Home > Black Hearts (Sins Duet #1)(2)

Black Hearts (Sins Duet #1)(2)
Author: Karina Halle

But it didn’t mean I never thought about it.

A fraud.

A fake.

A liar.

Then again, I’m starting to personally relate.

It’s the end of September and school started a few weeks ago and already I feel over my head, that I’m in a program I don’t belong in, that I’m just pretending. It’s the second year of my photography degree at the Academy of Art University San Francisco and so far it’s a million times harder than I thought it would be. Maybe because the first year of anything is usually the testing period where the weak are weeded out, and I’m starting to think I should have been weeded out in the spring along with the mint in our tiny back garden.

It probably has a lot to do with not measuring up to my mother. She’s a well-respected photographer with a small gallery of artsy portraits in the Mission district. Her work is heavy on depth and shadow, always in black and white, and she manages to get the truth out of the subject. She can be a chameleon sometimes, adjusting her personality to suit the person she’s talking to. I’ve seen it work on me, which is why it’s no surprise that she’s able to get the truth out of her subjects. You can see it in their eyes. She can capture their true selves like no one else can.

And while I think I’ve majorly improved over the years, especially after starting school (I mean they don’t just take anyone), I feel like I’m faking my way through my assignments.

Like this one. My friend Ginny (who is also in my class) and I are supposed to roam the city and take pictures of “absolution.” I know, it’s like total high school photography class bullshit, but it is what it is.

But Ginny is somewhat of a genius, and she’s already snapped a million photos just standing in one spot at Union Square. It’s hot, sunny, and busy as hell, filled with tourists and shoppers alike. There’s nothing even close to absolution here.

She peers at me out of the corner of her eye, not even taking her face away from the camera, her purple winged eyeliner glittering in the sun. “Vi, stop staring at me and take some goddamn pictures.”

I sigh and look around again, the sun making me squint. My over-the-knee boots already feel too hot. I never learn. I live up in the Haight, by Golden Gate Park, and the row house is perpetually shrouded in fog. Every morning I dress like I’m heading out into a frozen cloud, and every afternoon I end up downtown and sweating buckets, hot and itchy. There are a dozen different microclimates in the city and I’m never dressed for the right one.

“Tell me where the absolution is,” I challenge her. “It’s a city of greed.”

Ginny lowers the camera and gives me her driest look. I can feel my soul shrinking away from it. She gives good glare, this one. “And you don’t think greed can lead to absolution?” She motions to the department stores. “Many people are finding their salvation right in there, among the shoes and the jewelry and the buy-one-get-one-free underwear.” She pauses and her withering look turns to an impish one. “Which reminds me, I should stock up. I’ve got another date tonight.”

I take advantage of the distraction and haul Ginny into the store right away. I hate malls and department stores as a rule but the heat is killing me and I’m feeling all kinds of restless and distracted.

Ginny notices. “Are you even listening to me?” she says, holding up a zebra-printed bra. “I told you that Tamara’s favorite print is zebra and you just ignored me like this bra won’t make all the difference in the world.”

I blink and try to focus. For some reason the hairs at the back of my neck are standing up and I’ve got chills, but I’ll get worse than that if I don’t start paying attention to Ginny.

She came out only last year and jokingly refers to herself as the longest closeted queer in San Francisco, even though she’s just a few years older than me. She’s been going kind of wild in the dating scene but recently fell in love with Tamara, a trans woman who’s also a stand-up comic in the Castro. She’s hilarious and sweet, though I think Ginny has fallen for her faster than the other way around. Hence why Ginny’s putting a lot of thought into a zebra-print bra.

“You know, I’d gladly give you advice on what makes your tits look great if only you’d get out there and actually go on a date with someone,” Ginny says, throwing the bra over her shoulder and going back to sorting through the messy rack of lingerie.

“And you know it’s not like I’m not trying. This city sucks for dating,” I remind her. “There’s no one…eligible in class.”

“So then look outside the class.”

I open my mouth to say something but she cuts me off. “Just because it’s art school and we’re in San Francisco doesn’t mean every guy there is gay. Trust me.” Her attention is quickly captured by a turquoise satin bra that matches the streaks in her shaggy blonde hair. “Oooh, I need this one too.”

When I don’t say anything, she adjusts her camera bag and lets out a long sigh. “What about Ben? He has to have hot older friends. He’s pretty hot himself, you know. I’ve learned that hot guys tend to have hot friends.”

I scrunch up my nose. “He does. But they have girlfriends. And they live in Santa Cruz, so even if one of them were single, and I happened to be attracted to them, and it wasn’t weird for Ben, and they happened to be attracted to me, it would be long distance. And there’s the whole fact that I’d be dating one of my brother’s friends and that’s bound to be a problem and a half.”

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