The Man in the Park

You get back to your studio to develop pictures from the hour you just spent in the park. All of the pictures turn out well, except for a select few. In six photographs, there is a man in the frame. Something seems slightly off, and rather strange about each picture. Who is he and what is weird about the photographs?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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139 thoughts on “The Man in the Park

  1. DarlingTonia

    we flicked through the pictures just as quickly as the flash that had captured the still moments and frozen them in time.
    swish……swish……swish
    the shiny paper rushed through my fingers as I searched through the stack for the moment of truth.
    picture after picture the fake smile plastered across my face appeared. vengeance raced through my veins, anger burned through my soul.
    finally I am face to face with Karma himself; wearing all black and green he peeked subtly from behind the leaves of the thick oak tree. sheltered by his own shadow he lurks within the darkness waiting for the perfect time to strike.
    swish
    the shadow moves closer as we flick through the pictures, every preying step remaining un noticed, un announced.
    his cat-like moves shaped the space around him as the leaves parted and waved and rained upon her freshly styled hair. she looked up and cursed that tree as she posed yet again
    snap
    the moment frozen, the darkness protruding and all the while vengeance was plaguing my mind.
    I stared at the pictures in pure bliss as I reminisced on the moments of roaring revenge.

    “This one right here is my favorite”

    Crystal says as she holds up a pic of the two of us back to back, that same fake smile was still painted across my face. the only thing on my mind was vengeance, but for the moment all I could do was pretend to like her and smile the fakest smile that was ever smiled as we continued to view the pictures.

    “Wait, go back to that last one!”

    Crystal urged

    “Did you see something in the trees?”

    “No, I didn’t”

    I replied in a low tone, but really I had known all along.

    “There’s somebody there!”

    she said as she pointed at the pic of herself grinning as she gazed seductively at the man who was removing her clothes.

    “There’s nobody there”

    I re assured her, pretending not to see the siluohette of the darkness that lurked beyond the leaves.

    just as the grin grew across my face, Crystal snatched the stack of pictures and hurried through them.
    One by one she watched her life flash before her eyes as the figure emerged from the darkness more and more with each picture.

    “Oh my God, look – there is someone else in this picture!”

    she handed me a picture of herself undressing her un authorized lover as a face peeked out and watched from above.

    “Look, Look!”

    she hands me another pic, this time the face is staring directly into the camera with a peculiar look

    “who is that?!”

    she screamed in a panic, all the while pacing the room back and forth

    the atmosphere grew cold and Crystals heart began to thunder. In her hand, she held a picture of a dark disguised shadow looking at her and her lover through a pair of binoculars as he talked through what appeared to be a walkie talkie

    “Who is that”

    Crystal began to cry, knowing that she had a lot to lose by allowing herself to be a part of this adulterous adventure

    “Well, it is your husband”

    I told her calmly

    “I thought he might like to know what kind of trash he left me for”
    I said with a smile across my face as I tossed her the last picture in the stack

    Crystal stood back and looked on in awe as her well to do, attractive husband stood above her in the trees, covered in darkness and looking directly into the camera as she posed with her secret lover – her breast held firmly in his hands.

    “And what’s that in his hands?!”

    she asked in a weeping tone

    “It’s your divorce papers, now you can return the life that you stole from me and forget about ever seeing him again”

    Just then her bedroom door opens and the scent of Egyptian Musk invades the dimly lit foyer. Crystal turns in time to see her future ex-husband appear from behind the doors, suit cases full of clothes in hand.

    “I’ll be back to grab the rest of my things later, as a matter of fact – you keep it”

    Omar says as he exits the house, kissing me passionately on my lips on his way out the door

    “I thought you were my friend”

    Crystal falls to the floor and starts to cry with her face buried in her hands

    “How could I ever really be friends with a home wreckert like you?”

    I scolded her

    “You came into my house, slept with my husband, then stole and married him and you thought we were going to be friends?!”

    I asked her in disbelief

    “Please, don’t do this”

    “It’s already done, Oh, and there’s one more thing you need to know”

    I walked over to her, kneeled down and whispered in her ear as I dropped one last picture beside her

    “That man you’ve been having an affair with, this is his wife – she’ll be here in exactly 15 minutes”

    I chuckled on my way out the door knowing that she was looking down at a picture of her long lost sister.

  2. Icabu

    Tammy sat at her computer in the dorm and hooked up her camera, ready to ‘develop’ her photographs in Photoshop. The park teemed with wildlife and she was able to get her class’s quota within an hour. The cropping and adjusting she did with software was very similar to the dark room – what she considered the ‘dark age’.

    Her bunny came out great as did the chipmunk. The ducks on the pond was her favorite, followed closely by the squirrels. She definitely needed to improve her song bird photography – too boring. When she lined up the wildlife photos in the program, a second photo appeared between each one. Now she had twelve photos.

    The first ‘extra’ photo had a man instead of the bunny. She didn’t remember seeing anyone in the field with the rabbit. He was just a shadow, oddly, in the sunny grass patch. Even zoomed in there was no detail. In the next photo, the man sat on the rock instead of the chipmunk. Tammy was absolutely sure there were no people there with the chipmunk. The detail on the shadowy figure was even less in this photo. An even less detailed shadowy figure stood in the pond instead of her ducks and a barely identifiable figure sat on the tree branches instead of the squirrels.

    Creeped out, Tammy wiped her sweaty palms on her pants before bringing up the final ‘extra’ photos. Where the birds were supposed to be orbs appeared. Tammy knew a little about the so-called energy being orbs from her true-believing roommate. These photos would push Ginger, her roomie, over the edge. Tammy felt pretty much on edge herself.

    She printed the first ‘extra’ picture, the one with the best outline of the man. Grabbing the still damp inkjet print, Tammy stared at the perfect picture of a bunny rabbit. Double-checking, she was sure she’d printed the man picture and did so again … and got the rabbit again.

    Turning back to her computer screen, Tammy saw only her original wildlife photos. The extras were gone. Had she imagined them? She shook her head. No, her hammering pulse told her they were very real. She’d memorized the outline of the man – it definitely appeared to be a man in that first photo, before it faded into the orbs.

    Still on edge, Tammy nearly jumped when her roommate bounced into the room.

    “I got pics of Brian!” She announced. “Wanna see?”

    Glad to be distracted, Tammy looked at Ginger’s brother’s pictures. He was in Afghanistan, so it always made Ginger ecstatic to hear from him.

    Tammy’s blood froze when she saw the outline of Ginger’s brother standing by a big truck, a mirror of the shadow in that first strange photo. Then he sat on a boulder like the chipmunk photo. She fainted before Ginger got to the photo of him in a river – like her duck photo.

  3. Alukic1

    Terpstra, a tall, thin, long limbed, frail framed fellow, with an aggressive attitude smelled something that wasn’t right. In the dullest and darkest corner of the sandy gray U-shape, I sat alone. Stacked water bottles blocked anyone’s sight of me, but weary Terpstra wandered over and started to talk. Around me, he smelled the smokey and estranged essence as it formed and filled the atmosphere. He knew its aroma and hungered to taste the succulent source. In need of notable company, I conjured a deal. “You may share this delight, if one day later in life, you return the favor.” Upon agreeing, the loving aroma lingered all around us as we slyly sipped on the forbidden yet benevolent beverage universally known, though sadly not to this tormented and treasonous land. The liquid dispersed and hours passed pressing us to disappear into the land of dreams.
    Terpstra, though cunning as many other combatants, died that year.

    Fast forwarding many moons to another barley lit evening, lonesome me, barely sober, wandered the park. Peering through my lens, I photographed leisure all about. My favorite, a well with a statue of a fallen. Not knowing, nor caring, I spoke to the sandy gray swordsman. Shyly sitting, I told him the tale and wondered, would he ever return the favor? Amazingly, a brown bagged bottle furiously propelled by the jet of the well, peacefully floated toward my timid reflection. Sincerely smiling, yet ironically adding, I also gave him amazing company. Venting and veering from the other side, a Vietnam Veteran stepped sober towards me and said, “I’ll share it with you, if one day later, you’ll return the favor.”

    Later, as I looked at the long list of developed pictures, stood in many, a blurry, but long limbed fellow, holding a bottle.

  4. AnnabelleRenee

    I stared at the ever growing pile of paperwork that had made a home for itself on my desk. It had always been a dream of mine to become an entrepreneur, but I guess I overestimated myself in the motivation category. My mother said I was pretty good at putting things off when I wanted too. I sighed, I missed her. It had been awhile since she visited. Every time she came she would bring a magazine for me, so, according to her I then would have something to do when she left. Like I needed more to do! I gazed up at that menacing stack of work that needed to be done. But there I sat in my home office that morning, flipping through Better Homes and Garden with the news turned up. The sun shone through my window in almost a magical way. Here in Washington, sunshine is a rarity and seems to bring everyone outside.
    But I stayed put and glanced at a dream at home office in my magazine, then I looked at my own. My eyes quickly retreated back to the picture. I knew it was bad that I couldn’t even face my own office, but I wasn’t the tidiest person in the world and we already covered my motivation skills. Instead I got up to make myself a cup of coffee when my tv starting blaring:
    “This just in! Serial killer just escaped from jail. Police are investigating the case…” I pressed the mute button, news was just depressing these days. I made myself two full cups of coffee before I decided that I really needed to go outside. But what was I going to to do outside? There was a park across the street, but what was I going to do, frolic in the flower beds? What would a normal, middle-aged woman do during a sunny day at the park? I began pondering this for a couple of moments when I decided I would break out my old camera and not frolic in the flowerbeds but take pictures of them. After an episode of Game of Thrones and another cup of coffee of course. But that’s how I spent my afternoon, taking picture after picture. It was actually pretty fun, maybe this could become my new hobby I thought.
    After a long day I decided that my camera didn’t have a cord that could connect me to my computer. So I went to the nearest photography studio. I examined my photos in the dark room, I was happy with my masterpieces until I realized there was someone reappearing in photo after photo.
    “Hello Jessica, have you missed me?” A creepy voice moaned. I squealed in delight as I hugged my brother.
    “I thought you were still in jail,” I said.
    “Just got out this morning.”
    “If you don’t mind me asking, why are you in all my pictures?”
    “I was just trying to photo bomb my favorite little sister’s pretty little pictures,” he said with a grin that always made me forgive him. “I’m so glad mom bailed me out this morning, I was worried when they kept me overnight. I’ll never drink and drive again, that’s for sure. Oh! And speaking of mom, she wanted me to give you this.” My brother handed me a Better Homes and Gardens. I smiled. Then he and I walked out of the dark room to go buy frames for my new pictures. My office is looking better already.

  5. Trissa

    Jeanette Conrad held the old Nikon lovingly. She gloated to herself as she recalled that morning. Jeanette was hitting the Saturday morning garage sales when she spied the camera and its case. Jeanette had a passion for photography; teaching a night class at the local community college. She purchased the camera on a whim. For $35 it was a steal.

    Jeanette felt a stab of guilt as the young lady put her money in the cigar box. The girl was one of her students at the college. “That camera belonged to grand-dad. He passed away a few months ago. Grandma is going to one of those assisted living places now, so we’re selling a lot of their stuff for her. She couldn’t stand to be here herself and see the stuff go.”

    Camera in hand and a roll of film, Jeanette spent the rest of her afternoon snapping pictures. The park’s flower beds were spectacular. Pretending to be a modeling photographer, she shot from a variety of angles. “Work with me! Now hold that pose.” Sighing, she tossed her head. “It’s been great working with you.”

    The rest of the weekend, Jeanette drove through the countryside snapping nature pictures. By Sunday night, she was in her home dark room developing several rolls. Jeanette gazed up at the string of photos dangling overhead trying to decide which ones to share with her class.

    “What the heck,” she muttered. Squinting, she leaned forward for a better look. The pictures she had taken at the park turned out beautifully. There was just one flaw in the first six. An elderly man appeared near the rose bed. He was leaning as if to smell the flowers. In another, he stood waving a battered straw hat. In each photo, he held a different pose, smiling broadly as if he knew he was being photographed. “But there wasn’t anyone there,” Jeanette said out loud.

    No matter, when the night of her class arrived, Jeanette decided to bring the photos. The colors of the flowers was striking and the old gentleman added a bit of humor. She arranged the 8 by 10 photos around the room giving it the feel of an art gallery. Her back was turned to the door. It was the huge sob coming from behind that shook her.

    It was the young lady who had sold her the camera. “Miss Conrad! Those pictures!”

    “Yes,” Jeanette trilled, mentally patting herself on the back. “See how the colors of these marigolds pop.”

    “No, it isn’t the flowers, Miss Conrad.” The girl gulped back another sob. “How in heaven’s name did you get pictures of my grand-dad?”

  6. agabor1022

    Lily stood silently at Max’s grave. As she stared at the ground, she couldn’t help but wonder about what their future would have been like. The man buried beneath her was the man she was wanted to spend the rest of her life with. She knew that five years ago, when she first met him at Columbia. Shaking the thought from her mind, Lily abruptly dropped the bouquet of flowers, patted the gravestone, and slowly walked away.
    It had been four months since Max died. Lily’s friends told her she had to move on. But she couldn’t. For the five years they had been dating, everything was Max and Lily, Lily and Max. Now, it was just Lily.
    She missed waking up to his ocean blue eyes and beautiful brown hair. She missed his smile, his laugh. She missed straightening his tie. She missed him holding her close.
    The sun shined on her back as Lily walked along the sidewalk in Central Park. Central Park was beautiful at this time of year. The trees were green, the sky blue.
    Lily continued to walk along the winding sidewalk until she found herself on a bridge overlooking the water. This used to be her and Max’s favorite place.
    “Lil,” Max had said one night, as they stood on the bridge, staring at the calm water. “If I make all bad decisions for the rest of my life, I’ll die a happy man, because I’d have still made the best decision in the world. And that decision was knowing you.”
    Lily smiled as she relived that moment in her head. Taking out her camera, she began to take pictures. Photography was how Lily healed. Every picture she took made her feel a little bit stronger, a little more healed. The sound of laughter approached and Lily soon saw a little boy and a little girl, running and squealing with joy.
    Lily watched them through her camera lens, snapping each shot. She suddenly felt genuine happiness. She hadn’t felt this way in four months. Lily couldn’t help but smile as she continued to take pictures of the laughing children. They were so innocent and young, never been hurt before. Soon they were out of sight, their laughter trailing away.
    Later, as she went through her photos onto the computer, Lily was still smiling. Her smile quickly faded as she came across the first picture of the little boy and girl. They were running up the middle of the bridge. But, leaning on the side of the bridge, stood a man in a suit with a crooked blue striped tie that complemented his blue eyes. With perfect brown hair on his head, he smiled at the ground.
    Shock flooded through Lily. That was Max all right, but Max was dead. Shaking her head, Lily moved on to the next picture. Sure enough Max was there, only this time he was looking right at Lily, with a gentle smile on his face.
    Lily’s shock disappeared and she suddenly felt comforted and loved. Her eyes filled with tears and she looked through the rest of the pictures of the little boy and girl, Max in every one of them. There was something different in the second to last picture, though. Max was holding a small box in his hand. Thinking this was strange, Lily quickly looked at the next picture. As she saw it, tears cascaded down her cheeks. Staring right at Lily, Max was down on one knee, holding open a box with the most beautiful engagement ring Lily had ever seen. Now she knew what their future would have been.
    “I’ll always love you,” Lily whispered to the picture on the computer screen. “Thank you Max.”

  7. writinglife

    What hooked me on photography is that magical moment the photos emerge from the empty paper. I was hooked the first time I saw that.

    This started as my attempt to get to know my father. Dad spent most of my life either at work or locked in his dark room developing his photos searching for the one that would win the Annual Irvona Photo Contest. He managed to come in second several times but was never awarded first place. I hated his studio and refused to step foot into it until after he died.

    This morning I spent an hour at the park taking snaps of the interplay between the morning mist and the landscape. I’m focusing on nature this year without humans so I occasionally had to wait for a jogger to pass through the shot. This is my best chance of taking first place in the contest after coming in second to Ben Johanson last year. There was a lot of talk last year that Ben hadn’t earned his tenth first place finished. It was possible it had been given to him because his friends were judging the competition. This year independent judges have been asked to do the judging.

    As the first six photos develop I notice a person in the photo. I’m puzzled by this since I didn’t see anyone in the frame when I took the photo. It appears to be someone deliberately injecting himself into the photo.

    I turn my attention to the remaining photos as they develop. Some are looking really special. I’m partial to the seventh photo I took which I think I’ll submit for this year’s contest.

    Now I turn my attention to the six photos with the guy in them. Since this is a small town I’m sure I’ll recognize whoever it was doing their best to ruin my shots. My money is on it being Ben trying to ruin my chances this year. If I have proof Ben is sabotaging his competition maybe I can have him banned from the contest.

    The guy’s features aren’t clear on the first couple of photos but there is something about him that is familiar to me. The blurring could be from me catching him while he was moving. In the third photo the guy looks to be standing still but lit from behind. That’s odd since I was shooting with the rising sun behind me. In the fourth photo some of the guy’s features are visible and they look vaguely familiar but it isn’t Ben.

    The fifth photo stops me dead. How is this even possible? I clearly see my father looking at me with a big grin on his face. In the sixth photo not only is Dad smiling but he is giving me the thumbs up he always flashed whenever I did something he was proud of like making the dean’s list at school.

    This year I’ll win first prize Dad. I’ll win it for both of us.

  8. Scarly

    The Man in the Park
    Its eight o clock, I have just sat down to look over my developed pictures from an hour ago in the park. As usual photographer routine or just my little habit; I go through them six times, taking in every stretch of detail. On the third round, I nearly choke on my coffee and almost spill it as I notice the six photographs with the same skinny tall man. He has dark brown hair with short messy ringlets, as if someone is always tousling it; it makes his young face look bright and mischievous. There’s a little girl with him, she looks around three or four, with light blonde curls. My own blonde lock falls into my face as I’m entranced by man. My hands can’t hold the photos still; they tremble like an old woman’s, my whole body shudders… I know him. Who is this man?
    Suddenly my head experiences a sharp intense shock causing me to drop my mug. It collides with the tiled floor and shatters. I clutch at my head; it feels like it’s going to explode. Wincing against the pain I force myself to focus on the man again; my thoughts bounce off the walls of my mind. Who is this man? Why does my heart beat so uncontrollably with aching and tugging…this strange yearning? I feel like I’m having a heart attack. I hold my head between my hands, the coffee and mug forgotten. I know this guy. My gut is telling me I’ve seen him before… but where? I try to make the connection, closing my eyes I whisper a quiet prayer, “God help me, why do I feel like I know this man? Who is he?” Tears slowly slide down my face. Scared. Frightened, Shaken, I stumble to the sofa and manage to lie down, trying to understand why this is happening to me and who this man is. I instinctively reach toward my collarbone for the sterling silver heart-shaped necklace that normally sits there, to fiddle with to calm my nerves.
    I jump as if someone has snuck up and startled me, it’s not there…oh that’s right. My brother, Daniel took it to the shop to be polished the other day. My shoulders relax and I laugh softly telling myself to quit being so paranoid. I close my eyes to take a deep breath, instead it comes out as a sharp gasp as my eyes snap open and I lurch forward. Oh my word. The necklace! He’s in the necklace! The man’s in the small picture of the clasp! Wait, that man isn’t a younger Daniel? My throat cracks in a million places; my stomach turns into a wild beast clawing and tearing at my insides. I scramble for the phone and call Daniel. He picks up after the second ring. “Daniel? Who is the guy in the necklace? How is he related to me, who are you Daniel? And… who am I really?”

  9. MCKEVIN

    smallster21 – Here are contents contained in the note….

    Banana Gelato

    1lb ripe yellow Bananas
    Vanilla Extract
    Brown Sugar
    Pint of Whipping Cream
    Banana Liquer
    Banana Gelato
    Dinner Wine

    1. Peel and thinly sliced bananas.
    2. Freezer in freezer bag overnight.
    3. Add to food processor.
    4. Add one tablespoon of Vanilla Extract.
    5. Add ¼ cup of chilled Whipping Cream
    6. 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
    7. Pulse on high until smooth.
    8. Enjoy.

  10. Amy

    Continued from last week’s prompt, “The Mysterious Men”…

    My hands shook as I developed the pictures from my terrifying afternoon at the Green River Park. Agent Ryan walked over and put his hands on top of mine to cease the tremors.

    “You don’t have to do this,” he said.

    “I want to,” I replied. I thought it might take my mind off the failed attempt to lure my serial killer ex-boyfriend out of hiding that took place just hours ago. They told me I was their last chance to catch Danny. He always did have an OCD thing about the number three, and with three women already abducted and killed, the FBI specialists were unsure if he would re-emerge to kill again.

    I was still in shock about dating someone for six months and not knowing he was capable of something like this. The evidence was there, no question about it. I had seen the grisly photos that just happened to catch him stuffing a hand back into a bag in the bed of his truck at a truck stop off I-90. My mind wandered to that hour at the park and what could have happened if he would have showed. I was surprised he had even answered my text, let alone agreed to meet. We used to hike in that park all the time. We even screwed around once or twice down by the river. Now all my happy memories of him would be tainted with the knowledge of the monster he really was.

    “These are actually pretty good,” Ryan said as he let go of my hands and picked up one of the finished photos. During the agonizing hour I took photos at the park and waited for Danny to show, Ryan was up the path a bit, seated on a bench. It felt strange being so far apart. He had been watching over me through the whole process and it was comforting to know he was always near.

    “Thanks,” I said. “It’s kind of a hobby.” I focused back on the task at hand and hung the last six pictures up to dry. I wondered idly if I would keep any of these snapshots. Probably not. I didn’t need a reminder of the most horrifying hour of my life. Maybe Ryan would want them.

    “So what happens next?” I asked him as I waited for the trees and sky to materialize in the last pictures.

    “I’ll stay with you for a while, if you want. Just as a precaution. But then, I guess you’ll just get back to your normal life. We will catch him, Angela.”

    I stared at the pictures, thinking my life would never ever be normal again. Maybe he knew they were onto him and only agreed to meet me to throw them off. Maybe he really was gone. I absentmindedly studied the picture closest to me and noticed a figure among the trees I hadn’t seen at the time. I picked it up and looked closer at the man half-hidden in the woods.

    The photo slipped from my hands.

    I grabbed the other five I had just finished developing, all taken of the same area near the edge of the woods. He was there, in every single one of them. Watching me.

    Danny.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I read both parts and if you read the second part very quickly it has a rhythm of fear and impending disaster to it. The reader knows from the get go, that Angela is way over her head in danger. I’m led to believe from the pace of it, she isn’t going to last the night in one piece. Riveting pace to the story. I wish I hadn’t read it right before lunch.

  11. tmcasler

    The pictures of the lilies turned out particularly well. Everyone takes such pictures on crisp blue sky kind of days, but I like to take them on the drizzling gray sky kind. It makes the beauty of something like a flower stand out all the more and who doesn’t love to capture water drops on petals. Collecting all of the floral pictures and setting them to the side, I turned my attention to the six pictures I had taken of the lake. I flipped off the lights, leaving only the glow of a red bulb and dipped the film under the water. Next came diluting the chemicals and agitating the film, which I did all quite instinctively. I was whistling softly as I hung the pictures on a line to dry and patiently sat before them. After a while the stunning pictures of the lake and surrounding forest came into view. I leaned forward and squinted at each in turn. At the third I paused and took a deeper look. I must have done something wrong. Skipped a step in the development, smudged the film, anything to explain what I was seeing. After the base image came clear, another image showed up in the middle of the lake. It was smudged and faint, yet I knew it at once: my dad. Any sensibility and strength simply left my body as I sunk to the ground in sobs. I knew without ever having to wait till the officers came the next morning. I knew without having to hear my mom scream in desperation clutching a medal to her breast. I knew as soon I saw him there in my portraits, bloody uniform and all.

  12. Hannah Streett

    Six photographs fluttered to the floor. Six pairs of eyes still stared out at her.

    Lacey stumbled backward, bracing herself against the wall. “Impossible,” she breathed. In her hour photographing the beautiful scenery at the park, not a single person had crossed her path. Not one. So why did a dark male figure haunt her shots of the trees?

    “D-Don’t be silly, Lacey,” she stuttered with a nervous chuckle. “He’s only a person. A normal pedestrian. You were probably so caught up in taking pictures that you didn’t notice him. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

    Lacey gulped. Who was she fooling? He looked horribly, eerily familiar, and the sick feeling stirring in her stomach suggested it wasn’t a coincidence. It has to be, she assured herself, demanding that her mind accept it and move on. It couldn’t be the same person from her childhood. That man was gone. He couldn’t come back.

    She prayed he couldn’t come back.

    Despite Lacey’s best efforts, a panicked gate kept her explanations away from her heart, forcing her onto her knees. She needed to prove it. She needed to examine the faulty photos more closely. Maybe, just maybe, she would find enough discrepancies to reject her fearsome, ludicrous theory.

    She didn’t.

    “It can’t be!” she exclaimed. Frantic, Lacey grabbed a particularly poignant image of the man leaning against the trunk of a weeping willow, partially shrouded by its wispy boughs. But even when obscured, the details still burrowed into her. The terribly calm, horribly purposeful intensity of his gaze. The heavy face-shadows cast by his dark hair.

    The strength in his pale, clenched fist.

    Whining softly, Lacey rocked back on her heels, too unnerved to feel ashamed of her childish behavior. “Why did you come back?” she choked out. So many years. So many years thinking she had escaped, and here they were again.

    Lacey trembled as she lay the picture on the floor again, facedown so she wouldn’t suffer its harsh, urgent reminder.

    Keenan had returned. And he would try to kill her again.

  13. Kerry Charlton

    FLOUNDERING FATHERS

    Last week, the editor of the Philadelphia Inguirer, John Thompson called me to his office. Being the head photographer, I had earned a Pulitzer and dozens of other rewards. When he asked me for a photo shoot of the gardens surrounding Independence Hall, I swallowed my pride.

    “Why use me, John?”

    “Because you’re the best on the east coast and I’m planning a special edition for the fourth. Will you do it Paul?”

    “Of course. I’ll do the shoot at first light tomorrow.”

    The photo assignment went well except when I framed the hall for a central view. Noticing a blur on my view finder as I took the first shot from a tripod, I cleaned the lens and took a second. The blur occured on the right side of the frame as did the third through the sixth, although in different locations. However, on the seventh frame, I thought the shot might be clear.

    Developing photos in the lab, all seemed okay except the first six I had taken of Independence Hall. Those appeared to have some hint of an aberration in different locations. Using sophisticated equipment at the Inquirer’s lab, what managed to appear on the first frame, resembled a ghost-like image of George Washington. Enhancing the second frame brought forth an angered face of Benjamin Franklin.

    With a pounding heart, cold sweat lined my face as I emhanced the remaining aberrations, In different positions appeared the likeness of Aaron Burr, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and John Hancock, all of them in ghostly form. I felt my mind exploding as I lifted the images and placed them in order on the seventh frame.

    John Adams stood in an adament pose, pointing his finger at George Washington. On the opposite side, Aaron Burr had wrapped his right hand in a choke hold on Hamilton’s throat while raising his left fist in front of Hamilton’s face.

    In the foreground of the photo, Ben Franklin had lifted both arms in a plea position to Hancock. But a very important person remained absent from the rest and I wondered about that. Studying the seventh frame in greater detail, I noticed a slight shadowy appearance looking out behind a tree in the background.

    After enhancement, I transferred Thomas Jefferson to the composite frame. Pushing print, a perfectly composed picture emerged. I expanded it to an 11 by 17 and went home exhausted from the day; taking only the last picture with me. Placing it on my nightstand, I placed my head on the pillow, falling in a deep sleep.

    In the middle of the night, whispers aroused me. I picked the photo up and placed my ear to Jefferson, as he talked,

    “They call me ‘the boy genius’ but none of them will engage in a conversation.”

    From Franklin’s plea to Hancock, came these words,

    “Just because you’re president of congress, doesn’t give you the right to take half the page for your stupid signature. Where will the rest of us sign?”

    From Burr to Hamilton, came an ominous threat,

    “If you keep bad-mouthing me Alex, I’ll shoot your eye out.”

    Adams was engaged in an angry comversation with Washington,

    “You may be president, George, but that doesn’t give you the privilege to grope Abigail.”

    “Who in hell told you that?”

    “Abigail said your hands traveled all over her body.”

    “I couldn’t help myself, John. She got a great set of Ta Ta’s and her legs go forever.”

    “I’m warning you George; if you don’t stop, I’ll tell Martha.”

    “I don’t give a sh–. I’m Father of the country. I’ll feel her up if I want to.”

    I had enough chatter for the night and pushed the photo back in it’s envelope and fell back to sleep. In the morning, I dropped the photo on John’s desk and headed for the door. Looking over my shoulder, I told him,

    “I need some time off, John. I.m heading to Bermuda for a week.”

  14. aikawah

    The garage was closed, the only light within coming from an old fluorescent tube on the far wall under which the three teenagers were standing. Tom was pointing at the white magnetic board that his dad had given him that holiday.

    “It’s not a person; I think it’s an animal of some sort.”

    “No” Leon insisted, “It is shaped like a person, and if Lisa’s theory is correct then it is far too intelligent to be an animal.”

    It had started as an experiment at City Park that afternoon to test the capabilities of Leon’s new camera. The single lens reflex had the capability to take a sequence of six photos in a second and Tom, tired of taking pictures of children flying kites and monkeys frolicking in the trees, had asked Lisa to pose in front of the swing. He had then tried riding by her on his bike, pressing the button that activated the sequence as he did. They had left the park just after, not looking at the pictures until they got home. When they did however, they had noticed the figure that was partly blocked by Lisa’s head in every shot. A shadowy human sized shape that seemed to have been running along the fence of the playground.

    Lisa walked up to the board for a better look. The six photos had been attached to the board using pilfered fridge magnets. She took the first and last ones off the board.

    “Whatever it is” she began, “knew that Tom was holding a camera and for that reason I agree with Leon, it is probably a human being.”

    She held the two printouts up to the light for the others to see.

    “Notice how in the first photo it is just visible on the right side of my head and in the very last one it is completely hidden from view despite the fact that Tom had moved all the way to my right side,” she paused to let it sink in. “It was able to accurately calculate Tom’s speed on the bicycle and use parallax to hide itself from the camera almost successfully in every shot.”

    She put the photos back on the board and turned around to look at the boys.

    “At the very least, it covered three hundred metres within the one second that those six photos were taken and if it is a person, then it is someone with superhuman speed and a strong desire not to be exposed. These pictures may have just put us in grave danger…” at that moment, the fluorescent tube exploded into a thousand shards and the garage was plunged into darkness.

    1. MCKEVIN

      Hey aikawah, glad you’re back. I love this story (I always love your stories.) and I love your blog. This sounds like you’re getting ready to try science fiction. Are you?

  15. vikinggirl1989

    It was a beautiful summer’s day when Rosette took her camera for a walk. Barely 25, Rosette was already making a name for herself in the photography world, and she loved every minute of it! On this particular day, she was headed to her favorite park on the banks of the Illinois River.
    Being full summertime, the play area of the park was crawling with kids. The usual playground crowd was there. Scanning the area, Rosette noticed a little girl playing alone. Her blond hair was in ragged pigtails, and her brown dress was dirty and stained. She was sitting under a tree playing with dolls made from twigs. She seemed happy, but something about her drew Rosette in. Lifting her camera, Rosette took a few snapshots of the little girl, and decided that it was time to head home.
    Later that night, Rosette went into her office to look at the pictures she had taken earlier. She popped the memory card into her laptop and began scrolling through them. The first hundred or so were the usual shots, and she idly sipped her wine while glancing through them. When she got to the pictured of the little blond girl, she stopped. Standing above her was the figure of a man, but Rosette knew she didn’t see anyone with her.
    “What the hell?” She wondered as she zoomed in on the figure. His face was blocked by a wide brimmed hat, and his long coat hid any features, but he was obviously watching the little girl play.
    “Maybe he’s just a passerby that I didn’t see.” Rosette took a drink, and kept scrolling.
    But the man was in the next photo, and this time, he was looking at Rosette!
    “Well that’s just….creepy!” Rosette said as she skipped to the next picture. When it popped up, Rosette jumped. Now both the man and the little girl were looking at the camera, like they knew she was there. What frightened Rosette even more was the fact that both of their eyes were glowing red! The man’s face was still hidden in shadow, but the girl had an evil smile on hers. The next picture was similar, except the girl was standing next to the man and pointing at Rosette!
    “What is going on?!” Rosette cried as she stood away from the desk. As she stood up, he hand accidently clicked on the photo, causing the next one to come up. When she saw it, Rosette screamed. In the picture, the man’s face was fully exposed. It was the face of a demon, with red eyes, a white face, and black lips. He was so close he filled up the frame, and he was smiling. Suddenly, the air around her turned dark, and Rosette caught a glimpse of that demon-face right before everything went black.
    The next day, the dirty little girl played under the tree once more. But she wasn’t alone. Standing next to her was a woman with glowing red eyes.

  16. dlyle04

    It had been a hectic year; the one man I had wanted had taken me on a roller coaster ride. He could never decide rather he wanted to be with me or enjoy life as a single man. I knew what I wanted and his indecisiveness drove me up the wall, and to take my mind off him I would draw mostly pictures of him with his olive skin, long dark hair, light brown eyes, warm smile and his beautifully chiseled body.

    He was such a handsome man and every woman he encountered wanted to be with him. Though I could tell his heart was with me, I knew he longed for them. Phone calls stopped and random texts were sent to show a thin thread of interest. Looking at my sketches of him soon became unbearable, so I ventured out with my camera to take more of my award-winning pictures. Being able to capture the beauty of the world made me feel free than when I’m in my studio dealing with a cluttered mind:another abstract painting.

    It was beautiful day, yet I couldn’t help but to feel as if I was being watched. As I looked through my photos, I noticed a man with a newspaper, in a few more shots by the pond, a man peaking from a tree. My heart grew heavy and fear overtook me , “Is there a predator following me?” I heard my doorbell sound. All I could feel was the chiming in my ear and my studio became a surreal blur. I walked slowly to the door and without thinking , I opened the door. To my surprise, it was him…the man I had always wanted. He told me he tried to stay away, but he went to the park just to get a glimpse of me. He said he was in love and tried to deny it to himself. He was finished with the roller coaster ride and ready for me to be his one and only…if only I would have him.

  17. Craig

    I was going to do a photo collage of kids at the park, but in 6 of the pictures was a dark looking stranger with a flash card. At first, I thought he was working with one of the kids. Maybe tutoring a little while playing in the park. I just don’t remember an adult sitting in the sandbox with those children. Especially one dressed in black with combat boots and coat that went down past his knees. I would have been spooked seeing him there, but the children are all laughing in the pictures taking no notice of him. The parents don’t seem to be concerned either. In the background, I see several talking and watching their kids.

    I took a closer look at the flash cards and noticed they had words or pictures on each one. There was a pair of shoes drawn in the act of walking or running, the number 4, an exit sign over a door, a clock drawn to say 8:35, the letter U, and the word IS. It didn’t make sense. But the creepiest part was his eyes. They were staring, like he was seeing me from the picture. I felt goose bumps prick my arms and perspiration bathed my body. I couldn’t break my gaze from those eyes. They drilled through me and chased me through the layers of my inner being. I trouble drawing a breath and my hands were aching from being tightly balled up.

    I jump when the computer beeped, letting me know my brother is Skyping in at the 8pm, like we agreed. I pulled the computer over while I tried to shake off the feelings of dread.

    “Are you feeling ok, Sis? You look white as a sheet!” asked Brian as he came into view.

    “I took some pictures of kids in the park and this guy was there and he creeps me out” I explained, trying to calm my pulse by breathing slowly.

    “All your boyfriends creep mom and dad out. They all look like they are serial killers escaped from the loony bin” teased Brian.

    “Oh, ha, ha! Let me show you the pictures because he has these flash cards with drawings and words. As if he were sending a message” I offered to avoid the discussion of my choice of boys.

    I showed the pictures to Brian, one at a time. We tossed around several theories, but nothing really worked.

    “That guy gives me the creeps. Put them in the order you took them and maybe it will make sense” suggested Brian.

    After I arranged them and let him copy them down, I heard a knock at the door.

    “Strange, I’m not expecting anyone, especially after 8:30. I’ll be right back, Brian” I stated.

    “You know sis, I think I have this figured out. It means ‘Time 4 U is running out’, probably at 8:35. Jules! Don’t open the door!” Brian frantically yelled.

    I said “Don’t what?” as I opened the door to the stranger from the park.

  18. adriannelaray

    The Man in the Park

    “Little girl. Little boy with a dog. Mom and a baby. I keep taking pictures of the same things.”
    “What’s this?
    “It’s a boy building a sandcastle, Stewart.”
    “Who’s that behind him?” Stewart hands her the photo.
    “I don’t know. I don’t remember seeing him when I took this.”
    She continues to go through the photos, looking for something different than the usual park scenes. She finds another photo with the same man. In this one, like the last, he is looking directly into the camera, completely ignoring the fallen skateboarder in front of him. In another photo he is barely there. Barely there as in, she can see through him.
    “Look at this, Stewart.”
    “Did it develop wrong?
    “No, it’s just him.”
    “He’s even more transparent in this one. Can barely make out his clothes. Just his head and hands are obvious.”
    “Help me look through these. See if he’s in anymore of them.”
    They look through the photos again and aren’t disappointed. The man is in three more photos; sometimes he is transparent, another time he is solid. Without time stamps on the photos it is impossible for her to remember which photos came first.
    “And you don’t remember him being there at all?” Stewart asks, handing her the last photo of the man. In this one he is looking away from the camera. He’s looking at something she can’t see.
    “Stewart, if you arrange them this way, looks like he’s turning away from the camera as he’s fading out.”
    “Maybe. Unless it’s the reverse. I wonder who he is. Could be a ghost.”
    “No such thing.” But he did resemble, slightly, a picture of a man she’d seen in last week obituary. “There’re no such things as ghosts.”
    “Alright. Maybe. But hey, it’s late. Come to bed.”
    ****************************************************************************

    “I’ve been watching you, Amanda. In the park. I’ve been following you…”
    “Why? Who are you?”
    “I’m a stranger, to you. And I’m a stranger in need. Can you help me?”
    “Help you, how?
    “Walk with me.”
    He starts to walk away, he doesn’t look back to see if she’s following. Not wanting to be left alone in an unfamiliar place, she does follow. As she takes her third step, she begins to recognize where they are. It’s in the park she was at today, but it’s secluded. Not many people come through this part of the park.
    “What are we doing here?”
    “I need your help with something.”
    “With what?” She is cold and she realizes she is still in her pajamas. She wants to go home.
    “Amanda, look. Do you see it?” She looks and sees nothing. She shakes her head. He touched her shoulder and then she sees.
    “Two men are arguing. One of them, is he you?
    “Do you see it?”
    One man pushes the other to ground and pulls out a gun. He says something she can’t hear and fires the gun at the other man. He starts to back away towards her, and then he turns around.
    “Stewart?”
    “Do you see him? Help me?”

  19. Paulito

    The man is a statue. That’s what you can’t comprehend. And not an actor painted in gray to resemble a statue. No, an actual statue. So how can a stature appear in different exposures, shot in different places, and in different poses? You touched that statue. You climbed on its pedestal, leaned your shoulder against its cold, bronze bulk to steady yourself for a shot into the magnolia blossoms where the grackle roosted. You knew the shot was a little cliché—all beauty is. But you liked it anyway. Black and white shot in black and white. Then as you turned, your eyebrows scraped the chin of this statue, and caused you to think, “This is an interesting angle.” Someone who resembled a young Lincoln. Probably some politician famous to the state, or maybe to the park, mid-nineteenth century or early twentieth—the clothes differ not all that much. You never know. You took that picture. Then you edged around the pedestal, your hands hugging the statue’s hips, your heels hanging over empty space, your toes slowly shuffling you around two sides of the granite cube to bring you to the back of the statue, and you shot again. But here, in the darkroom—not, not even just in the darkroom—you went outside with all those prints—outside, in the sunlight, your prints fully fixed against fading, you saw that the head must have tilted back and to the side. If you have that picture of the base of the skull, you cannot simultaneously have that image of the chin—yet you have both. And in that picture of the pant cuffs, the legs must have been spread about twenty inches, the toes point out about fifteen degrees from the normal between the legs. But when you look at the picture of the picnickers, the statue now relegated to the right midground, the left leg has turned outward, the centerline of its sole now perpendicular to that of the right. But it was bronze. Your camera hit it and you worried the haze filter might crack.
    But nothing had cracked.
    You stand in the midday sun of the Deep South, six black-white prints arrayed in red and white plastic trays that lean between the sidewalk and the base of the wall, and the images almost blind you with their refulgent brightness; they shine slick and wet as worms that wriggle and escape every time you try to grasp them, while you feel in your palms the memory of bronze.

    1. smallster21

      This monologue flowed nicely, and there are beautiful descriptions here. I just wish I knew what was going on with this statute. Is it really moving? What’s its story? Does the MC go back to check it out? Was it just the way the light hit the statue?

  20. smallster21

    Lanette slid her fingers a part, peering through them as if she were ten years old again and her grandfather thought her young mind was mature enough to watch Freddy Krueger chase victims down dark alleyways. Regardless of the protective barrier, the man was still there. Of course dozens of people inhabited the photos, lounging upon lawn chairs and clinking their wine glasses to the Kentmore Philharmonic’s outdoor performance.

    After downing a double shot of Jameson, Lanette reexamined the line of pictures hanging to dry. She had taken them in quick succession. How was this possible? Taunting and inhuman in his movements, he seemed to be hunting her like a jungle cat, she the gazelle, he the cheetah.

    In the first photo, he sat atop the amphitheater ceiling, hunched over and surveying her through slitted eyes. Why was he up there? How did he get up there? A frame later, he was on a tree limb bordering the crowd, the stage lights reflecting off his eyes like black glass, the throng of spectators taking no notice of his presence. The next frame, standing erect a few feet away, he seemed to be seething at her audacity of catching him on film. His hands were clinging to a piece of paper, his elongated, sharp teeth crushing down upon a pen, the black ink sliding down his chin.

    The clothes pin clung to the last photo as she squinted at the image that was surfacing. She sucked in her breath as she read the paper the man was holding out for her to read.

    The bottle of whiskey shattered to the floor as the phone rang.

    “ Dammit.” Lanette swore at her vice dispersing across the floor before picking up her cell. “Chery? What do you want?”

    “Whoa, why so edgy?”

    “Sorry, I’m just…”

    “Tired, ya, you and me both,” Chery lamented before droning on about her disastrous blind date. “Oh, and earlier when I was at the office a man stopped by. He was at the symphony, and wanted to see the photos you took. I gave him your number and studio address.”

    Lanette was used to seeing clients at her studio when she wasn’t in the office, so she knew this shouldn’t make her uneasy. “Did he say when he’d stop by?”

    “Nope. It’s almost midnight, stop working and get your ass in bed.”

    As she set her phone down and kneeled to the floor with a handful of napkins, there came a light rapping on the studio door. The snakes coiled within her stomach, draining the feeling from her limbs as her hands came down upon the glass shards.

    She remained still for several moments, the blood seeping out from beneath her palms, and then started to get up when…

    Bam! Bam! Bam!

    The rapping had turned into ferocious pounding.

    After locking herself in the dark room, Lanette dialed 911, her eyes resting upon that last picture and the man’s message. As the operator picked up, Lanette’s voice stopped imprisoned within her throat as the studio door creaked open. She listened and waited for the sound of footsteps, but none came.

    The silence was pierced by light rapping on the dark room door.

    Tap. Tap. Tap.

    Lanette gripped the phone and clenched her teeth as the doorknob rattled, then stopped. The message from the photo slid through the cracks of the door in a hoarse whisper…”You see me. I see you. Now I want to eat you.”

    1. theafbaker

      Wow! This story sucked me in from the very beginning and I couldn’t wait to find out how it ended! It made me want to know everything about the characters and what happened next! Excellent!

    2. mimipii

      Terrific story. Really gripping. Makes me wanna punch Chery in the nose! Opening paragraph could’ve been more attention catching– I almost didnt read on but was glad I did. Great job

      1. smallster21

        Thanks for reading :) I’m sorry I almost lost you in the opening, lol, I’ll have to think about what I could have done different to catch your attention better. Could it be that the first sentence was way too long and not powerful enough? If you know exactly what it might have been or any suggestions, loved to hear!

    3. Kerry Charlton

      I feel like I’m nine again watching Frankenstein stumbling through the castle towards me, his arms outstretched wanting to grab me and destroy me. My stomach turns as I write this

  21. MCKEVIN

    Saturday…

    I snapped pictures of everything on my walking path. My route connected the cities of Chicago and Evanston. Blue Lake Michigan on one side and a green Catholic cemetery on the other were breathtaking. Art imitated life. At home I popped out the pictures on the computer and noticed a figure standing behind a tall gravestone and then it appeared near the giant rocks on the lake. His clothes worn and he appeared homeless, but clean. I remembered he walked behind the black couple with the white dog. Another picture showed his face focused. I’d know those weary eyes, soft lips and sexy walk anywhere. My mind was like cable news broadcasting 24/7. The more I concentrated, the faster my life’s news stories flashed. I glanced at the other pictures and the word “All” stuck in my psyche. All all al Al Alphonso! ALPHONSO Bolar! I screamed. He was the love of my life that I’d met at a sixties concert where Mick Jagger and Sly and the Family Stone performed on the same stage. Our favorite song was “I want to take you higher.” It was over ten years ago when we ate fried shrimp at Navy Pier, drank Sangria at the Blues festivals and put love notes in the wine bottles. Al had the heartiest laugh, the biggest smile and could make love for hours. Oh my God! I remembered why our relationship ended. A piling of two by fours fell on him at a construction site that left him partially paralyzed. He wasn’t able to perform sexually and he was angry all the time. I dealt with it better than he did because I’d learned to love him the person and not what he could and couldn’t do. Also, I preferred being satisfied in another manner. Eventually, Al told me he “needed his space.” He’d been the kindest, caring and sexiest man I’d known. I reluctantly honored his request and moved on. I recalled the news reporting he’d received a large settlement and was accused of rape around the same time he’d received his money. I knew he didn’t do it. Various medias showed him emotionally broken as he’d fought legal battles. I’d tried calling, writing and visiting him but he was never home and he never answered my calls or letters. I studied the pictures again and couldn’t sleep. Was Al trying to find me or had my mind played tricks with me? I poured a glass of wine and pushed the radio on. “Sitting in the park waiting for you” played and I decided right then, to return to the lakefront.

    Sunday…

    Runners ran while mourners mourned and placed colorful flowers on graves across from the blue lake where I sat. The area was filled with life but no signs of Al. I noticed a wine bottle nearby with papers in it. I convinced myself it couldn’t be from Al. Could it? I grabbed the bottle and shook it…I’m sorry, not enough words to tell you what happened.

    1. smallster21

      Loved all the details, Jagger, shrimpies, Sangria, etc. I like specifics, makes the story more real and relatable.

      I giggled at the sentence, “A piling of two by fours fell on him at a construction site that left him partially paralyzed.” That sentence just came out of nowhere. I think if the exclamation “Oh my God!” were nixed, it would make it more serious. It seemed odd that somebody would forget something like that…unless the MC is at the age of forgetfullness, then that would make sense. And I don’t believe the rape charges. The man’s paralyzed, right? I don’t think it moves the story along and the story flows well without that bit (unless it has something to do with this mysterious note).

      I liked the image you were painting in the last paragraph. Very nice and peaceful. I could see the setting clearly. But, come on! What’s on the note? Lol :) I personally invite you to post what’s on that note!

    2. theafbaker

      Great story and awesome ending, even though I agree with the other comment…I want to know what’s in the note! But I’ll just pretend the two get together in the end :)

  22. shethra77

    The Man in the Park

    She stared at the six photos, trying to remember the man shown in them. His clothing looked odd, old, as if his clothes were made in Victorian times. All the pictures showed the same man standing there in the park, head tipped back, seemingly gazing into the cherry blossoms that gently rained petals to the grass. No petals had rained onto him. The rich wine tones of his waistcoat and the dark material of his suit were unsullied. She zoomed in on his face, and started when she brought up the last one—he was staring right at her. Why had she not noticed before?

    Perhaps it was merely because she had been too caught up in the peculiarity of finding him at all. Laura was sure that she had never seen this man. She remembered a few joggers, a young mother with her two boys who scrambled over the playground equipment, a man playing frisbee with his Irish setter, the dog leaping, twisting, gleefully catching the toy. Hard as she tried, she could not recall the man in the antique suit. Yet here he stood in six pictures she herself had taken, obviously enjoying the rejuvenated spring trees.

    Laura zoomed out of the last photo slightly, centered his face, and studied it. He was a handsome man: dark brushed straight back, deep brown eyes. The nose was long, the cheekbones high, and his expression open and intelligent. Zooming out again and flipping through the photos, she saw the way he stood, as if he would rise into the tree–until the last, when he was turned directly toward her.

    Why were there were no more images of him? Images 57 through 62 clearly showed him there, and she had more of the same spot in images 63 through 78. Not one of those showed the stranger. He was there and gone, only accidentally registering as light and shadow for a few captured moments.

    She could not believe her powers of observation were so poor. Shrugging into her jacket and grabbing her camera, Laura headed back to the park. The shadows had grown long, and the shafts of sunlight shone straight into her eyes. But she found the old cherry tree. She stared up, then looked down. At the foot of the tree there was a metal plaque caught up in its gnarly roots.

    Brushing away the excess mulch obscuring the words, she read, “To the sacred memory of James Lynn Cleland, member of this congregation. 1853-1887.” She felt a brush of melancholy. The church he had belonged to was gone. At least some of the grounds had become part of the park. Laura looked at the name again. Deep in the back of her mind, she thought she heard someone say another name.

    “Jamie.”

    “Good evening to you, Jamie Cleland,” she said. She touched the plaque briefly, lightly, and headed back home.

  23. mimipii

    There is a reason art galleries across the country pay big bucks for my photographs. I don’t mean to brag, but my pictures capture depth of emotion that has never before been caught in such clarity.
    It was early Monday morning and I was doing my thing, concentrating intensely and snapping away at the lens. After a couple hours I decided to wrap up for the day and head back to my studio to develop them. I practically skipped the few blocks to my office, so sure this latest batch would rake in the dough big time.
    I danced my way up in the elevator to my studio and did a pirouette in the foyer. My fingers were just itching to develop those pics.
    It was only when I was I exited my lab and sat down at my desk to really look at the snapshots that I realized something odd. Off to the side in several of my best shots was a transparent figure. He was floating a couple feet off the ground and staring at me with a menacing glare. As I stared, chills ran up and down my spine as it slowly registered in my spooked out mind who the figure was. My grumpy next door neighbor. Yeah, the one who always complains about everything from the garbage to the barely audible noise in my apartment.
    Mr. Slark was the last person I’d expect to see like that. Mainly, it was because when I left my loft to go to work today he was very much alive ranting and raving to anyone that would listen about the rent prices nowadays.
    My mind was racing as I tried to think logically. Who do I go to with these pictures? What if my mind was playing tricks on me and it wasn’t Mr. Slark? What if it wasn’t a ghost after all? Should I make a fool out of myself and show them to the cops?

    1. MCKEVIN

      Very good. I wish you had continued because I think Mr. Slark died trying to help the MC. What do you think happened next? You have about 175 words left and I wonder what would you do w ith them. Good job.

    2. smallster21

      I can relate with your MC, I dance and prance around too when I’m excited, no joke! Lol, nice imagery, I could see the MC pirouetting with glee. If I were the MC I’d go next door and bang on Mr. grumpy’s door to see if his grumpy butt is still alive. Agree with MCKEVIN, you had room to add on and further the story.

      …try to avoid clichés when possible (chills running up the spine), try to invoke the feeling of terror by building up the tension, using imagery and action to show us the MC’s fear, which you were invoking when you described what the MC was seeing in the photo.

  24. douglangille

    MASON’S BAD DEATH
    ==================

    Mason’s cigarette burned idly away in the ashtray on his normally well-ordered desk. There wouldn’t be much left of the smoke before it was gone, and the same was true for Mason. His pulse slowed as blood seeped out from under him. He didn’t panic even as he felt the sticky mess pooling about his midriff. He knew the truth of things. No, it wouldn’t be very long at all.

    The man he now knew to be Alan Maynard stepped over his waning body to rifle through the case files on his desk. Of course, what he was looking for was on top and open. Alan had no trouble collecting the photo hard-copies, confirming what he already suspected. Mason had caught him on camera. Both men had been tailing the same witness, an unassuming woman named Edie Parker. Mason’s motives were pure. John had called in a favour as he thought her to be in danger. Clearly she was. Mason and John had met with her last week when John was up. They told her of their plan to watch and protect her. They promised her she’d be safe. Who was going to do that now?

    Edie was at the park yesterday afternoon with her daughter. It was a perfect sunny day. As he snapped pictures of the other parents in the park, Mason remembered thinking how special and vibrant a four-year-old can be. He was estranged from his own children after his marriage collapsed. It wasn’t likely that there would be any reconciliation at this point. Damn.

    Alan was busy collecting the files, pictures, camera and flash drives. He tossed them into a wastepaper basket at the center of the room. He then put on an aspirator, took several cans of lighter fluid from his messenger bag and started dousing everything flammable in the small office. Mason regretted being a packrat as the smell of butane filled the room. His clothing received more than its fair share of the accelerant.

    His assailant took a device out of the bag, a simple assemblage of blasting caps and a cheap cellphone. He carefully balanced it on a folded newspaper across the wastebasket. Alan turned to survey his handiwork and walked through his mental checklist. He nodded and smiled. Alan turned to the dying man and said, “so long, fucker.” Alan Maynard, heir-apparent to the empire, locked the door and left.

    Mason was alone and helpless. While he was quite used to taking care of himself, being unable to do so was not something to which he was accustomed. All that could be done was hope that John got his voicemail in time to save Edie and Sarah. He was in the middle of emailing the evidence package when Alan burst through the door. For the life of him, whatever was left anyway, he couldn’t recall whether or not he hit ‘send’.

    It no longer mattered for Mason. He was finished. Amid the blood loss and the excruciating pain, tempered only by shock’s mercy, he forced his eyes closed and waited. The dreaded contraption made one chirp before Mason’s world went white hot, sending him to oblivion.

    1. MCKEVIN

      Very good. I kept hoping someone who burst in and at least save Mason. I’m going to blow up some of my characters too. Lol. Good Blog too by the way. Good job.

    2. smallster21

      Oh yea! That’s what I’m talking about! A man’s cigarette burning out just as his life is bleeding out upon the floor! Great beginning, pulled me in right away! I like that you used ‘one chirp’ in the last sentence. I could hear the little beep like a birdie before everything exploded.

  25. dford

    Thank you all very much for your interest and kind words. I look forward to enjoying the fruits of your labor as well. I believe I’m going to like it here! As far as a continuum, it may or may not evolve. I believe the story finds you.

  26. randi100

    Going to the park to take pictures is the most relaxing thing that I can do for myself. All of my troubles go away and I can be at peace. I spent an hour there today taking pictures of the trees, the sky, the birds and even a cute squirrel that seemed to pose for me. I went back to the studio to develop them right away. They were pretty good if I do say so myself. I laid them out all around me after they were developed. I had the perfect landscape shots, or so I thought. I saw something off to the side in a few of them. I looked closer and saw a figure. It looked like a man. I never even noticed him while I was taking the pictures.
    “What the heck?” I thought
    “Where did he come from?”
    A knock at the door startled me. I went and opened the door and found my brother there.
    “Hey Jane, what’s up?” He asked.
    “You have perfect timing!” I exclaimed.
    “I just stopped by to see if you want to go to the bar tonight after my shift.” He said.
    He was already in his police officers uniform.
    “Sure, but you have to do me a favor now” I told him.
    I showed him my pictures of the trees, birds, and even the cute squirrel. Then I showed him the strange ones with the mystery man.
    He looked them over a few times with a really weird look on his face.
    “I need to take these with me to work.” Bobby said.
    “What? Why?” I enquired.
    “Because I think you just helped me solve a case and it could get me promoted to detective!” He shouted.
    “What are you talking about?” I asked.
    “You know that unsolved case that has been all over the news?” He asked.
    “You mean the one with the guy that’s been stalking women in the local parks?” “The one that kidnapped that lawyer?” “The one that hasn’t been caught yet?” I asked all in one breath.
    “Yes that one!” He said.
    Bobby took the pictures, ran out and shouted “I will call you later!”
    I stood there in stunned silence. I then waited and waited and waited.
    Four hours later the phone rang.
    “I owe you a bottle of champagne !” The voice on the other end of the line said.
    “Bobby?” I asked.
    “NO, it’s Billy Joel. Yes, it’s Bobby” “I brought the photos in and showed the chief” “We blew them up and the guy matched the description of the sicko.” “We are tracking his location now. As soon as we find him I will get that promotion for sure!” “Thanks sis!”
    “No problem. Call me later.” I said into the phone.
    “This is crazy.” I thought.
    “I wonder what I will find the next time I go to the park?” “Maybe Bobby and I should open our own detective agency!”
    “Sis and bro investigations has a nice ring to it!” I pondered

    1. MCKEVIN

      Nice. I wanted something to happen to the brother and then the sister would have to rely on the negatives which she momentarily forgot she had. Good one.

    2. smallster21

      Holy canoli! I got goose bumps as soon as Bobby said “I need to take these with me to work.” Great little story here and I enjoyed their sibling relationship. Wish my brother was that enthusiastic about sister-brother time, lol!

  27. theafbaker

    The mug of coffee slipped from the woman’s grasp shattering at her feet. She didn’t flinch.

    “It can’t be him,” she whispered, but as the sun shined through her apartment window, casting a spotlight on the picture, it only further illuminated the man’s features.

    The angle of his jaw, his lips curled in a half smile, the kindness and love in his tired eyes. He’d aged, but so had she.

    She frantically spread out all the photos she had taken earlier that morning, desperately casting aside images of children on swings and an older man feeding the pigeons. Then she saw his face again, and again, six photos total, all with his image. Laying them side by side, she noticed the piece of paper in his hands, first flat, then as the pictures progress, he started to fold it into an origami bird, like the ones he used to make for her, back when they talked about spending their lives together. In the last picture he reached up and placed the delicate paper figure onto the branch of an oak tree.

    Without hesitation, she stumbled into her shoes and raced out the door, back to the park. She looked around, ignoring the happy families picnicking and kids tossing Frisbees. Then she spotted the oak tree. Tears clouded her vision as she walked toward it, spotting the white bird. It had been ten years, ten lonely years since he walked out of her life. A part of her said to walk away, leave the past in the past, but she couldn’t. She still loved him.

    She stood on her tip toes to reach the bird but just as her fingertips brushed the paper, a rough hand grasped her wrist and yanked it behind her. She let out a whimper as pain shot through her arm.

    “We got her,” the man relayed the information to the other agents, anxiously waiting in an unmarked van.

    “What? What’s going on?” she asked as the man pushed her forward, out of the park. “Who are you?”

    “FBI,” he replied in an icy tone. “We know all about your past and thanks to the corporation of your former partner, we now have all the evidence we need to send you away for good.”

    “What? Wait….” She squirmed but the FBI Agent only tightened her grasp. As they headed toward the van, she desperately tried to process the information. Her mind raced, and she looked around for a way out, an escape. Instead, she saw him, standing next to the van, a mix of sadness and victory in his glassy stare.

    “How could you?” she screamed and for a moment, she thought she saw wrinkles of regret crease his forehead, but they faded quickly. He straightened his back and looked her square in the eye.

    “What can I say, Babe?” he smirked. “It was either you or me.”

    1. MCKEVIN

      I like this too and I hoped it would turn into a love story. I wish you’d explained what they or “she” did. Good job drawing your audience in as you can see by the other comments.

    2. smallster21

      Love the little origami detail, neat idea. I agree with everyone else, the ending was a nice twist I didn’t see coming. Wander what this criminal duo couple did in their past to get the FBI after them, interesting.

  28. Gianni Beau

    It was Saturday and I went into the park to take some photos. A photographer friend suggested to me to try taking pictures without looking where I was shooting. It sounded like an interesting idea so I set my camera to take a shot every 30 seconds and I held my camera at my side with the strap wrapped around my wrist. It was a beautiful spring day and I bathed in the warm sunlight after the winter cold.

    Later, after returning to my apartment, I loaded the pictures into my computer. I had over a hundred photos and I spent time looking at them. Because I had purposely not looked where I was pointing the camera, I had a delightful time discovering things that I had not been aware of during my walk. Also, most of the photos were at an angle because of my swinging arm and were like a dance as I move through them.

    The pictures showed what you would expect of a sunny afternoon in the park. There were many children with a parent or guardian. A man with a large leather case. People with dogs. The same man with the leather case. Because I was walking on the road there were lots of bicycle riders. The man with the case who seemed to be keeping pace with me although he was following the foot path. The roller bladders with their elbow and knee pads. The very strong man with the case, his arm bulging from the weight of the case. There were many trees with white blossoms. I remembered the scent they gave off as I walked through the park. The man with the case buying a soda from a vendor. Lovers walking very closely together. The man leaving the park at 72nd Street. Views of the boat pond as I began walking back home.

    For some reason, the man with the heavy leather case bothered me. After running it through my mind for some time I decided to let it go. I had some interesting photos to show to my photographer friend to see what she thought.

    The next morning the radio reported that a couple coming home from a movie had been gunned down by a rifle on 71st Street. I immediately thought of the man with the leather case. I should tell the police about the pictures I had taken. Then I thought again that perhaps I was getting into something I should keep my nose out of.

    They never found the killer and I sometimes think I should tell the police about the pictures I took, but I hesitate before getting myself into something I might come to regret. The man with the case moved into my building last week.

    1. MCKEVIN

      What was the connection between the man with briefcase and the killer? I liked the story and end twist just didn’t get the connection. Good job. I actually think the lady is the killer and the man with the suitcase is the one who actually has proof in the briefcase. Lol. Good one.

    2. smallster21

      Nice little story you have here. I did get the creepy vibe from him, but people with briefcases are not that uncommon, so I think it could enhance the story if you made his appearance more distinct somehow, whether it be his clothes, a mannerism, a facial feature, etc, something that would definitely set him apart in a news report. Enjoyed reading :)

  29. don potter

    I studied each of the half-dozen photos of a man taken in the park earlier that day. He was quite normal in every way except for his eyes, which stared back at me with an intensity I had never seen before.

    The eyes beckoned for me to come closer. As I did, they seemed to focus attention back at me. It was as if I could see into my very soul — a frightening experience, because there was much hidden within me that I choose not to look at. Not now. Maybe never.

    There was a knock on my apartment door. It startled me. I dropped the photographs on the floor and hastened to see who the unwelcome visitor might be. I crossed the room, feeling as if my own fears were in pursuit. The few steps seemed to take forever.

    I peered through the peephole only to be greeted by the mirror eyes of the man in the park and knew it was time to reflect on my life before it was too late.

  30. rubystambaugh

    “I see you’re puzzled by my photos.”
    I spun around. The park guy was standing in my photo shop entrance doorway.
    “How did you get in here?” I said. “The door’s locked.”
    “Yeah. Anyway, you look confused. I thought maybe I could explain.”
    “Well, since you’re already in here…in each of these photos you seem to be doing something different – moving forward – but in a certain pattern.”
    I laid out the photos.
    “See? Here and here and here.”
    “That’s the problem,” he said. “You’re looking at them wrong. Have you ever seen a flipbook?”
    “You mean like in the old days? Where you’d take a stack of drawings or still photos and flip through them?”
    “Yes.”
    “And they’d create the illusion you were watching like a mini-movie right in your hand?”
    “Exactly. Here – let me put the photos in order for you.”

    When he finished he handed me the stack.
    “Now flip them.”
    I did.
    “What did you see?”
    “Your right arm – you kept poking and jabbing with it.”
    “Very good. So what do you think?”
    “Pretty cool.”
    “Thank you.”
    “So is that it? Is that the whole movie?”
    “Not quite. You left the park before I could finish. There’s one more photo for the movie ending. Would you mind taking it in here?”
    “Of course not. Actually I’m kinda curious to see how this ends.”

    I got out my camera. He stood in front of me.
    “Ready?”
    “Ready.”

    “Say ‘Cheese’!” he said, and lunged at me with his hunting knife.

    1. MCKEVIN

      This was the good of the sickest kind and I love it. I have tried to show another writer who posts here that senoir citizens can put up a good fight, children can ghosts and fierce cops can be gay. Your story follows those themes. You and dford only used 252 words. Did you two have a meeting and agree on the number of words to use? Lol. Good story. I hope you, like I asked dford continue it. Good job.

  31. Jiayo

    Hey everyone, this is my first time posting here! I’m not very happy with what I’ve written, but any writing is practice. Any feedback is appreciated!
    ___________________
    The Shifter

    I walked into the enviro-dome that day ready to try my brand new digital camera. Well…not really brand new, it was an antique I had purchased from ol’ Jason’s quiet, dark shop. That place was filled with ancient wonders; it boggled my mind how people used to use these things all the time. Despite how horrendously simple this device was, it, like most antiques, had stories of a time long since passed, of lives long since gone. Their memories existed as only fragments, stories locked away, accessible only when you had the right key. The right antique.
    The enviro-dome was beautiful today, as it always was. There were hundreds of flowers, bright red and pink roses, yellow and purple tulips, and even some gorgeous snap dragons. There were birds too, finches and blue jays, although I wasn’t sure if they were real or just holograms.
    I sat down on an old oak bench, dedicated to the memory of the politician, Margett Colas, who had begun the enviro-dome movement. She thought that everyone should experience nature in all its majesty. I think she was right.
    I pulled out my camera, fumbled with it a bit to get everything working, and took a couple of pictures of the roses. I took some of a bridge which hung over a gentle stream as well. All in all I thought I had done well, given the clumsiness of the device.
    When I arrived at my home I tried putting them into an information processor, and here something strange happened. For the most part, the pictures were as expected; they showcased the vibrant nature of the dome quite well, although they were only in 2D. The weird part was a man. He wore clothing that matched what I had seen in history data transfers about the days when this camera was in use, about 200 years ago. Odder still, the man’s shape seemed strange, it was as if he was made of 1 part ink, and the ink was bleeding into the air around him. It was subtle, but definitely there.
    Then I remembered a story I heard about in school about what they called “Shifters.” People who, for whatever reason, reach though the barriers of time-space. The transition was never complete though, they only came through in certain situations, like phantoms which could only be called upon by a certain medium. If this really was a shifter, then perhaps it came through the camera, maybe it even owned the camera. The thought sent a chill through my body. I knew, of course, that antiques had been owned by someone once, but to see this person and to know that he was there in the enviro-dome, at least in some form, was terrifying.
    I couldn’t deal with knowing that this camera could bring back the dead. I had to throw it away. I kept the pictures though. I had thrown away the key, but kept what lay beyond the door.

    1. smallster21

      I liked your description “he was made of 1 part ink, and the ink was bleeding into the air around him,” painted a vivid image of this man. Suggestion, I think the story could benefit from cutting unnecessary words. For example “When I arrived at my home…” should just be “When I arrived home” and “a story I heard about in school about what they called ‘Shifters” could be “a story from school regarding ‘Shifters”. Simple, nitpicky, maybe, but it flows nicer and gets rid of words that aren’t really doing anything. Work on cutting out those words, and then slowing the story down, it felt rushed. I do like the tone and mood you were invoking with the antique camera.

  32. Khurshid

    Very short and sweet piece of writing. I too would like to know what happens next. It would make a very interesting short story. The meeting between the father and daughter, the long lost relationship taking on a new turn.
    Good Job! Keep it up.

  33. don potter

    I looked and re-looked at each of the half-dozen photos taken in the park. The man was quite normal in every way except for his eyes, which stared back at me with an intensity I had never seen before.

    The eyes beckoned for me to come closer. As I did, they seemed to focus attention back at me. It was as if I could see into my very soul. A frightening experience, because there was much hidden within me that I choose not to look at. Not now. Maybe never.

    There was a knock on my apartment door. It startled me. I dropped the photographs on the floor and hastened to see who the unwelcome visitor might be. I crossed the room quickly, as if my own fears were in pursuit. The few steps seemed to take forever.

    I peered through the peephole only to be greeted by those mirror eyes and knew it was time to reflect on my life before it was too late.

  34. swatchcat

    She leaned back against one of the developing tables examining six photos out of the batch. He was in each one and he seemed as if he was looking right through her. He was there, close up by the carousel, in the shadows of the Loch, sitting at a bench by the Alice in Wonderland statue. She had been all over the park trying to catch unique bits of light, losing herself in random parts of the park. She really noticed it with the shots by Harlem Meer. Most of the guys fishing didn’t stop as they concentrated on their lures but one shot had this guy literally leaning out of the tall grass to look at her.

    She concentrated as she prepped another copy trying to focus more on his face. Without a thought she dipped and rinsed then hung another and waited. She leaned back, arms crossed, lips pinched. Slowly his face took shape, his eyes peering at her.

    “What do you want? Who are you?” She spoke aloud reaching for her wine glass and gulping down the last bit. She needed more to figure this out. She checked her chemicals, flicked the switch and exited the closet.

    She tilted the box of Chablis over the glass waiting for the last drips to drain out then headed for the fire escape and any breeze that would be cooler than the sauna her apartment had become. She reached in and pulled her lamp out to take another look at the snapshots, sipping and contemplating. “Who are you?” She fell asleep to the lullaby of sirens, gunshots, and the earth shaking “L” train. Tomorrow she was going back.

    Grabbing her camera and 35mm film roles, she headed out. It was a new day and after she grabbed her stock shots, she planned to head back to the park. Would she see him again? Once she got to the park, she headed for Still Hunt and after an hour found she had wandered to Bridge No. 24. By the time she was done, she had hundreds of shots. Confused that she didn’t see anything unusual she headed for the nearest subway and home.

    Cheeks red with sun, she sat Indian style on the floor, photos spread out while she munched on Coco Puffs when she saw him. Smack dab in the center, he was there and this time he was holding something. She took her magnifier and examined closely. The paper he held said Cop Cot 6 o’clock alone. She gulped her wine, “oh shit.”

    She rounded the rustic ruins and waited for him. There weren’t very many people around.
    A voice came from behind, “Are you spontaneous?”

    “Yes.”

    “Close your eyes, and kiss me.”

    “But?” She turned quickly. No one was there.

    The voice was behind her, “One last time. Kiss me.”

    “Okay.” She closed her eyes and they kissed. “More.”

    He took her in the Cop Cot and left. “I will see you again.”

    Sidebar it’s been a beautiful day:

    A rectangle spot of sunlight shown on the floor by the front door, she stopped and watched the shimmering black reflection of leaves from the front yard and listen to the waves of wind sweep through the giant oaks. The curtains swayed and the cool breeze wafted around the corner from the open door. This quiet moment with nature needed more time to appreciate so she moved from the sofa and lay in the swath of sun warming every ounce of her body.

    1. MCKEVIN

      swatchcat, you know I like the way you write right? But is this a dream that you’ll explain in another piece? The details and imagery all on point but I’m not sure for what? Did I miss something?

      1. swatchcat

        Sorry guys. The woman is alone in a big city/freelance photographer andvery “spontanious”. The guy was meant to be real and random who had kind of spotted her from afair and took a chance. Purely random hot sexy. It could have gone a million ways but I chose two strangers in passing. I guess too much scenery and not enough explaination.

    2. smallster21

      Lol, are we all stereotyping? Do photographers drink or something? All the stories I’ve read so far, somebody is drinking. I threw whiskey in mine before even reading any on here. Lol!

      I liked your descriptions, and could feel the ambiance you were invoking in the last paragraph. It’d be nice to hear more about what this mystery man looks like. What it is about the man that attracts her? What is he doing? He has to be super hot for her to go meet a random stranger. Definitely want to hear more about his sex appeal. I liked how you had her ask the man questions as she looked at his photos. I could see her standing there trying to figure out the mystery man. Interesting story, enjoyed :)

    3. Kerry Charlton

      I don’t know why I haven’t read this before. All the explanations below are out the window. I’m still looking at you laying in the sun on a hardwood floor. The story I mean.

  35. don potter

    I looked and re-looked at each of the half-dozen photos taken in the park. The man was quite normal in every way except for his eyes, which stared back at me with an intensity I had never seen before.

    The eyes beckoned for me to come closer. As I did, they seemed to redirect their focus back at me. It was as if I could see into my very soul. A frightening experience, because there was much hidden within me that I choose not to look at. Not now. Maybe never.

    My concentration was interrupted by a knock at the apartment door. It startled me. I dropped the photographs on the floor and hastened to see who the unwelcome visitor might be. I crossed the room quickly as if my own fears were pursuing me. The few steps seemed to take forever.

    I peered through the peephole only to be greeted by the mirror eyes of the man in the park and knew it was time to reflect on my life before it was too late.

  36. hdarling

    After a long hot day spent wandering through Ashland Park in Oregon, I returned to my studio to develop the photos I’d taken. Several were of kids along the shore of the little lake, launching small sailboats or watching them sink. Other favorites were of dogs playing with other dogs, licking kids’ faces, jumping up on resistant girls in pretty dresses, or straining at their leashes.
    But among the photos that turned out well, I couldn’t recall snapping six of them. In each, a man stood somewhere in the frame. In most of them I could see his full face or a good profile. I didn’t recognize him, but had the strangest feeling that I had seen him before.
    These photos stood out because something about each one seemed slightly off. After studying them for some time, I went to the negatives to see what pictures were adjacent. Surprisingly, each photo was next to at least three others that I did recall snapping. What could it mean, I wondered.
    Thinking about the day, I went through the negatives once again, but each photo of this strange man was apparently out of context with the other photos. I studied the six photos again, concentrating on the face of the man. I was certain I had never seen him before, but I was equally certain that there was something odd about him.
    The first picture showed the stranger sitting on a bench gazing off to my left, toward the skyline of the city. He wore khaki shorts and a brown and beige striped tee-shirt, and glasses. He seemed about six feet tall and in good physical condition, though no serious muscular definition was apparent. In the second photo, he stood beside a tree, and the next photo showed him climbing a low hill about ten feet from me, looking back over his shoulder, his manner pleasant and unconcerned.
    He was talking with a woman in the fourth picture, who was pointing off to her right, possibly giving him directions. He was smiling, and I thought a magnifying glass might help me figure out who he was. I got a glass from the darkroom but nothing about the man’s face clarified who he was.
    The last photo showed the man very close to me, but turned slightly away so that only a three-quarter profile could be discerned.
    I thought about these photos for the next few hours, studying them over and over, and trying my hardest to figure out who he was. But it wasn’t until I startled awake at 3:45 the next morning that I had a clue. I had dreamed of this man and in my dream, he sat at a desk, his head bent over a document. He had a quill pen in his hand and seemed to be signing the document. Suddenly, I recognized him. He was the actor who had portrayed President Lincoln in the movie I had watched just three nights ago.

  37. sarthur

    “Ok Nicole I’ll meet you at seven for dinner but I don’t want to talk about Craig. Promise me.”

    “Promise. Don’t forget to bring my the camera I lent you last week. I have a shoot very early in the morning. See you at seven Megan.”

    “Speaking of cameras Nicole, I have some photos I shot at the park the other day that I want to show you. There’s this man, dressed in clothes that look very old, like from some other era, he’s in several of my shots. Each shot though has a faint glow, very odd, because the sunlight was blocked by a large area of trees.”

    “Maybe it was just the angle of your shot. Some reflection off the lake behind the trees.”

    “I don’t know, but I felt very peaceful each time I looked over at him, even though I couldn’t make out his face clearly. When I finished taking the pictures I started walking towards him and he seemed to glide away. But I found a small white piece of linen on the ground where he had been standing.”

    “Megan you may have been in the sun too long. I’ll see you later. Bring the camera and photos. Bye.”

    1. smallster21

      I don’t know how I feel about only using dialogue to tell a story, but it seems you were able to portray that something was going on here, so that is good. Really though, there isn’t much of a plot working here, I think you had plenty of room to jazz it up and flesh it out.

    2. MCKEVIN

      Megan could shake the feeling about the man in the pictures. She stopped by the spot in the park where she saw the man and sure enough the man was there and….

      Now you finish it sarthur… you have some good ideas going on here, you just need to tighten them up a bit. Good job.

  38. asiegel7

    Jacob made her laugh and just thinking about him made Cassie smile. They had spent a robust afternoon of frolicking and playing in the park yesterday and Cassie couldn’t wait to see how the pictures turned out considering she used an old 35mm camera. Cassie picked up the photos and a memory book from the store and decided she’d make him photo album he could keep at work of the two of them. Jacob had a habit of surprising her with flowers and showered her with tiny gifts all the time. He made her feel special and she wanted this memory book to make him feel special too.
    After struggling at the door with groceries and wrestling with the doorknob and plunked the bag of groceries on the couch beside her. She made two piles of stuff: one that went into the fridge and the other pile of scrapbooking material. Jacob was working a double shift today so she wouldn’t see him again until tomorrow. Perfect timing to get the memory book finished. She had taken four rolls of film but Cassie was sure most of them wouldn’t turn out.
    After she put the food away and took out a wine glass out of the dingy cupboard she shook her head because no matter how many times she had scrubbed the apartment down with bleach the tiny studio apartment never seemed to get cleaned. Normally just looking at the cupboard would send her into a cleaning frenzy but not tonight. Cassie poured a large glass of wine and cracked the seal on the packages of pictures. Each photo looked spectacular. This was going to be hard to choose which picture made it to the book.
    After a couple glasses of wine Cassie got to the third package she noticed that one of the pictures had captured a strange man in the corner of one of the pictures. Cassie realized that she must have captured his photo in few pictures and after searching the pictures she found that he was in six of the photographs. Each one showing him walking away from the edge of wooded area in the park and when she took the pictures and flipped them quickly and she noticed he was looking back and forth as he walked away and in the last photo it felt like he looked straight into the lens of her camera. His eyes were filled with so much hate she scattered the photos around the room.
    Cassie scrambled to pick up the photos and got out her magnifying glass out of the drawer. What was he doing in the woods? And who is this guy? She examined the first photo and noticed that as he walked away from the brush that she saw something white on the ground. Using the magnifying lens it looked more like a shoe. She examined the man closer and realized that it was the man she passed in the hall just before she had opened her door.

    1. MCKEVIN

      The man in the hall was her neighbor? What was the white stuff on the ground? Why was her neighbor in park watching her take pictures of Jacob? Is he the father Jacob never knew? Is he the man that saw Jacob killing the stray dog in the park where the pictures were taken? I bet Cassie used to be a hooker didn’t she? And the man felt he paid too much for her services didn’t he and he wanted some of his money back? This was good but not complete. Good job and please, keep writing.

  39. dford

    I couldn’t wait to get home to visualize what was a bit more than just an ordinary day at the park. The spring air and the smell of freshly cut grass engrossed me. There was certainly no shortage of options. As I walked toward the gazebo, I encountered an elderly man with his dog. I introduced myself and learned that his name was James. There was something hauntingly familiar about him, though, I was sure I’d never really known him. He went on and on about his favored companion. I begged his pardon and asked if I could take a photo of him with his beloved pet. As he reached for champ, I noticed a tattoo on his forearm, it was that of a heart with the name “Rose.” He noticed my glance and said Rose was the nickname he’d given his daughter. He explained he’d never gotten to meet her because he lost touch with her mother after the war. I smiled and took the photos. I feverishly developed those photos as I could not shake this feeling of adrenaline and familiarity. I rummaged through some old family photos of which I’d had only one of my estranged father, “James.,” It can’t be him I thought. My name is Emily. I don’t know of any “Rose.” Finally, I found it. My hands shook as I stared at the young man in the photo. I gingerly turned it over. The inscription behind it, read, “To My Little Emily Rose, Love Dad.”

    1. sarthur

      I enjoyed reading your story. There’s a bit of mystery and my curiosity was aroused. I think you developed the writing prompt into a story that flowed and kep my interest enough as to wanting to know what happens next.

    2. MCKEVIN

      Awww… this was good. You had me at “hauntingly familar.” But I actually thought it was going to have a bad ending. Well done. Note: You only used 252 words. I like I’m sure many others, want to know what happens next. Did she go back to the park and find her father or was he gone forever? Did she go back and only “Champ” was there? Did “Champ” lead her to James who was dying for some reason or the other? Good story and I hope you add more to it.

    3. mimipii

      Somewhere in middle there, I guessed the ending but twas a lovely story. You definitely could’ve expanded it and drawn it out more to keep the reader guessing. Good job though.

  40. Ptiadactyl

    Crystal was studying the man further when the jingle of her studio door sounded. As her studio was closed for minor construction, she knew it was her mother. She checked her watch, only to find that her mother was a little late. As always. She hopped off the stool to go greet her.
    “This place is a sty,” was Beatrice’s way of greeting. It was complete with a scrunched up nose, as if there was a smell.
    “Well, construction is a messy process.” She hugged her mother, and hoped that it would be a good visit. They didn’t always meet eye to eye on everything. In fact, they rarely ever did; Especially when it came to Crystal’s photography studio, Crystal Clear. Beatrice would have liked Crystal to be in a more stable job, but she wanted to follow her own passions, even if it meant taking out a loan she would be paying off for a few years.
    “The studio was just fine the way it was.”
    Crystal rolled her eyes. “I just have a few shots I wanted to show you. I was out taking a few this morning in the park. It’ll be a good place to start for engagement photos, I think.”
    It said a lot about Crystal to offer doing her otherwise expensive engagement package for her mother for free. And whether Beatrice liked to admit it or not, and quite frankly she didn’t, she knew her daughter was very good at what she did. She had only hoped it would be more of a hobby than a career.
    Crystal laid out all the angles she got, and her mother browsed through them. It was hard to tell how she felt about them. She never gave any emotion away on her face. She merely skimmed along, humming over the photographs. Crystal had always hated that about her mother. She had stopped trying to read her years ago, and just let her take her time.
    “Which park did you say you were at?” Beatrice asked suddenly. She gripped Crystal’s wrist tightly.
    “The one by the lake… Is everything okay?”
    “That man,” she said as she pointed to the stream of photos that Crystal had previously been examining.
    “Do you know him?” Crystal cut in hurriedly. “He’s in a few shots, and I can’t remember where I might know him from.”
    Beatrice waited a long moment before she spoke again, only raising Crystal’s anxiety level. She pursed her lips, and brought her gaze from the picture up to her daughter’s eyes.
    “That man is your father.”
    Crystal needed to sit down. “You said he was dead.”
    Beatrice hummed in agreement, then ripped up the pictures intricately. “I lied.”

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