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THROUGH A LENS

by Meredith Craig

Call Time: Friday, September 24, 6 pm, Transpo to Airport.  In the end, it only takes a slight turn of the wheel for everything to change. A screech of tires. The production van rotates hard, spinning in the other direction. The impact tears through the vehicle like a can opener ripping through metal. The windshield cracks. Kimberly’s leg is punctured between the van’s door caving in and the camera equipment. The tripod traps her, keeping her from flying out of her seat, metal claws piercing bone. Someone screams. Smoke fills the air. A thud as the director’s head smacks back against the cube lights that jet forward. Silence. A small voice says “I’m alive,” and it takes Kimberly a minute to realize it’s hers.


*


Call Time: Thursday, September 23, 4:30 am, On Set.  Without coffee, Kimberly’s groggy, but not hungover enough to dull her emotions. She’s on the schedule to drive the equipment truck back to the rental facility tomorrow. Kimberly makes it conditional the director go with her, for one last fight over the unreachable distance between them. It will be the last chance to hash it out. The lofty expectations he had for the film and the reality she caught on tape. The director will win accolades for his film, while her name will be forgotten. The path feels inevitable, and ironically she’s the one in the driver’s seat.


*


Call Time: Wednesday, September 22, 5 pm, La Recoleta Cemetery.  The camera equipment is heavier today than normal, and Kimberly tells herself when she gets back to Los Angeles, she’ll devote more time to classes and rehearsals, and stop settling for less in her job and her love life. She’s sick of men not returning her texts, a habitual occurrence. Kimberly lies in front of Eva Peron’s grand memorial, imagining the peacefulness of resting in the ground for eternity. One of the dozens of stray cats that live in the cemetery, scampers past her, down a narrow passage behind a mausoleum and Kimberly follows with her camera, capturing B-roll. She runs after the fluffy feline, knowing the shots will be too shaky to use, and only stopping when she stumbles over a loose stone and the cat scampers away. Another thing slipping through her fingers.


*


Call Time: Tuessday, September 21, 5 am, On Set.  The film shoot is already behind schedule and over budget, and Kimberly swears for the millionth time this will be her last camera job. She’s not cut out for schlepping heavy equipment in and out of the van, setting up on locations, and being reamed out by the director for missing an angle that was never on the shot list. This work was meant to be temporary, but years later, she’s still here. The location is beautiful, the cobblestone streets of Buenos Aires with the sweet air and late-night dinners. She wishes she was here on vacation with a lover or enthralled in a honeymoon, not as a work-for-hire on a job she hates. The director, who no longer makes eye contact with her, says they’re rolling, and Kimberly focuses on the actress speaking. “It’s not enough to go through life as an observer,” she says, “everyone needs time in the spotlight.” Kimberly thinks she’s speaking directly to her, but of course, she’s invisible behind the camera.


*


Call Time: Monday, September 20, 6 am, Transpo.  For a moment, Kimberly is happy she took the camera gig. The streets are tranquil and she enjoys the thrill of having a secret. But her morning afterglow is punctured when the director asks her if she’d mind driving the van. “That’s a production assistant’s job,” she argues, but the PA has called out sick, and the director is asking her as a special favor. She should say no. It’s only because she’s a woman he’s asking; none of the male crew members would be demeaned like that. Against her better judgment, she says yes. The director gives her a hug, keeping space between them, the kind of hug he’d give anyone who worked for him.


*


Call Time: Sunday, September 19, 2 pm, On Set.  After wrapping for the evening, the crew has dinner reservations at a parilla, a welcome party for everyone on set. The DP tells Kimberly it’s required since the director likes to pretend that everyone is passionate about the project and having fun. Kimberly hates this kind of thing and wishes she was back in her tranquil home among the jacaranda trees in Los Angeles, instead of schmoozing for a job she already has. She sits with the other cameramen, jocular beefy guys who love to drink, and who she’s worked with on other jobs. The steak is marbleized with blue cheese butter dripping off the flesh, and the malbec is flowing. After dinner, a surprise: a tango instructor arrives in a low-cut sparkly pink dress and clackity silver shoes, and leads them all through the movements. Kimberly shocks everyone with her cross and open steps, the pivot of her hips, and her natural ability to glide across the floor. Her body remembers: this is what she was born to do. The director, tall and charismatic, chooses her to be his partner, and when he embraces her just above her waist, she knows she’ll go back to his hotel room tonight. To the beat of the milonga, Kimberly leads him across the dancefloor, so fast her feet barely touch the ground. Her legs move until she’s practically flying.



Meredith Craig is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her fiction has appeared in Variety Pack and is forthcoming in Rock Salt Journal and an anthology to be published by Run Amok Books. Additionally, her non-fiction travel pieces have appeared in Lonely Planet, Delta Sky, Vice, among others, and has written and produced for television. She is a reader for Uncharted Magazine.

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