Bite Me(9)

By: Shelly Laurenston

She didn’t know when it happened. When that font of constant creativity dried up. Creativity had been with her since she was six, when she began to play with a camera that her father had brought home from a small home burglary he’d done one night when he needed a little extra cash. There’d been film inside and once she’d used it all, she’d insisted her father have the film developed. Even her parents had been shocked at how good some of the pictures were. And not one had been a simple family photo or picture of a flower. Far from it. The images included shots of some homeless in the downtown area, teenage children smoking pot, and a full-blood bear that had been caught wandering around town. That had really freaked out her mother when it was obvious from the pics that Livy had spent time in the bear’s lap, and her parents finally realized that their six-year-old daughter was wandering around the town alone when they were out of the house, working on their next heist, or arguing about something ridiculous.

Of course their attempts to curb their daughter’s wandering ways lasted about . . . a week until their next heist came up. Then Livy was free to start down the photography path. She’d read every book she could get her hands on. From straight technical to those big coffee table books from the likes of Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange. She studied all magazines, including fashion, teaching herself to understand lighting and shadow. When she was older, she purchased old cameras and camera equipment, took them apart, and then taught herself to put them back together again, so she understood her equipment inside and out.

Honestly, as far back as Livy could remember, she was never without her camera. Whether it was around her neck, hanging off her shoulder, or in easy reach inside her bag, Livy always had it because she never knew when some image was going to catch her attention.

But for the last year . . . that hadn’t been the case. She’d kept her camera on her but she’d found herself using it less and less. Until eventually it got buried at the bottom of her backpack right along with the lipstick she never used and the gum she’d forgotten had been in there.

What people didn’t understand, though, was losing that desire, losing her interest in photography and in art, hurt Livy. Physically. Right in her chest. And forcing herself to come up with something interesting for her day job at the Sports Center hurt just as much. It was like pulling teeth without anesthesia. Every shot she took was like torture. She didn’t know why, though. She’d done regular photography to pay the bills for years. She’d been an assistant—a sometimes thankless job depending on whom you worked for—a set dresser on fashion shoots. She’d even worked in a mall portrait studio that involved interacting with annoying families. She’d done every menial task necessary because it was all about photography, and every additional dime she got went toward her art.

So then what the hell was going on? Why was it such a struggle for her now?

Livy didn’t know. What she did know was that she had a gallery show coming up in the next few weeks and absolutely nothing new. She kept promising the curator that she would have something new. Something new, powerful, and amazing. But she was lying her ass off. She had nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Livy walked back to her living room and sat down on the edge of her couch.

There were some artists who used the pain of loss—like losing her father—to really explore the powerful demons that drove them.

Livy, however, picked up the remote for her TV and turned it on.

As she stretched out on the couch, her cell phone vibrated. She reached down and pulled it out of her back pocket. It was Vic.

Again, if you need anything . . . or if you want to talk. I’m here.

Livy smiled a little. Vic wasn’t nearly as terrifying as he looked. He was just a nice guy. She sent him a “thanks” back and tossed her phone onto the coffee table.

“What did you say?” Shen asked while enjoying his steak with a side of garlic-infused raw bamboo.

“Just told her I’m here if she needs me.” Vic put his phone on the table.

“That was nice.”


Shen stared at him a moment before asking, “You don’t think it’s enough, do you?”

“Her father died! That’s huge. Don’t you think that’s huge?”

“It would be huge for me. Huge for you. She seemed to be just rolling along. I saw her once with that same expression when she was eating a chocolate fudge sundae at a restaurant in the Sports Center. Which is pretty much no expression. How can a person not have an expression while eating a chocolate fudge sundae?”