Continued from 91/366 – Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium (Part 4)
“Come on, guys!” Jane yelled back down the path behind her. “You’re walking like you should be at the old folks home! Hurry, or we’ll lose the light!”
“We’re getting there!” Dylan called back. He shot Samuel a look that said he wasn’t exactly happy with the speed.
Under normal conditions, such as his having a camera in a hard protective case with internal padding, Samuel would have been in front, yelling alongside Jane for Dylan to hurry up. Still, today, the camera case in his hands was not padded, and the brown leather didn’t appear to have magically solidified since he had received it. So he carried it like a newborn baby, and repeatedly checked and rechecked the ground to make sure he wouldn’t trip over any roots from nearby trees.
“What are you thinking about?” Dylan asked.
“I’m thinking that I should have bought a better case for the camera today before we came out here,” Samuel replied, “Then you’d be back here all by yourself.”
“Hey!” Dylan said.
“I’m not saying that you’re out of shape, bud, but you’re out of shape,” Samuel teased.
“Yeah,” Dylan huffed, exaggerating his fatigue, “I should probably get more exercise. Like the exercise that you two give me.”
“Let’s go, slowpokes!” Jane yelled, “I’m at the top. You should hurry!”
“You’re going to mess up your hair for your pictures,” Dylan yelled back.
Jane stuck out her tongue and disappeared over the crest of the hill. A few minutes later, Dylan and Samuel peaked over the top of the hill, and Kezar Falls came into view along with the sound.
The falls weren’t enormous, barely more than a stream or a brook falling fifteen feet, but the granite wall that made up the face behind it reflected the light with little flecks of mica throughout just before dusk when the sun would sink low enough to point down the stream like an alley. Currently, the sun was about a quarter of the way up the wall.
“This is going to be so awesome!” Jane said, jumping in place. “I’m so excited! I’ve always loved those old-timey photos they sell at the fair, but the thought of having my picture taken with an actual old camera like this-I’m geeking out a little, I know-excites me so much!”
“You’re an odd duck,” Dylan said. Jane punched him in the shoulder. “Hey!”
“You deserved it. You’re just jealous that the camera like me more than you,” Jane said, pretending to fluff her non-existent curls.
“You’re just in love with yourself,” Dylan shot back, pointing down his throat like he would be sick.
“Alright, I think we should set up on the left side,” Samuel said, standing on the small bridge that crossed the brook. “Jane, you should be on the right. I don’t want our shadow in the picture this time.”
“What can I do to help?” Dylan said, suddenly serious.
“You want to find some wildflowers? Maybe some cool moss or something?” Jane suggested. “I could put my hair in a quick braid and thread the flowers through. I wonder if the camera catches any of the colors, or if it’s just that cool gold color all over.”
“Do I have to?” Dylan protested.
“I mean, what the lady wants, she wants,” Samuel said, smiling at Dylan as he set the case down on a rock and popped the latch.
Dylan stared at him for a moment, then looked to Jane as though he was going to protest, but ultimately threw his arms into the air, “Fine! I guess I’ll go get the damn flowers.”
“You’re amazing!” Jane called after him as he trudged off into the woods.
“If I get a tick on my ass again, you’re pulling it off this time!” he yelled over his shoulder as he kicked a small rock off the path.
Samuel watched him go with a smile on his face as he shook his head. When he turned back to the camera case, Jane’s sneakers were directly in front of him. He looked up to see her smiling down at him, blushing slightly with the sun illuminating her eyes. She looked like one of the characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“Stand up,” she commanded, and he obeyed, carefully moving the camera away from her feet.
Samuel rose to his feet, his eyes locked on hers. She threw her arms over his shoulders and gave him the softest, sweetest kiss he had ever experienced. He thought he could feel static electricity between their lips as his breath caught in his chest.
“I love you. Happy birthday,” she whispered as she released him.
Samuel teetered for a moment, blinking his eyes a few times to attempt to break the spell she had clearly cast on him.
“W-what was that?” he asked.
“Oh, I-I thought you felt it too,” she said, her cheeks turning redder. She turned away from him to hide her face.
“I do. I just wasn’t expecting it to be,” he paused, looking for the right word. He paused a second too long, and her arms were back over his shoulders, and their lips connected again.
“About time!” Dylan hollered as he came back, flowers in hand.
Jane pulled herself away, leaving Samuel tottering on his own. He stepped forward to catch his balance and nearly kicked the camera in the process, but instead hit the case, knocking it on its side.
“What’d you find?” Jane asked, walking past Samuel as he shook his head to try to kick start all the processes that seemed to stop when she had kissed him.
Samuel bent and grabbed the camera, righted the case in the process, and swapped the single film for another carefully. The picture on the film looked like a double-exposure. He could vaguely see the image of his mother leaning against the seat, but there was something else there that he couldn’t quite make out.
“What do you think?” Jane asked, drawing his attention back up. She had put flowers in her hair, and looked down at him with the radiant glow of the setting sun. “You ready?”
“Yeah,” Samuel said, closing the case as he stood with the camera. “Ready when you are.”
Jane ran across the bridge and up to the granite wall, almost close enough to the water to get wet, but not quite. They had been here many times taking pictures, and she knew the right spot to stand every time.
“So, how are you feeling?” Dylan whispered as Samuel lined up the shot. The viewfinder still didn’t work well, so he was doing his best to eyeball it.
“About what?” Samuel said, closing his left eye.
“About Jane?” Dylan asked as Samuel pressed the button on the camera. There was a tiny click, a small flash, and Jane wasn’t standing in front of them anymore.
“She’s gone!” Samuel said, standing upright quickly.
“What the hell just happened?” Dylan said. “She was right there! You saw that, too, right?”
“Saw what?” Samuel asked.
“The face. There was something there, and then she and it went vanished,” Dylan said, pointing to the spot she had been standing.
Samuel looked down at the camera, his heart pounding in his chest.