by Shawn Huelle
Somewhere, she thought, somewhere there is a photograph wherein people are baring too many teeth, convinced for whatever reason that this moment is the happiest—No, she thought, it isn’t happiness that people show with their teeth, at least not always—sometimes, yes, that she had to admit, but not always—no, what people usually showed with their teeth was what they thought happiness might be.
She didn’t believe, like many of her more cynical friends, that most people were desperately unhappy; rather, she was quite convinced that people simply didn’t know what happiness was—not something lasting, but brief moments, which, now that she thought about it, could probably only be captured by a camera—and what she wanted, what she was looking for, was a photograph where too many people were baring their teeth at a singular, central character who had come to them to elicit this very facial expression. He would, of course, be wearing white gloves.
What, she wondered, do white gloves have to do with happiness? But these are my desires, she though, I’m the one painting—no, composing this photograph which must already exist somewhere in the world.
What else? The color red? Supple leather? Yes and no. Both of these things and something more. Three shades of red, and something blue. The leather, upon further rumination, seemed inconsequential.
Fleece? Garlands? Warmth and merriment? Overhead bins? A fat man?
Then she found it. I’ve found it, she thought. In the photograph, just above the center point (which, she thought, is occupied by someone baring his teeth at something the viewer can’t see), just above, there is a balding man who hasn’t shaved in two days. He is not baring his teeth, but the corners of his mouth turn up slightly anyway. The viewer can only see his head, and he is staring directly at the camera.