Legal Theft Project: The Proper Lighting

Outside the open apartment gate, a small pack of children threw rocks at passing cars. Fen ignored them and got a closer look at the shattered window and colorful graffiti that circled it. He got a few decent shots, playing with the afternoon light and saturation. He’d gained a small audience by the time he lowered the lens. Apparently he was more interesting than automobiles. He didn’t blame them. If he’d been out on the trail he would have had something for them. Something to light up the day and let them remember him. But … he simply lived here. So he stowed his camera and walked off, long legged strides leaving the curiosity and palpable pressure of boredom at his heels. A block later and he broke into a run. Tightened his camera bag strap so it wouldn’t fly off, and raced down the streets. Stares, whispers, and swears followed him. When he nearly tripped over a man leaving a shop and was treated to an improbable account of his ancestry, he finally slowed. He checked the sun and grudgingly turned his feet toward home, he still had homework to do.

His father was busy with the evening rush and his sister was off with her friends preparing for some school event. He understood glitter and poster board were involved. He managed not to shudder. Slogged through about a quarter of his assigned homework. Took a break by writing his required sentences for Spanish as a villanelle and then gave up entirely. Formulaic, cohesive, unimaginative crap. He put on the CD of traditional guitar he’d gotten when he last visited Spain and pulled up his pictures from the day. He studied the broken window, played with light levels and sharpness. Flipped back to earlier in the day, a blurred shot of a crosswalk, an electrical box so covered in tattered paper you could barely tell what its intended purpose was, the stark contrast of the new bakery next to the abandoned lot with the rusting car. He played with mood, making some stark, some bright, more false… but nothing worked. Frustrated he went downstairs and dug into the cookie jar. His sister must have been experimenting as his cookie contained both chocolate chips and butterscotch and the texture was delightfully crispy. He left her a note and headed back up the stairs.

It was the music that was wrong. Nothing about the pictures he’d taken felt like Spanish guitars. He flipped through his collection and made a list of modern, mostly eerie music and settled down in front of his computer screen. This time through, the broken glass was opportunity wasted, the electrical box showed time and carelessness, and the bakery seemed illogical in its place on that corner. Here, with the ability to manipulate moods, light, and blur, the world he was trapped in took on other properties. Transforming from desperate to mysterious, from abandoned to ancient. From mundane to magical. They became places he was willing to spend time. They just needed proper shading.


I stole this first line from a machete wielding diplomat. Well, at least it gave us something to do.

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