Friday 18 January 2013

#FridayFlash - Polaroids

Angela hated having her photo taken. Will dated her for sixteen months, and didn't capture a single image. He'd tried taken them when she slept, and even then she'd turn at the last moment, leaving only a blurred shadow on the camera. Even her online profile photo was a caricature she'd drawn herself on rainy Tuesday afternoon.

Will stared out of the window, watching the last of the mourners depart, and for the first time since he'd met her, he found himself wishing he had just one photograph.

A pile of mementos lay on the table, assembled by her friends and family to celebrate the life cut short by a drug-encrusted driver. Will glanced at the assorted books and knick knacks, unsure what to do with them. He appreciated the gesture, but they'd hardly bring Angela back.

Agent Smith clambered up onto the table; the fuzzy Calico sent the pile of books sliding onto the floor in his quest to stick his head into Will's mug. Will grabbed the cat and pulled him onto his lap. Agent Smith looked up at him, that same questing expression on his face.

"Sorry, old man, she's not coming back. Just you and me now."

He scratched the cat's head. Agent Smith stood up on Will's chest and rubbed his head against Will's chin.

"I just wish I had one photo, you know? It sounds stupid...but I'm scared I'll forget what she looks like. Sorry...looked like."

Agent Smith mewed his support. He leapt down from Will's lap and skidded across the pile of fallen books. The largest, a huge tome compiled by Angela's wizened old aunt, fell open. Its heavy cover thudded against the carpet. A Polaroid flapped loose, and skated towards Will. He picked it up, and held it to the waning light.

A young woman filled the centre of the frame, one hand held up to block the camera. The palm covered her face but it was Angela - it had to be. Will recognised her top, and the choppy brown hairstyle. Her aunt must have sneaked in a photo while rampaging around a family event with that dratted Polaroid camera of hers.

Will smiled, and tears pricked his eyes. He still couldn't see her face, but he had a photo. He couldn't forget her now.

A flicker of movement caught his eye. He peered more closely at the photo, watching as the hand covering the face lowered out of the shot. Angela stared out at him. Will yelped and dropped the photo. Agent Smith ambled across the floor and sniffed it. Angela waved, and the cat yowled, streaking across the room to hide behind the sofa.

Will picked up the photo by its corners, careful not to touch the window containing Angela. She didn't return his smile - an unfamiliar scowl adorned her face.

"Hiya, love." Will felt stupid talking to a photo, but he also felt like he needed to say something.

Angela crossed her arms over her chest and the scowl deepened.

"Sorry, love, I don't know what to do."

Angela moved towards him, a glare in her eyes and a snarl on her lips, and Will stifled the urge to flinch. She reached the flimsy barrier of the Polaroid and hammered her fists against an invisible shield. The photo flapped from Will's fingers, swinging back and forth from the weight of her fury.

Will slipped the Polaroid back into the book and slammed it shut. The heavy cover didn't move, and Will risked a sigh of relief. He pushed the book under the sofa and left the room, followed by Agent Smith. He led the cat into the kitchen, and leaned back against the counter. The remains of the buffet lay on foil platters, covered in clingfilm, and Will crumpled into a heap in front of the washing machine.

He tried to think of his Angela as he remembered her, laughing at old movies and skipping through fresh snow. When he closed his eyes, all he could see was Angela's glare. He'd never seen that side of Angela before, possessed by anger, but he couldn't shake an old feeling, one he'd often wondered about whenever Angela refused to have her photo taken.

After all, the camera never lied.


John Wiswell said...

I've talked to photos before. Had a great friend, Dan Loden, who died some years ago. Kept a photo of his over my desk for months afterward and would ask it about the big things I was working on, generally to figure out what his thoughts would have been. The emulation you can get out of a photo is tangible.

Sulci Collective said...

This is me and photos exactly. Don't own a camera, not even on my phone. Always try and duck having mine taken. Not quite the primitive's belief that it will steal my soul, but something along that line more than mere false vanity. Even with kids of my own, I could never imagine any occasion for whipping out a photo album. I know what they look like!

I'm totally with Angela on this one

marc nash

Anonymous said...

Now you've got me tripping. So cool and a whole lot of fun. Wonder what the future will make of all our selfies?
Adam B @revhappiness

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

I love the name Agent Smith for a cat!
Slice of life, horror and humour all in one

Icy Sedgwick said...

John - I don't really take photos of people. Maybe I should start.

Marc - My dad turns into a ninja when there's a camera around.

Adam - I think my future self would be cross with the current me.

Maria - It had to be done!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Angela - I absolutely abhor having my picture taken, though I've no idea why. Unfortunately my sister carries a camera with her everywhere and there's not escaping her.
I wonder what's going to happen to Wil now? Will Angela get out of that photo and show him her 'true' spirit?

Eric J. Krause said...

Excellent story! Love the last line. And the name Agent Smith for the cat.

Larry Kollar said...

Sounds like there was a dark side to Angela that Will hadn't discovered in 16 months. I wonder if she'll get out of that photo; and if so, what happens next (like, poltergeist, man?).

Loved your pic for the story. I recognized you behind the palm. I always enjoy your self-portraits.

Tony Noland said...

The eyes are the window to the soul... I guess that holds true for cameras capturing the soul, too.

FWIW, I got over the "I look pretty dumb in pictures" thing a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

We only let people see what we want them to see. Poor Angela, and poor Will.

Katherine Hajer said...

That last line gave me a physical shiver. Loved this.

I both mind and don't mind having my photo taken. I don't like "snaps", because they're almost always badly posed and unflattering. "Photos" are something else again.

I nominated you for a Liebster award:

Helen A. Howell said...

That's a good story - loved the end!

Anonymous said...

Communicating from behind the sheen of a polaroid - I may never look at a photo in the same way again.

Steve Green said...

I thought Angela was just camera-shy, it turns out she had a slightly more sinister reason for avoiding the lens.

Chilling story icy.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Deanna - I don't mind having my photo taken but I like to be in control of the results before they go online!

Eric - Thanks!

Larry - Nah, that's not me. She's thinner than me, for a start.

Tony - Some of the myths surrounding photography are fascinating. It's just the capturing of light, after all.

Danni - It's Will I feel most sorry for, I think. But then I know what happens next!

Katherine - I'm really good at dodging snaps, but I don't mind posing if I'm asked to.

Helen - Thanks!

Gail - I miss Polaroids.

Steve - Yep...might explore that reason next week.

Carrie Clevenger said...

I liked this one, especially with Angela reacting in the photo. Don't take my picture. Heh.

Anonymous said...

I love the name of the cat (nicely Weaving'd into the story..), and I love the idea of the polaroid swinging as she pumps her fists!

KjM said...

Oh my! So, the old story about a camera capturing more than just our photo might have some truth to it.

The story led this reader along a gentle, if melancholy slope, turned a pleasant corner and then plunged into an abyss. Beautifully done is such a short piece.

Anonymous said...

You listed this as "horror" and I was wondering where that element was going to appear. I'm thinking she is angry because she was angry when the photo was taken and that is not the woman he wants to remember. I'm with her on that: everyone seems bent on rushing to take a picture these days. Often, those people miss actually seeing anything at all.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Carrie - She is severely camera shy!

Jack - Thanks!

Kevin - Well I like to think all of these stories begin with a grain of truth...

Justin - Ha, I did wonder if that might throw people, but I wasn't sure what else to classify it as.

Virginia Moffatt said...

Ooh that's a bit Dorian Gray isn't it? All her anger caught in the photo, shame it's blotting out the real memories now...Or is that part of the point? Our memories are much better than a photo?

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