Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Kind of Murder That's Not a Crime

They Say It's Better to Be Traveling Than To Arrive

Shadows lengthen. Days shorten.

The wet sidewalks groan under the weight of the trucks.

And traffic slows on the overpass. As it always has. Maybe as it always will.

The tree that once was sick got better, grew taller, then died from root rot.

These things happened.

She almost always had a camera strapped around her neck.

Back before digital, back when there was film. And shutter speed, lens opening, and developing labs.

When it took days or a week to see the finished photos. Not 60 minutes or less.

She saw moments. Saw actions and stories. When we all just saw a blurry mass of life.

She'd come in with the camera, snap pictures quickly, then slip out the back.

But when we saw the photos, we were amazed.

They showed things we hadn't noticed. Or hadn't looked at carefully enough.

We almost never recognized the moment, but we always recognized the feeling.

And the feeling was always perfect.

Until Senior Year, when she stopped photographing anything for a month.

And then would only photograph this one guy. In a band. He played guitar. Horribly.

And the photos that had once seemed so truthful and real now were obvious, staged, and devoid of feeling.

But she wasn't. She was suddenly happy. Madly in love.

They went everywhere together. And she stopped obsessively carrying the camera.

She thought she'd die when he went to Europe for a few months.

She started carrying the camera again. But couldn't bring herself to take any more photos.

Except one.

A self-portrait. (It won an award. You've probably seen it.)

She set the camera on a tripod. Looked once through the viewfinder.

That was enough. She knew what she wanted. Knew what it was she needed to capture.

And she pressed the button.

Walked without hurry into the shot.

Her arm stretched north. Up. Towards... something.

Her legs stretched south. Down. As if readying.

It was perfect. A moment. Frozen in the lens. Framed and frozen on the wall.

Frozen for us. By her.

She wound the film up. Took it out of the camera. Left both camera and film for the yearbook staff.

And walked out to catch a plane to Madrid and start the rest of her life.

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