A Flash Of Life

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Just a story I wrote a while back, and all my friends liked... what do you think? Comments are appreciated on all my work. :)

Submitted: April 06, 2007

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Submitted: April 06, 2007

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A Flash of Life

As I stood at my first photography display, I couldn’t help but think of my mother. She was the one, after all, who inspired my deep love of photography. People swarmed around me, and complimented my work. I was at a standstill, the night moving fast and slow at the same time. My mother’s face was in my mind, as clear as the detailed photos on the wall.

My mother was one of those independent single mothers who loved her child more then anything. When I was younger, she would snap pictures constantly on her camera. I hated it at first. “Why should I smile when I don’t even feel happy?” I would grumble. She would just flash her lovely smile and tell me to pose anyway. We had photo albums all over the house, she cropped and snipped constantly, smiling at all the places we’d been and things we’d done. Eventually I became used to the camera at her side almost all the time. I appreciated my mom a little bit more, when one day I had my best friend Lindsey over.

“Lisa, aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” Mom asked with her motherly smile. I made the introductions grudgingly, wanting to take Lindsey to my room. But they hit it off immediately, talking about photography, of all things! I impatiently tapped my foot, but neither of them took notice. Lindsey was now looking through our photo albums with delight.

“Oh, Ms. Lawrence! These are fantastic! I wish my mom made these…. But she’s an alcoholic, you see. She doesn’t care about that sort of thing, so I have no record of my life. It’s kind of like walking around knowing who you are but not knowing where you’ve been. You’re so lucky Lisa, to know that your mom cares.” And with that Lindsey burst into tears. My mom held her and told her she would lend her the supplies to start her own scrapbook. I finally realized what a great mom I had, and it had taken thirteen years to come to this conclusion.

The next morning, after Lindsey had gone home, I took my cup of tea and sat down across from her at the kitchen table. We were tea people, as my mom said. Every single morning she had her cup of earl gray with no sugar and a little bit of milk, and I had my French vanilla with milk and sugar. We always talked over tea too, and that morning was no exception.

“Hey, Mom?” I was hesitant about the usual morning chatter today. I wanted to discuss the one subject I usually despised, and I was terribly afraid she would call me out on my hypocrisy.

“Yes?” she seemed to feel the tension pulsating out of me, and encouraged me by brushing back her red hair to give me a better look at her eyes. They showed she would not be unforgiving.

“Umm… what do you like best about photography?” I mumbled it and winced, waiting for the angry tone. Mom was completely understanding though, she was truly glad I was interested in something new. She wasn’t like other moms, and for the first time in my life I wasn’t embarrassed of her. To this day I’m not even sure if she heard my question, because she didn’t answer it. She just started talking about photography. Just talking; and I could tell by how animated her eyes were that she truly loved it.

“Lisa, photography is different for every person. For me it’s how I can stop time and take a photograph, and I will always have it, so I can always remember. It’s like saving that one memory forever. And I can take pictures of you, and I can remember exactly that look on your face. And by the way, I can tell when your smile is fake or real. You can’t fool a camera.” She smiled at this, and I blushed, thinking of all the false smiles I had forced when I was having a bad day.

“But it’s mainly a way to hold on to something, to be able to remember something that will never be exactly the same again. I can look at all my pictures, and reflect on how much time has past. Think of how much can change in a minute, and you will realize why I take so many pictures. Just in case things change, I will have that photo. All the people and places are frozen there, so as you change and they don’t, you can notice those changes and hold onto the way things were and never will be again. It’s a way to leave my mark on this world. After I’m gone, my pictures will be here, and I’ll always be on that picture, smiling, for you to look at. A camera flash is the surest thing in the world.” And with that she rose, kissed my head, and left for work. I didn’t quite understand the last thing she had said about the camera flash being the surest thing in the world, and my need to understand forced me to find out.

So I took pictures constantly, and I grew to love it too. I figured out ways to make a shot look better, how to focus light, and how to position people to make the photo different. I loved it in exactly the same way my mother did. I now understood her in a way I never had before. And I understood what she meant about the camera flash. When the flash goes off, it’s reassuring. That camera flash promises that what you just saw is saved, that you can remember it. It’s proof that you now have that memory forever. And it’s proof that you are now engraved into that picture, into that moment in time, forever. I also wanted to be here after I was gone, and that is mainly why I am thinking about my mother tonight. I want people to look back on my candid shots and remember, like I was forced to do only six months after that conversation over tea.

My mom died, at the age of thirty-eight, in the most unfair way that my teenage mind could comprehend. My mom was on a city street, and a bar fight got out of hand. A man was kicked out just as she was nearing an alley to take an amazing shot of the shadows. A gun was fired, and my mom was taken from me forever. I looked over all her pictures for months, and swore I would take my mother’s passion to the next level.

There I stood, as the night was over, in the middle of the empty street, looking at the distinguished brick building in front of me. My photographs had been greatly admired, but I had just pressed down the button on my camera at the right moment in time. I was just here for my mother. My senses were heightened; I could smell the scent of flowers from the florist shop down the street. The air was filled with late night fog, and the steady beat of a light drizzle calmed me. I was finally where my mother had always wanted to go. A man on the other side of the street hummed a tune, and I picked it up and hummed it too. I was happy, and my mother’s face was in my mind. I was not paying attention until the car was too close to do anything.

I only felt a quick moment of pain, as my head pounded into the pavement. I was slightly aware of shouts and of wetness under my head and legs, but I was peaceful. My breathing was shallow, and I realized that the first milestone in my career would also be my last. As the infamous white light came, it was quicker then I expected it to be. And I instantly recognized what it resembled. It was assuring me that my life would not be forgotten, that I was captured in time, that my life was frozen as it was, and that my memories were safely tucked away somewhere in the universe.

The white light resembled the flash of a camera.


© Copyright 2018 Adelaide Lawrence. All rights reserved.

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