February 19, 2012 § 4 Comments
Pieces of Me
The printer whirrs and spits out the last of the photographs. I spread them out across the kitchen table. The overhead light creates a glare on the glossy paper. I turn the dimmer switch down and look at them again. Nine pictures of me: walking in the woods, driving home to Ottawa, sitting at the top of a Ferris wheel in Carp, walking along the Mississippi River. I pull out a chair and stand on it. I hit my head on the chandelier. It spins around on the brassy black chain the light hangs from. Two bulbs have burned out. For a moment I feel guilty for the dead bulbs and the layer of dust everywhere. It passes. I look down at the table. Faces stare back at me. My chest aches. I touch and press the soft fleshy place where they cut you if you stop breathing so they can stick a tube in to do a tracheal intubation. I gulp for air. The chair wobbles.
In two photos I am smiling. Brave smile, looking up at the camera at the moment I caught her looking at me through her lens. In the others I am not paying attention to her. I am focused on something else, camera dangling from one hand, distracted, bent over, drawn to examine it more closely. My daughter took them all, when I wasn’t looking. Except for one. I shift my feet. The seat belches and cracks. I left the chairs out in the rain one afternoon in the summer. The plastic veneer puckered and the chair dried brittle. I step down before I break it completely. The me in the photos watches. Even if I look at the photos sideways, I can’t avoid the eyes. Dark and sad even though the me is smiling; lines of worry parading on her face; pale shade of defeat, loss. My chest feels heavy again. The cat comes in and jumps on the table, sending the photos sliding across as he does. I rescue them before they fall. The few photographs I have of myself were taken by someone else and most of them stared up at me from the tabletop.
A thought trips through my brain, making me take a step back. I bump into the counter. These pictures are how she sees me. Not what I see. She told me this morning, when she found her camera in her bed room that her personal goal is to capture me any time we are out. I won’t know when. The me eyes stare back. I am not sure how I feel about it. I scratch at my neck.
Leigh-Anne grew up in the Ottawa Valley, and still considers Kinburn, Ontario to be home. When she isn’t writing or working at her day job as the Fundraising and Special Events Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club of London, Leigh-Anne can often be found stomping around in the woods around St. Thomas, ON with her daughters, camera in hand.
Image: Walking in the Morning, by Leigh-Anne Fraser