering between her thighs, taking what he needed from her.

She breathed a little deeper and felt considerably warmer as she imagined the raw, animal, lustfulness of his actions. Her body reacting as if his hands really were on her.

She reached into her handbag for her phone and furtively looked around to see if anyone was watching her. Splaying her fingers across the screen, she zoomed in to perfectly frame the image, happily ignoring the signs forbidding photography. She took her shot, quickly tapped out an accompanying message and within a few seconds the image was on the other side of the world.
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