Jesus walked on the water. It was low tide, and Julia took pictures. His body was reflected in the tide pools, a young shirtless, barefoot man in faded jeans.
They’d already done the tuxedo shoot, and now it was time to showcase Jesus in nature, as a robust, versatile man, as much at home in denim as in black tie. Julia admitted he seemed to belong on the beach, to the beach, as much as the driftwood or sand crabs or kelp. She called out to him: Take off the jeans!
It was early morning and the shadows were long, and the sunlight caught the fine hairs on his legs and arms. She took a series of shots, then called him to have a look.
He looked over her shoulder at the digital images, still naked, unconcerned, comfortable, focused on the photographs. They were good.
Jesus just shrugged. “Look good to me,” he said, “You’re the expert.” And he grinned, and Julia realized she needed more face shots, with more grins, and they set up an appointment for first thing in the morning.
Meanwhile, he invited Julia, to her surprise, to a barbecue at his home that evening. “Salmon,” he said. “My brother is a fisherman. Please come. It is just family and a few friends. I want to thank you.”
He kissed her on both cheeks, and they got into their separate cars and left the beach.
Julia fretted about what to wear, whether she was expected to bring a date, or was Jesus interested in her as more than a friend?– and started to dread the evening. She put on a strappy sundress, went alone, and kept expectations low. She took a chilled bottle of Pinot Gris, which she liked with fresh fish.
Jesus was wearing those same frayed jeans that he’d worn that morning on the shore, but with a crisp white shirt and a tie, the tie loosened. Julia wanted to take some pics– she had one of the digital cameras in her bag –but she resisted. This was a social occasion. Wasn’t it?
His house was modest, with white-painted wood siding, and the back garden was barely large enough for ten or so guests Jesus had invited. He introduced her to his sister, and to a couple of other model friends, who Julia knew already, and liked. They got cold drinks and she watched the festivities, her eyes constantly drawn to Jesus, even though she was a serious professional in a serious field, and intended to regard him as nothing more than the client and friend that he was. It wasn’t just the way he looked that attracted her. It was the way he looked at her, at everyone.
Whole plump salmon, three of them, were set out on a platter of ice on the side table next to the barbecue; beautiful, shiny and fresh, and enough for generous portions for all the guests. Julia was hungry. Her mouth watered. Jesus’ brother brushed the salmon with oil, seasoned them generously with salt and pepper, threw them on the barbecue, and layered fresh lemons on the top. But just as the fish started to sizzle on the grill, there was a sudden blast of noise. Loud voices and shouting, originating in the garden next door to Jesus’s house. Then about thirty people spilled from the neighbour’s garden into Jesus’ back yard.
Several of the people in this boisterous crowd, intoxicated as much by the big wedding they had just attended as with the wine they had consumed at the wedding, embraced Jesus with gusto.
He invited them all to stay, to join everyone in enjoying fresh fish, caught by his brother, and barbecued on the grill with slices of lemon.
Three whole salmon, forty people.
It was cosy and a little too warm in the garden, and so many people, but the grass was cool and damp, and Julia slipped out of her sandals, as Jesus had done, and after she’d eaten a perfectly cooked serving of salmon, moist and lemony, she circulated among the guests, who seemed to be in the same state of strange euphoria that she was.
There was no point in denying it any longer. She thought about her work, about the photographs. She thought about happiness. She watched Jesus, to see who he favoured, and who he avoided. Julia had really known, in her heart, since they’d first met that day in her office.
She wanted to be with Jesus.