Friday, June 04, 2021

short story Shadows in the Lens

 It began several years ago, the white shadows. I would see them, walking across the room - from here to there, every day, the same ones, shadows of a past gone by. I began to realize, the older the place, the more populated it had been, the greater the number of shadows. In some places, they were stacked on each other so deep it was like looking through a London Fog. 

For example, the airport. The first time I had to go through O'Hare to get to a plane they thought I was having a panic attack. I don't know how I made it through - mostly by following the feet of the people in front of me. When they called our plane, I knew the number, and it was only by luck and chance that the man and woman who jumped up and began to run for the other gate were really going the same place I was. The plane was not old, but while it was on the ground the shadows continued to walk through, around, and up and down. When we left into the air, things cleared. When we landed, I was so glad to have someone there to pick me up and take me home. 

Now, I actually have to employ someone to walk me through the crowded places. I bring a cane, and dark glasses. Sometimes they are in the know, and sometimes they really think that my panic attacks render me blind. But mostly, I try to find the quiet places - the out of the way places, where few have come before. It isn't an easy life, trying to photograph the beauty through what is invisible to most - to see only through my camera lens that which, when I view it with the naked eye, is nearly obscured. 


I guess that is why I have thrown myself into my work so completely, and why it has shown in the sheer number of awards that I have now raked in. 'Most Remote Photograph of the Year', yes - that's me. 'To Go where None have Gone Before', yes, I'd love to. For someone who once was so entranced by history, by the bright lights, the stages and the exuberance of life, now I seek solace, vast empty spaces and the quiet of the midnight and dawning hours in the places where most would have been asleep and dreaming. 

 Perhaps I am dreaming all of this. It is hard to prove that Mr. Alistair came down these stairs one night at two a.m., and yet, I see him - just once - carrying the lantern. It is hard to know or investigate who the little girl is running up the mountain path, on this farm that has been abandoned for a hundred years - or that she also sits on the beach down there by the rocks, huddled against some storm that no one remembers. 

Perhaps one day I will wake up and there will be no fog in the social places, no strange things to catch the corner of my eye when a reporter is asking their questions on the phone, no mysteries that I really do not wish to solve. 

Tomorrow I will take these bandages off and we will see if the surgery has made any difference at all. I am ready to wake up from this dream into a new day. But if I stop seeing the past, what will I do with my future? If I see nothing at all, will I have a future? If I start seeing the future, will it be black or blindingly white? //fiction -- first draft, thoughts floating through my mind today

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