by Fran Pacchiano
I’d never seen a naked woman before, at least not in person. With my charcoal poised and paper smoothed, I told myself it wouldn’t be so bad. Focus on the curves. It’ll be like one of those body appreciation TikToks. #bodypositive #womenofart
When the model entered, my blood went cold. He stood at the front of the room and took off his shirt. His skin sagged and wrinkled over a protruding potbelly. Liver spots mixed with white hairs tangled on his chest. The charcoal in my hand shook violently and speckled the paper with dark crumbs. The pants went next, thrown on the shirt in a heap. I hoped, prayed, and silently pleaded that he would stop there.
He took off his socks. The skin around his ankles indented with the ribbed pattern of the fabric. His toenails, yellowed and unkempt, had grown vertically. Soft scribbles filled the room. I struggled to breathe. He tucked his thumbs into the waistband of his grey briefs and pushed down.
And then, feet splayed, he squatted. Limp, purple, and completely exposed. He waited as if bored. My head spun and I tried to quell a gag. Someone snickered.
The guy beside me, his portrait already taking shape, whispered to his friend, “Thank God it’s a man.”
Fran Pacchiano is the mom friend of the group. She became the artistic director of GOOEY with experience from a past job where she’d lied on her resume and googled the answers. She aspires to be a little old lady in a house at the end of the street who gives cookies to children, and who grows oleander flowers for her bees.