Of Photography and Truth
You’re always embarrassed in photographs, holding up your hand, saying wait, wait, and it’s your hair or your makeup or there’s something in my eye, and I breathe slowly, fighting the urge to say but you’re beautiful because you don’t want to know. Later, you swipe at the screen, saying delete, delete, delete.
Andrea poses for me naked in hotel bedrooms, all the lights burning and the flash bleaching her to a ghost. Her eyes hollow, and each shot is more abstract than the last. Frame after frame, I sacrifice figure and line to a magnesium absence, finding truth in the emptiness she becomes. I’m in there somewhere, she says, behind all that white.
You buy yourself a camera, take control. I want to see why you love it so much. You stand me in front of mountains, only ever taking one shot each time. If it works, it works, you say. I try to explain the rule of thirds, the leading line, but you only laugh — you and your expertise — and you always place the subject of the image directly in the centre of the frame. It shouldn’t work, but it does: a man, a mountain, simply shown. At night,as you sleep, I go to the beach and fail to capture the ocean.
I phone because I need to see her, but her flatmate says she’s gone. You’re the camera-guy, right? There’s something on its way. Two days later I come home from work to find you on the floor, surrounded. Each print is a whiteness, an indecipherable blank, but on the reverse, my scrawled messages to her, my dirty words. Who is she? you say, holding an image in your hand. I want to say: can’t you see she’s nothing. She doesn’t even exist.
All the furniture’s gone, and so are you. Faint images play against these bare walls as I take a pencil, trace the outline: the two of us, as we were. But when the sun goes down these grey scratchings will be all that’s left.
Jason Jackson’s prize-winning fiction appears regularly in print and online. Recent publications include The Nottingham Review, New Flash Fiction Review, and Craft Literary. Jason’s story ‘Mess of Love’ was recently awarded 3rd place in the 2020 Retreat West Short Story Competition and his story’ In my dream I see my son’ is featured in Best Microfictions 2020. Jason is also a photographer, and his prose/photography hybrid work The Unit is published by A3 Press. Follow Jason on Twitter @jj_fiction
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