“They call you what?” Dec asked with a raise of the brow. He checked over his camera’s case to make sure he had everything he needed. The last thing he needed right now was to leave anything behind. Or maybe it was the first thing he needed. With care, he switched his cellphone from one shoulder to the other, cradling it to his ear as he zipped the camera case closed.

“You heard me.”

“Auggie? Isn’t that a cartoon dog?”

“Shut up, Dec.

“Yeah, yeah.”

Why did their parents think it was a great idea to name them after their birthdays? Well, on the up side, it meant that it made their birthdays easier to remember–provided people knew their middle names. Dec did pretty much anything in his power to keep that secret.

“You should really give them a call though, August.” Silence on the other end–but the kind of silence that spoke volumes. Dec sighed as he slipped his camera bag over his head and brought the phone back up to his ear. Still nothing?

“Come on. How long are you going to hold it against them that they’re… well, you know. Themselves?”

“Look. Now’s not the time or place for this,” August said, sounding weary of the topic. Dec could just see him rolling his eyes. Hell, he could practically hear it over the phone. “Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how things were going and see what was new with you. Sounds like things are basically the same.”

“Pre-etty much.”

Dec stopped to look around the studio. The photoshoot was over and he was the only one left, trailing behind everybody else. The models were long gone, of course, their managers and friends ushering them away with promises of new jobs or celebratory drinks. And the rest of the crew had either cleared out or were taking a break before they did, too.

“Anyway, I saw your last shoot in my girlfriend’s magazine.”

“Uh-huh. You bought it and you’re just using her as a cover.”

His brother laughed and just like that, the tension seemed to melt away.

“Yeah. Sure. I do it just to stroke your ego. But yeah! I think you’re getting really good. Like… I think you should be able to do more than magazines, you know?”

“There’s not really much that gets bigger than these magazines. I like having models and those people who put out books are more landscape and travel photographers. Or… abstract, I guess. I like what I’m doing. Fashion. You know. And models. Nothing’s more expressive than a human. Their face. Their body.”

“All right, all right. Don’t get all artsy fartsy on me. Listen, I gotta go. I’m meeting Leah in a few. But I’ll talk to you later. And next time, don’t hold out on me. If I have to find out from my girlfriend one more time that you’ve done another shoot–!”

Dec smirked. August had no idea he just did a shoot. But it didn’t matter–the thing wouldn’t be out until they edited the life out of the photos. That was probably one of the most annoying parts about his job. The photoshoppers were more valuable to the magazines than he was.

“I’ll talk to you later, Auggie.

“Bye, December Eleven.”

“Hey–!” But before he could counter with his brother’s full name, August hung up. “Asshole.”

Rachel Aseltine

R.A. Aseltine is an author and roleplayer living in California with her husband, guinea pig, and five cats.

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