This small piece is a draft for a scene in the novel I'm writing. I have edited it, heavily, so there's no harm in showing it here, save for the fact that you'll probably find out what a lousy writer I am, but oh well. This is posted as a companion piece to the photos below, the main one being the one that is set in the middle.
As I opened the book a small square of paper fell out, landing face down between my feet. I kneeled and picked it up with my thumb and index finger, as it if was somehow treatening, and turned it around just to be faced with a photo that I knew to be old, at least nine years old.
It was a square photograph, the format I knew to belong to the Hasselblad Ruth had bought when we were still in High School. She had always had a gift for photography, and while I hinted at the possibility of her following that route for a living, she had been just too keen on becoming a doctor.
While I looked down at the image, the memories of that day began to flood my mind. I could remember the precise moment Ruth took that shot. We were at the Hamptons for a week or more, I can’t remember, but I did know it was right after my break up with Matthew and the miscarriage. During that Summer, and while I was enduring the loss of both my boyfriend and my unborn child, I had fallen into a deep, frightening depression that not even Ruth — especially not Ruth — could resolve. So she did the only thing she knew would make me snap out of it: with Jamie’s help, the two of them forced me to go to the Hamptons with them.
After spending the first couple of days in my room, in my — now usual — semi-catatonic state, I finally came downstairs one morning, only to find the two of them sitting at the kitchen table, reading their respective books. They weren’t surprised by my appearance, which I think felt nice at the time, because it was almost as if they knew I would come out of it eventually. As if they had that much faith in me.
I think my only words to them were “I need the field” and then I remember walking towards the door with the two of them in tow, following me silently as I sat on the passenger seat of Jamie’s car. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Ruth going back for a second and getting her camera and a film roll. I remember the silence of the ride, filled only with the noises of the wheels against the dirt road and the sounds of the old camera my friend was loading up with film.
The field was an abandoned patch of land in the inward part of the peninsula. As children, we often used it as a playground, picking up wood and leaves from the surrounding area and bulding our forts, making up our own treasure hunts; as teenagers, we used it to smoke pot and make out in our cars, the music pumping as loud as it could be and no one in ear shot. It was our free zone. It was surprising that in that time and age, it still hadn’t been used up for construction, but we took the availabilty of the site as a signal that we should still use it as our safe haven.
I remember Jamie’s look as he stopped the car and turned it off. He didn’t look straight at me, looking outside his window first, as if he was gathering up the courage to say something. The words died in his mouth, though, when I opened my own door and stepped out.
I walked for a couple of seconds, and then I ran. It was a very large piece of land, so I ran for a minute or two, feeling the two of them not too far behind me. I brought my hand up to my face as I started to feel the moisture, and realized I was actually crying. Finally.
What I remember the most about the time this picture was taken was the mixture of feelings, the sense of grief and relief at the same time. I hadn’t cried yet. Not when Matthew had left, not when I was at the hospital and the doctor had told me the fetus didn’t have a heartbeat. Something inside of me had hardened the night Matthew and I had fought and he had slammed the door on my face, and as I ran down that field, I could feel that same hardness melting away, dissolving into the tears that were streaming down my face. I know I stopped, I let my head fall back and I took a deep breath. That’s when I heard the click. The shot was taken.
I know I cried for a while. I screamed like I had never screamed before, I felt the pent up anger and the disbelief at what my life had become seep from me in the form of sobs, of yells, of breaths that just wouldn’t come out of me unless I forced them out. And when I was finally able to look back, I saw that Jamie was crying as well, but Ruth wasn’t. I saw something in her in that moment, something that I recognized as victory. Now that I had cried, she knew how to deal. She knew what she had to do to make me better. And as I saw my relief mirrored in her eyes, I let myself fall down and look up at the sky. It didn’t take two seconds until I felt Jamie laying down on my left side, and Ruth on my right.
Ruth lifted and twisted her torso so that she was looking at me, her body leaning on her elbow. She touched my nose with her index finger. “We’ll take care of you now, Sissa.” she promised “You’ll be alright.”