“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” -Ansel Adams
Michael Lejeune says:
His wrists itched, and it seemed familiar. He scratched them, then forced himself to let his arms swing at his sides. A moment later he had to remind himself again. His fingers kept finding the insides of his wrists. He walked, hands together, each worrying the wrist of the other.
He’d walked for some time, but how long he could not tell. Thinking of it made him dizzy. It seemed like he’d put quite a distance behind him.
“Making good time,” he said aloud, to hear the reverberation of his voice along the tiled walls.
But making good time where? Where did this hallway go, anyway?
The fact that he didn’t know distressed him. He knew he’d set out on this trek of his own will, and he knew he had no choice but to finish. But where he’d come from? Where he was going? They had dropped from his mind. There was only the trip. The ordeal of travel.
It made no sense. You didn’t just go someplace and forget where you were going. Or where you came from, for that matter.
He stopped. The urge to continue was strong. It tugged at him, like a river around his legs. But he remained still, determined to get his bearings. He had to remember what he was doing.
“My name is Robert,” he said. It seemed a good place to start. “I am in a hallway. I’m going in that direction.” He pointed ahead. “I came from that direction.” He turned to point behind. When he did, he felt something against his leg, in his pocket. He reached in and pulled out a photograph.
The word slipped out of him like fog. Uncontainable.
“Melinda,” he said again, focusing on the image.
Her face was beautiful, but sad. Melinda was not a word, it was a name. Her name. The sad woman looking at him, seeing him standing in the pale hallway with colorless lights.
Scratching his wrists.
He looked down at them, saw blood where he’d scratched. Not a splotch but a gash, traveling up his forearms toward the crook of each elbow. How had he done that with only his hands? These cuts were too clean; they had to be knife wounds. He checked his pockets for a blade or something sharp, but the photograph of Melinda was his only possession.
She looked at him again from the photo, and her sadness brought a memory.
The reason he was here.
His arms had bled into a single red stream. He’d watched it flow down the shower drain. He’d laughed, felt bitter joy at the end. Finally the pain she’d given him would cease.
And it had indeed ceased. He felt no pain now. Only the urge to continue.
The photograph slipped back into his pocket as he started off again, down the hallway. The face in the photo blurred in his memory. Soon, so did the presence of the photo itself.
His wrists itched, and it seemed familiar.