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The Stolen Photos

November 17, 2012

He knelt on the edge of the hearth as he carefully folded and tightly twisted sheets of newspaper into long thin strips; placing them on the grate as he built winters first open fire. He turned towards the open door behind him briefly before pulling out a small pile of photos from his back trouser pocket, he looked searchingly at each one, before as with the newspaper he twisted them into paper kindling before methodically placing them too on the cold grate. Finally he had the last photo in his hand, the one that broken his heart, he half smiled at his own over dramatic, sad and tragic thoughts, yet, his heart felt broken with loss. This photo reached out a mocking, accusing finger directed at him in a way the others hadn’t, they had allowed him his fantasy, this seemed a more personal portrait, she was sitting in the garden looking tired yet still managing to smile at the camera, the type of smile you pull when someone you are close to insists on taking a snap-shot whilst ignoring your pleas to leave you alone, because you look dreadful. She was sitting there at a picnic bench in what looked like old jeans and t-shirt, there was a lawn mower in the shot and children playing in the distance an everyday domestic scene, that excluded him, denied him, accused him. All his photos of her had been downloaded from Facebook and twitter, photos he had stolen from other photographers, friends, family and work colleagues, photos scanned, saved and printed, none of them taken by him, and he had to admit none ever would be. He didn’t have the right to take a photo of her and couldn’t take the risk of owning one. He had never asked her for one, the moments they had shared lingered in their memories alone, where their pictures remained private. But he couldn’t resist stealing the photos just as they had stolen kisses and moments that never lasted long enough, well for him anyway.

The photographer in taking this photo and her by her tired attempt at a pleasing yet exasperated smile reached out not just to the photographer but to him as well and stated clearly she is mine, I can photograph her whenever I want and she will always smile, and he knew in that moment of looking at it that he had to let her go.

You would think that he wanted a naked or sexy photo of her taken in one of those instantly forgettable hotel rooms and it was the lack of that, that he lamented, but no it was the ordinariness of her smiling directly at him that he regretted not having, that lack of familiarity, of fondness. He flashed back to how once whilst during a meal he had rested his chin on his hand and had realised he still had her smell on his fingers, evidence of her passion. Had he stolen her odour as well? Or was it borrowed or even a gift he’d been given, a gift that all too soon vanished. He hadn’t showered that night reluctant to let it go, falling asleep with a secret smile, that until now he had refused to let go. He felt a sharp pain in his chest and throat as he swallowed a hard lump of rising tears. He began to twist the photo into a long thin strip, reluctantly placing it onto the rest. He reached for the coal bucket and spread a thin layer of coal on top then set fire to the paper and kindling. The lit match caught the damp gleam in his eye before the paper caught and began to burn with a rainbow flame. Sighing he knew he had to extinguish his.
A cool draught beat his back as the door flew open “Mum! Dad’s lit the fire” Screeched Joshua down the hall. “Can you help me with my homework?” he asked in a quieter tone. He turned his back on the fire as he flashed his son an exasperated smile.

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One comment

  1. This is by far the best every day occurrence experience I am the other end of. Shame its gone to the extream point where I get slapped or water tipped over me. Who ever wrote thise should be proud.

    Its amazing.



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Caroline Criado-Perez

A Pox on the Patriarchy

feministmeup

Lady things, explained.

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"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

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