Become a Fan
By Sandra Lee Novelly
Monday, May 12, 2003
Do all photographs really depict the truth?
Handing over the requested amount, I picked up the envelope of pictures. I was loath to express my dismay. I was certain the clerk would have thought me insane had I voiced my opinion.
Unaware of the scenery, one foot stepping in front of the other like an automaton, I made my way across the parking lot. The blare of a horn and a shouted “Watch it, idiot,” from a passing car brought me back to the present.
Whose pictures were these and what had happened to mine?
Sinking into the seat of my car, I withdrew the pictures from the packet with all the caution of a snake handler charming a wily cobra. Thumbing through the stack, I viewed the individuals depicted upon each paper square, their joy frozen for all time - or at least until the images faded.
Who were these happy people? Did I know them? In what house did they live? On what perfect street? Look at that happy couple - his eyes on her, her eyes worshipping him as she gazed into his face. Their smiles added to the sunshine of an ideal day. No clouds threatened the blue sky that overspread their bliss.
Gaze at the folks surrounding them - neighbors, friends and family who had joined them for a celebration. Glance at the upraised arms in whose hands were held glasses containing a toast to the occasion. See the sign - what did it say? Happy Anniversary. Ah, yes.
The cotton candy sweetness of each photograph carried with it the threat of losing the bile that filled my throat. At length, I opened the door and leaned over. Again and again the sourness spewed onto the ground until my aching insides could produce nothing more than agonizing heaves.
Shaky, I sat up and rummaged through my bag, blindly searching its contents for a breath mint. I found one; stuck it in my mouth. It cooled the soft tissues, soothed the burning and dispelled the acrid taste.
How I wished I could return to the store and demand my money back, or at the very least regain the pictures that were truly mine.
Those pictures would show angry eyes locked in battle after a revealing phone call interrupted the commemoration. They would illustrate a day threatened by storm clouds massing overhead as lightning singed gray-green skies and the air rang with the thunder of harsh words. They would reveal shocked faces as neighbors, friends and family scattered like windblown leaves before the fury. Those photographs would indicate a festive sign trampled underfoot as innocence vanished.
Once I reached the highway, I began tossing those deceptive images out of the window, one by one, to fly away on the breeze like the loss of my love. The radio played, “Faded photograph, covered now with lines and creases… Traces of love that didn’t work out right…©”
Who cared? The pictures were not mine anyway.
© Buddy Buie, James Cobb and Emory Gordy
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