My hair shimmered partly from the glass-like water and partly from the sunset that was saying a pastel goodbye. My mind was projecting a mere image of the last moments I had with my father and what my conscious had predicted my future would be. The smell of the old pines creaking through the wind was music to my ears bringing calmness inside me. To any other it would be unsettling to be out here in the middle of nowhere, but to me it smelled of freedom and rang a sense of excitement. Being alone had been instilled in me from a young age when my father disappeared into thin air, a young father, writer, and amazing teacher---gone. Older now I was learning more about life, learning more about loving the world in such a place of pessimism. The lake is where I came to think, to let off steam. It was this lake that first sparked my creative mindset for photography. Capturing perfect moments made my life worth living.
My mother waited in my childhood home, glimpsed through the dancing reeds, awaiting my presence to make my favorite childhood deserts and talk of the old days when I was home more than once a month. Near to hand, held tight to the damp wood was the Polaroid camera I had pulled from underneath my bed this morning. Between my fingers I held its sharp corners recalling how to capture a moment. I set my eye precisely up to the view finder and held still my breathing while I caught the perfect glimmer of the sunset tinting the surroundings mauve to orange, the woods lining the edges of the picture sliding out of the top of the camera. I slid my ankles from the lukewarm water and dried my toes in the grass, making my way to the blissful smell of cookie dough.
The door swung open and I was greeted with a warm hug followed by the smell of Beautiful. The perfume my mother always wore since I first noticed her scent. We sat across the table talking about memories, future projects, and awards I had only dreamed of receiving. Before I asked if she would like to accompany me to the lake I glanced out the window and saw that the time was far gone. I excused myself from the table and ventured to the small room I had called home years ago. Hidden away in my jean pocket was the picture I had taken not too long ago waiting to be viewed after development. I slipped it out and took a good look, taking in every feature and making it feel as if I was there.
Trailing the sides of the white frame were the woods which didn’t appeal to me as much as the shining lake but a tall dark figure caught my glance. The picture was not the best quality, but I could make out the man standing on the shore watching the sunset with his back turned toward me. Anxiety filled my thoughts; this was private property, no one came around here. I examined the picture once more to make sure I was not mistaken, but still the man stood there amazed at the painted sky, wearing a heavy coat yet the temperature didn’t call for such a thing. Reassuring myself I remembered a camp site not too far out from the lake where campers wander down here often, not knowing where they have come. With that thought I tucked myself in for sleep and mentally prepared myself for the shoot tomorrow, of my new collection Home.
The smell of syrup drizzled pancakes drifted to my room practically guiding me to the kitchen. Today was filled with me and my lenses, so I had to get a fresh start early in the morning. I grabbed the plate and quickly rushed off to the noise of my mother, childishly giggling. While I sat on the dock devouring the fluffy sweetness, I snapped photos of my surroundings. The small barn behind me held a breeding ground for huskies that roamed around freely. The pancakes were hand crafted with all natural ingredients. When my plate was licked clean, I cleaned myself up with the napkin that was held under my plate and went off to work. It was fall here so the trees were colorful and full of life which made perfect scenery for the collection.
While crouching down near a spider web laced in between the porch I felt a warm sense of slobbers on my cheek as Jackie affectionately loved up on me. His bright blue eyes glazing into mine, I longed for his innocence, to be that unaware of a cruel world, to be happy and free with myself. I motioned my hand to signal him to sit and he obeyed the command placing him perfectly in front of me. I bent down and positioned the camera to where Jackie was looking at the camera and the fog over the lake complimented the back ground. The land, the house, the lake, it all screamed of familiarity and made my heart happy. The day was beginning to wear down as I started to head back to the house for the end of my shoot.
Mother greeted me at the door, “Claire, when you are done editing, can you meet me in the kitchen for dinner?”
I nodded in agreement as I took the SD card from the camera to see what all I captured. Picture after picture I saw my childhood flash before my eyes, compelling me to reminisce on the days of my youth. Yet in these recent pictures a familiar being was placed in the most unusual places. On the lake side a figure stood, unidentified but shown in every snap I had taken today. My mind traveled back to the Polaroid taken yesterday the same person placed in all my other shots. Fear struck me; I worried for my mother’s sake, for my sake. I got up knowing that I had to alert my mother, but before I left the room she met me at the doorway. “Have you seen the jacket hanging by the door way? I just noticed it was gone” she said in a concerning voice. In the silence before I told her of the John Doe, a knock came from the door. Her eye brows knitted together because company was rare here. Side by side we made our way to the door and turned the handle to find a beautifully lit sky, full of stars, and a moon accompanying them in their brightness.
No one was in sight but there was a letter left on the door mat, sealed shut and perfectly symmetrical. We looked at each other, both confused. The sound of rippling water broke our glances and we saw a small canoe rowing away across the lake. I started to yell out at the person, but I felt a hand grab my wrist. My mother’s eyes were like glass waiting to break, a smile spread across her face. “It is him honey, he’s wearing the jacket.” She said with a shaky voice. I took one more look out to the lake as I watched my father disappear into the night, like once before.