I didn't go back to show that woman my portfolio for the photography job. I figure that the only reason she would be so unbelievably disdainful towards another woman whom she had never met, would be because she was in love with the previous post-holder.
I bet he was a man in his forties (or maybe a bit older) but who seemed fairly hot to a woman in her fifties (or maybe a bit older). I can see him in his leather jacket- probably brown- one of those weather-beaten ones that looks like it's been everywhere with you "and boy, have i been everywhere". I bet he was the kind of guy who made women attracted to him, not because he was especially attractive or even a good person to be with, but just because he believed himself to have that power.
A communal darkroom is a space that is bursting with awkward moments that lend themselves to interpretation. That red or amber light that you work under, the silence of people concentrating on their own calculations, the repeated and rhythmic movements from enlarger to chemicals. The swish swish of the liquids and the tapping of the prints at the ends of the tray.
His pupils will have admired him- such a contrast to their suburban experience. He hints of previous lives that involve travelling, dedicating himself to his work and make for interesting anecdotes during the class.
But she had a different relationship with him. As centre manager, it was she who gave him the work. She was impressed by his confidence, and with the stories that were attached to his photographs of places he had visited and of the things he had chosen to record. Of course she said he would be perfect for the job. He made jokes with her and made her feel as though she were not as angry as she usually was. She looked forward to Tuesday evenings more than she should. She found herself thinking about what she was wearing on those days, and undoubtedly making a little more effort. Just a touch more make-up, an extra piece of jewellery.
At closing-up time there was always something in the air. There was a hesitation when it came to leaving that she felt was mutual. It would be unprofessional of her to initiate anything, but if he were to ask her: that would be a completely different matter. She tried to communicate this with her voice, her manner and her actions but perhaps she was being too subtle. In the two years that he worked for her, she came to be attached to this ritual. It was comfortingly familiar and she never ceased to give up hope that one day he would ask her.
Then he announced the news that he had been offered a full time post in one of the colleges. It was as though the desk behind which she sat had lurched backward straight into her stomach. He was pacing around in obvious excitement and it took all she could muster to think of an appropriate response. She couldn't even remember what she had said afterwards, but it was of no consequence to him, such was his triumph that he had finally received his just desserts. She would have liked to have stood and shook his hand, but she could not.
When he finally left the room to begin the lesson, she was numb. She was at once numb and destroyed. She could not narrate her feelings, but knew that without this there was only a huge gaping hole. The only way that she could fill this hole, was to begin, angrily and immediately, to advertise the vacant post.