Photographic Memory

By
Plip. Plop. Plip. Plop. Plop. Raindrops dripped off the roof onto the feeble jasmine vine bravely surviving on the back fence. Overgrown with weeds and various flowers one could not name, the garden looked both unkempt and dismal yet somehow very green and healthy. Slowly the late afternoon storm died away until only a cloudy sky, wet plants, and the humid July air typical of that city remained. She sat in front of the open sliding door, gazing meditatively at the scene outside, an unfinished letter slipping unnoticed from her fingertips while a seemingly forgotten photo rested in her lap, slightly damp from the humidity and rain.

Beside her sat a dilapidated cardboard box, the lid teetering precariously on one edge. Around both girl and box papers, photos, and other odds and ends lay scattered on the smooth, pale wood floor. On top of it all rested a slender journal opened to an entry exactly seven years before: July 31st, 1998. In the center of the journal lay a folded letter. One of the many-yellowed photographs accompanied it, showing a younger version of the girl standing by a busy street. Her tall frame bent slightly forward as her eyes searched the street, her right arm raised as she tried to hail a taxi. Taken from across the street and at the time unknown to her, the photographer had captured a nearly perfect action shot. Although extremely candid, an artistic air laced the photo, making her long, windswept hair and mismatched clothes somehow blend to create something quite aesthetic.

Suddenly a gust of wind blew through the door, sweeping both the picture and letter across the floor. Both flew out an open window at the opposite side of the room. With a start the girl jumped to her feet and moved as though to stop the papers from escaping completely. But she moved too slowly; the wind carried both down the street and out of sight. Unwilling to let either go, she hastily pulled on her shoes and ran out the door in pursuit of her runaway memories.

Her chase carried her to a park where the neighborhood children liked to play. Jogging ahead, she hopped the low fence circling the park, still focusing on the fluttering picture in front of her. It caught on a bench not too far off and stuck there, flapping crazily like a colorful little flag. As she approached it, another picture from her collection flashed across her memory. In it she sat on this very bench looking up at the sky, her silhouette standing out against the crepuscule—taken by the same photographer, just as candidly and unsuspectingly. She practically leapt the final few steps to the bench; at that exact moment the wind picked up the photo, once more carrying it along its airy current. Exasperated but still determined to reclaim it once more, she sprinted after it, following its crazy pattern as best as she could.

Slowly the heat from the late July day began to wan as the sun made its way towards the horizon. Still she chased after her precious picture—she had long given up on the letter, for it had blown away much faster, and she had no idea where it went. Her little adventure now led her down a winding road dotted with houses, where yet another photo had commemorated another happy memory. This time a group of friends, airborne from a jump they had simultaneously made displayed huge smiles and laughing eyes—taken at the perfect moment, as always; but by then she and the once-mysterious photographer had met and begun a friendship. Again the trademark, understated artistry suffused the photo just like the other two, causing the viewer to want to look at it over and over again without quite knowing why.

She followed the letter away from the quiet residential neighborhoods and onto the one main street of her town. Not many people crowded the sidewalk—this city possessed a fairly relaxed appearance. Even so, she soon began to lose sight of the fleeing picture—something as small as this found many spots to camouflage itself in. Finally she reached a corner where the traffic and noise surpassed that of any other intersection. There the light turned just as she ran up to it; the photo went blissfully onward, now free of its pursuer.

Sighing, the girl turned and reluctantly gave up the chase, completely unaware that the picture had found a resting place on the pavement just across the street. Slowly she turned and walked back down towards a less-crowded crossing, the twilight sun gently warming her back as though to comfort her. Never had she felt this alone since that disastrous argument seven years ago with her closest friend—the one responsible for the strangely captivating pictures, one of which she had just spent a good amount of time chasing after in an attempt to save. Despondently she decided to catch a taxi back—she had no energy left to walk after all that running. Leaning out slightly towards the street to look for an available cab, she raised her arm to signal one. Her short, layered hair blew gently about her face. In a few seconds a taxi stopped by the curb and she hopped in, giving the driver the necessary directions. If she had taken the time to look behind her, she might have seen an old friend standing on the opposite corner, holding in one hand the pursued photo and in the other, a camera with a very similar picture taken only seconds before on the playback screen.

Early the next morning an envelope arrived at her door. She did not recognize the return address. Upon opening it, two almost identical pictures and a scrap of paper fell out. On the paper, written in a script she knew so well read simply, “Autumn, I’m sorry for everything that was said and done. Coffee? ~Soren.”





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Hope_Princess said...
Jul. 15, 2009 at 11:27 pm
That was sooooo cute and captivating, I didn't want it to end! You are such a good writer.
Keep writing!
 
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