22. ANGEL

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The Mystical Nativity, Botticelli, 1500
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『 nsfw 』

Isaac really needed to sneeze. He tried his best to hold it in, but every time he thought he was good, his makeup artist would spin back around and powder more onto his face. To make matters worse, the brush she used prickled his skin with every small touch. Isaac must've contorted his face in an extremely rude and disgraceful way, because the woman painting his face like a blank canvas eventually removed the brush to stare at him impatiently.

     "If you have to sneeze, just say so," she said. She was a slightly curvy woman, with her own face glammed up and hair bigger than the moon.

     "Thank you," he replied. When nothing came out, it burned like hell and his eyes watered in a failed attempt to extinguish the flames in his nose. Dear God, the pain and agony of an incomplete sneeze. Sheepishly, he apologized to his makeup artist for interrupting her.

     "I don't think I'm right for this job," he admit. "I'm going to be fired."

     She let out a snort. "Hun, you're pretty much free to do whatever you want, you know," she smirked, "with Jesse taking such a liking to you, after all."

"Liking?"

"Don't act all innocent. First day and you're already the star of the show?" She quirked a thick, filled-in brow. "How was he, dollface? I heard he's quite skilled with both."

"You're confusing me."

"Um..." she muttered, a look of regret forming on her sparkling face. "Didn't you...like, sleep with him for this spot?"

     Isaac frowned still, but caught on. It was his first day at work and people were already gossiping about him behind his back. "No? What do you even mean by star of the show? I was told I'm a background model, meaning not the center of attention. I'm just here to make money so that I don't die homeless."

     She passed him a small, handheld mirror. "Honey, take a good look at yourself. Does this look like the face of an extra to you?"

     Taking the mirror by the handle, he glanced into the glass and his eyes widened at the sight. She was right; he didn't look like an extra at all. The sharper parts of his face: cheekbones, nose bridge and bow of the lip were emphasized as they glistened under studio lights. Meanwhile, the softer aspects like the skin of his cheeks were a faint rose, not so much that he looked like a clown but just the right amount to resemble a daydreaming girl in the presence of her crush. Dewy and bright. Dare he say beautiful. He was almost...

Angelic.

He tried to hard to find the right words to describe how he looked, but once he did, he didn't doubt them. A fallen angel he was.

"Jesse specifically requested that I make you like this."

Isaac heard but didn't respond, too busy starting at the stranger in his reflection.

It's time for the artist to become the art.

     So this is what he meant. How clever. While Isaac painted a world where innocence didn't exist, Jesse provided ironic juxtaposition. He took what was dirty and vile and filled with sin and made it pure again. Isaac felt mocked, like the man was teasing him with an image of what he could've been, perhaps in another life or another world, but instead never was because fate made a different decision for him. It made him furious.

     When the woman finished, Isaac thanked her and left for his first shoot. Although calm in appearance, looks are often deceiving, for he was already planning on confronting the photographer behind the scenes.

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