The Photographer

(Based on an ancient myth)

It had been over an hour and maybe I decided it was time I summed it up “I think I am loosing it.” “Loosing! what?” The 68 year old man sitting upright on the chair in front of me calmly enquired. It was the weirdest case he had ever handled.

I am Tony Bishoff, a 24 year old engineer and a part time photographer. Dr. Levington Fields was my physiatrist, or as I referred him my ‘shrink’. He was the only one who had heard of it from me. I have always known that if I hide something maybe it is because I am embarrassed by it. This was not one of those things.

“You know what I am talking about.” I added with a stare. “I have felt it. Its leaving me. I have done it many times before but it no longer feels the same.” I continued.

I felt the hardest thing for Dr. Fields was that I was more than just a patient. I was his nephew and his most favorite one at that too.

The next few minutes flew past. As I got up to leave I opened the door and turned back and in a mist of deja vu added “I promise you I am not lying.”

The next stop was the coffee shop, Sophia was waiting for me there. Sophia is my fiancée. The most painful thing for me was to hide it from her for so long, but today was the day.

Sophia, what can I tell you about her. They say that nobody is perfect in the world until you fall in love with them, well… she was perfect. I don’t remember the first time I met her but I do remember that it was in a photography class. That class changed my life in two ways, one was Sophia and the other was what I wanted to tell Sophia today.

I rehearsed again and again what I was going to tell her. I had not done that in a long time. The last time I remember was on the same way to the coffee shop. I remember that like yesterday…..

The moment of truth was there. We had finished ordering and I just did not know to start. I had been planning this all week. I was good with deadlines and today was my deadline. She knew I was nervous and probably she even knew what I wanted to say. At that time for some reason, putting your self at the mercy of another sounded exciting.

I was once told that the eyes are like lie detectors. I knew it was true and that’s why I avoided eye contact whenever I spoke. The lines were getting fumbled in my mind and I thought what the heck.

“Sophia…” she smiled as if to say “finally…” “Its been 5 years since I have known you.” She was now closer to the table. “I don’t know how to say this. I will try to do justice to myself and you. In these five years I have known you I have been through a lot. I always told you it never made sense. But lately it just makes sense.” I was sounding like only I could

“And I did not know why until now. Its because of you. I can’t explain it but…” At this moment I lost all connections between my head and my tongue. “I don’t know how to say this and I don’t know why but…. I care. The weird part I have never cared for someone so much. I love life and everything about it but without you it seems so…..futile.” She decided to help me out and looked into my confused eyes and added with a smile “I love you too.”

Today was going to be different. She had no idea what I was going to tell her. I would be lucky if she thought I was still sane.

As I walked by there was a Chinese couple trying to take a photo. The lady looked at me and caught me looking back. “Caan youu pleeze help uz by takingh a picture of uz.” She said pointing to the camera on her hand.

A digital camera, this damn thing almost took out the fun in photography. I was basically a nature photographer but the features of a digital camera could make a amateur claim that he had a new hobby. The real fun in Photography was lost in time and most people had no idea how to load a film, it was now a ‘memory stick’.

I remember in one of the hobby classes I took a student kept complaining that all his photos had the “red eye” effect. I had to spend an entire hour explaining that it was a more biological phenomenon. When light from the flash hits the retina of the eye, it is reflected back into the lens and onto the film. But this light hits the blood on the back of the eye hence causing the reddish tint.

It seemed odd but not many understood what a photo did. In pure scientific terms a photo is created when a chemical reaction occurs due to light falling on a photographic film. The shutter of the camera exposes the film to the light for a fraction of a second. Well the speed of light does make multiple exposures when the film is exposed, this causes the blurry pictures when in motion as beams of light from different sources… in this case angles strikes the film.

In a more philosophical way, a photograph is far more. It captures a moment and extends it for more than its allotted time of existence. A photograph provides one point of view of the universe for a really long time. I have always loved this definition more. Maybe because it opens a plethora of possible theories.

This concept is far more deep rooted than what meets the eye. Lets say we take a picture of a star. This photo is unique for many reasons. For one when light left the star the camera which captured it did not exist. A photo can keep a moment alive for a really long time… A photo by this definition shows life.

She was looking at me, staring could be the right word. I picked up my cup and took a sip of the coffee. I had just told her about photos and theories surrounding it. “This was what you wanted to tell me?”, she kept staring. “Emma is waiting, you know how badly she wanted to go to the amusement park. I will talk to you over dinner.”, she got up to leave. “Just a second I am not finished.” I put my cup down and touched her hand. “Ok then finish it fast”, she was sitting again.

Emma, Dr. Field’s grand daughter. Charming polite sweet and plain adorable only started to explain her. Sophie’s best friend had a new plan everyday, today it was the amusement park. How do I describe Emma to you. Think of the most adorable girl you have ever seen… that is Emma.

“Ok this is going to sound weird. But bear with me. As I was saying, Photos show life. But they show life only because…” I looked in her eyes to make her believe in me “They can store life…”

She slowly raised her eyebrows and took a deep breadth to prepare herself to tell me she thought I was insane. I interrupted her before she could say anything. “In many cultures, it is believed that a picture can steal a part of the soul.” I was speaking softly now. “That is why only kings had statues made of themselves. It provided a simple way to be immortal. The same reason is why idol worship exists. That’s why having a picture of someone they love makes them feel closer to them.” She looked really confused. What I was going to tell her now was plain going to scare her.

“Remember the Photography class accident…”
“Just when we started dating? Yeah, how can I forget that! You still don’t remember what happened that day do you.”
“All I know is after that day I was changed.” I paused for a breath. “I could see life…. Life in photos.” She had that totally lost look.
“Every thing about those beliefs… just made sense, a lot of sense. They were no longer just static images… I could see bright light in them.”

“I went and got my eyes checked.” I chuckled “Even got a cat scan done but there was nothing.” I was now looking at her hand in mine. Without looking up I added “ Have you ever felt unique… like you were meant to be here for a reason. Like the universe is a puzzle just waiting for you to solve it…”

We sat there for an hour and I remember, speaking and just speaking. It was like a confession long due. I didn’t realize it but she was scared when I mentioned that I could feel the life in photos.

I still remember the first day I did it. It was my grandma and she was dying. I stood by the bed, I was the only one she wanted to see. She tried to speak but it was clear she knew that her time was up. She gave me a photo of her holding me just after I was born. As I held her hand I realized the irony of it. In one hand I held a body dying to use the last bits of life and on the other hand I had caged life waiting to be let out. In an instant it happened. I had my eyes closed as a tear tricked down, when I opened them I could not believe what I saw. The photo in my hand was blank where my grandma was and she was looking at me with a smile on her face. The doctors called it a miracle and said she would live at least a few more years without any problems.

It took me a few hours to truly understand what I had done. In a way I had returned life to its true home. Over time I began to understand my abilities, every one of my grandma’s photos had became blank at the same instant. All of them were linked in a supernatural way. Then again what was supernatural and what is natural.

Isn’t it true that people considered an eclipse an act of god? Yes, it was a long time ago but the rules keep changing. Now we know that an eclipse is just an astronomical occurrence. I began to believe that some time down the line my power would be explainable in some form of relativity or something to do with wormholes ect. I would be lying if I said I was sure it would happen in my life time. Over the ages I have realized that people are scared of what they cannot explain. That’s why witches were burned at a stake. Galileo was told to change the results of his experiments. Maybe I feared the worst so I kept it a secret.

It took me a lot of courage to tell it to uncle and by the response I knew he did not believe it. I continued visiting the hospital and helping all the people I could find. But now it seems to be eluding me. The magical feeling has almost gone and I believe I have the power to save just once.

She had left and she had hardly believed a word I said. But she knew I believed every word I had just uttered. She told me she wanted some time to think about it.

*****

I hate the smell of hospitals. It for some reason reminds me of death and I can get nauseas in seconds. Hospital hallways make me claustrophobic. I hate being in a hospital its rarely good news.

I had sprinted half the way and was gasping for breath. “Room 403” The nurse I had asked the question to just turned her head as if pointing. It was the third room to the left. The pale green tint of the walls was not adding to the comfort. As I entered the room Dr. Fields came out with the doctor. The doctor looked at me and back at uncle and asked “Is he Mr. Bishoff”. Uncle nodded….

Have you ever had the feeling as if someone knocked the wind out of your lungs without touching you? As if someone was drowning you in air and more harder you try to breathe the more tougher it is to do. Her hand was in my hand. I kissed it and a tear trickled down my eye. Moments ago the doctor had told me that the two most important people in my life were going to die within the hour. They had apparently been in an accident.

Emma was in the next room. She was gasping for every little breath she could make. Sophie just lied there, unknowing what lied ahead for her.

The ring in my hand was making my palm sweat. The dinner was almost over and I had not said it yet. She had suspected something earlier but I was a master at changing the topic and had distracted her. The words were there and still I could not get myself to say it. This was not supposed to happen, I had to have given her the ring by now. I just said to my self ‘you do it in the next minute or you don’t do it at all.’ I was great with deadlines. I gently held her hand, got up and moved to her side. She was still seated. I got on one knee. She knew it by now, “Sophie… I spend my entire day waiting to spend a moment with you and the rest of the day just thinking about you. You are the reason I wake up in the morning smiling. You are the reason I smile all day. You make me feel special. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want you to be the mother of my children. I want to grow old with you and die a moment before you.” I thought I saw a tear in her eye. “Will you honor me and be my wife.”

My eyes opened and I was looking at the pale green walls of the hospital again. The last few minutes flashed back and the bitterness of the reality came back.

I could hear my uncle sob in the next room. Then my train of thought returned…I looked down and in my hand I held a photo. The photo was of the two most important people in my life. I could see two bright lights on the photo…

-HAAS

  • Haas, It was wonderful to c u enact this in ur presentation. Only you could do justice to what you wrote. I loved this story after “The Question”. I am glad u guys did a play on this :)

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