In these small moments he was always thinking of someone else.
He would zone into a detail of me, my body, and make me feel special, but comparing me elsewhere. Enamored of his definition of beauty. The artful pictures he took of his previous lovers. I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to be told I was beautiful. Exotic. Powerful. Provoking. Etc. Don’t smile. He would say. You look too American. Boring. Dull. Fake. Not beautiful.
He would dress me up in pigtails and corsets and even tattooed me with a star. I was a toy. A pretty play thing. A doll that he was shaping but wasn’t quite perfect.
Take off your shirt, he would stay and position me in front of the camera. Flash. Flash.
Now I was beautiful.