The Younger Model

by Daniel Tyler Gooden


The young model was immaculate. Black hair spiraled down a broad forehead. Her skin was pale as if she had been conceived in moonlight and had never strayed from under the cool beams.

In truth, this was the first time she had sat under the hot sun and the corners of her eyes began to crease behind the dark glasses.

“Stop that! Wrinkles can’t be unmade. Don’t squint, don’t smile, don’t laugh. Just sit still!”

“Yes, mother,” the model answered again. She sat with her hands gently crossed in her lap, often smoothing the red silk gown when her mother wasn’t watching. It felt beautiful under her fingers. She was nervous and excited as she thought of her mother’s promise.

“Everyone in the world will see this. It’s high art, beauty in transition, and you’re doing it in my place, for me.” She tried to imagine how many people filled the world. There were a lot here, the most she had seen yet.

“Come on, come on. Let’s prepare,” said the photographer. His voice sounded funny in her ears, her mother’s bestowed memory summoned the thought, “faux French”. He walked down the lawn and crouched before a long case at the end of the lane.

The model rose with the grace that only a modern god could endow. The grass seemed to rise to her feet, to carry her to her place. Her body glided before her mother, who moved equally beautifully, though tempered by age.

She took her place and removed her glasses, her blue eyes meeting the full light of the world for the first time. She blinked rapidly, fighting the urge to squint and looked down the lane. Rows of cameras formed its boundary before converging to swallow the grass path. She would not have to run that far.

Her eyes drifted up to the sky, a few clouds drifting past the setting sun. The photographer was watching as well.

“One shot. Only one shot, that’s all we have. Make this work,” he bellowed to the assistants manning the equipment.

He looked back up to the sky and watched it take on a slight rose tint. He held up his hand and waited until he found his moment. She took a breath and listened to her mother’s last instructions.

“Don’t mess this up. Just run. Keep your hands to your side. Don’t trip on your dress. And for god’s sake—”

“Now! Run,” the photographer shouted.

She was running. The unspent energy of her day-old life rushed into her sixteen-year-old body. The shutters snapped at her heels and drove her on. She ran frantic, determined, beautiful. This was her one moment; she was built for this one shot. The model was the most beautiful woman they had ever seen.

The small bullet pierced her body, slicing though her heart. Her blood misted out behind, staining her dress a darker shade. Her body leaned forward, but its natural grace carried on. It fell, no less beautiful. The model’s body lay on the grass, her life gone before it touched the earth.

All the cameras had captured her fall, one even trained to catch her blue eyes as the light faded from them. The blood soaked into the grass, and as the sun began to set, the cameras continued to catch the last reflection of the rosy light on her pale skin.

“That was very nice. Vogue will be pleased,” said the mother.

“Yes, she almost did it right,” the photographer responded as he placed his rifle back in its case. “Have the next one ready for the fifth. Have her at fourteen this time.”

The clone was left, sublet for decomposition on the Biology Channel. The mother, and DNA original, would be paid well by both parties. Of course, the channel would keep the identity hidden. After all, she was famous and was, or had been, the most beautiful model of her time. It would not do to soil her image on a cable show where anyone could see.