2007 Valentine's Fiction Contest: Finalist

The Food Artist

  The photograph that inspired the 2007 Valentine's Fiction Contest.
The photograph that inspired the 2007 Valentine's Fiction Contest. (Jutta Klee -- Getty - )
By John Isaacs
Thursday, February 7, 2008; 5:40 PM

After the shoot, Lil met her twin, Adam, at a bistro equidistant from their dorms.

Today, they would celebrate his birthday. He was 21. They would celebrate hers next week. This birthday she did not want to share.

"Let's see what you picked," Adam said.

"But this is your day," Lil said, placing, without hesitation, the border frosted envelope holding her proof in the middle of the table.

Adam opened the envelope and looked at the photo, his present to her. "A picture of your back?"

"Is that all you see?"

"Is that all I see?"

"Is that all?"

"No," Adam said. "Now I see."

"What's that mean?"

"This day's not going to be about me at all."

Lil was not complicated, nor did she like complicated things. She claimed a clean, tidy room, saying what you mean, soap and water, cash, not credit. For exercise, she jumped. She took nine credits per semester, studying where it was most quiet, in the college chapel, at the end of the tenth pew under stained glass light. She liked the didacticism of journalism, the simple questions, who, what, when, where, why, although her grades were higher in her creative writing classes, where her professors, she imagined, could not help but mistake her for her character. Her face got her places, which she allowed. So she was surprised when Mick, the food artist, the friend of a friend of Adam, barely looked at it.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company