by Joe McGuire
She had a camera, that much I remember. A small one with a handle like a gun that she’d point and position at anything and everything she could find.
You would hear it clicking, constantly turning and ticking as the film rolled on and on through the body with the dials and the cogs and the flashes of light that would play through the small cracks in the plastic casing.
I go and sit where she used to crouch, the camera trained on some bird or some tree or some shrub with the sun shining through the gaps and I look, try and see what she would see and think what she would think but I can’t.
I don’t have that kind of mind.
That kind of sense.
So I just sit. I sit there and I think my own thoughts, about my own problems, about my own memories.
Of the camera and the films.
She used to keep them in a box. A small one, in the corner of her room by the wardrobe, often with a pile of dirty clothes on top of it or a pile of books she was meant to read for her course, or a pile of notes she had made for another of her projects, another of her installations or her ‘pieces’, she used to call them, pieces, not projects.
I’d sit down in the wicker chair on the other side of the room and she’d show me.
I’d sit there and watch. Saying nothing, just being there to take it all in.
She’d stand in front of me and smoke. Cigarette after cigarette went flying from her fingers and into the tray on her desk, filling the room with smoke and sending strange shadows flowing across the walls of that small, stuffy little room in the height of summer.
They were stunning. They would make me forget about the smoke and the cigarettes and the stuffiness of the summer outside the window.
They were wonderful.
She could take me anywhere she wanted, anywhere I dreamt and make me feel things I had never thought to fathom and make me smile.
And all of them came from that camera. Always by her side. On the bus, on the train, in a tree or on the bench. Always there.
Always on me.
Until it left.
One day it was there, the next it was gone, never to be seen again.
With the camera went the showings in the smoke, the feelings and the thoughts in the shadows and the smiles in the wicker chair by the window. Gone. Forgotten.
At least, by her.
She had other issues. More smoke, different smoke, harmful smoke throwing different shadows across the walls and her head, her soul and her projects. They became strange, twisted, tangled and torn between one thing and another, neither here nor there.
They were no longer beautiful. They were filled with pain and sadness and smoke.
A different kind of smoke.
And always they were there, the suppliers of the smoke, laughing behind her back. Always laughing at me.
Until they were gone.
Leaving her alone with her thoughts and the scars they had left behind. On her arms, her legs, her face and her feelings. All of them red, all of them bloody, all of them raw.
So she snapped. She screamed. She ran and she jumped.
Into the water.
From one world to the next.
Only she missed.
The boat came under the bridge and she bounced before she smashed into the surf.
Like the camera, gone.
Like the projects and the installations and the feelings with the smoke, the shadows and the worn wicker chair by the window, forgotten.
So I sit here alone.
In the dark.
Trying to forget.
My head, like hers, in pieces.
Joe McGuire is a student based in Bath spending an extortionate amount of money to study Dance.