Author: T Howell
■ 24 Apr 17 - The Camera Man
“Come on, Jadie! Let's take a picture with Daddy!” It was her mother’s voice. The voice was soft and tender, like she was talking to a little kid. A sound of a train was hooting somewhere, and there were many people walking in and out of the platforms. Sure enough, a cute girl with a pink dress and shoulder-length hair came running into the woman’s welcoming arms.
“Say cheese!” It was a man’s voice this time. Her father’s. A man with short greased hair was laughing joyfully and aiming the camera at his wife and daughter, who was smiling in a cute goofy way. A train hooted again somewhere, and steam filled the scene as another bright flash hit Jade’s eyes, and she realised she was standing in her bedroom the entire time of her flashback, shaking slightly.
“I… I want to calm down…” Jade stammered as she slightly knocked her father out of the way with her shoulder and finally out the house. She walked aimlessly, and stopped by the old teddy bear shop, staring at one of her favourite fluffy old bears with its wide eyes twinkling. She recalled how her mother’s eyes also sparkled whenever she called out her name. Hot tears streamed down her face uncontrollably as she ran down the street, stumbling on her feet occasionally, forcing every bit of sadness out of her. She let a sob escape her throat, when she ran past the familiar place she got her red bike. The place her mother had bought her the red bike.
Then she stopped running. She’d already arrived at the end of the street. The brick wall towered over her. She looked up slowly, surprised and somewhat shocked on how she’d run so quickly, yet she wasn't panting her lungs out. Looking to her right, she noticed the familiar art workshop she used to have lessons at, where she would draw pictures with her mother and laugh with the teachers who taught there. She walked over, looked through the window and gasped in surprise. It was the piece of drawing she drew with her mother and father when she was only six, hanging with a frame just above the receptionist’s desk. The colourful painting has a family of three, plus a giant teddy bear behind them, with words “Family Forever” plastered at the very front of the piece of art. Family forever… Jade staggered backwards a bit before turning around and running home. Family forever… The words kept ringing in her mind as she was running all the way back from where she came. She crashed through the front doors, panting slightly, and searched the house.
“Dad?” she cried loudly. No one answered. “Dad?” Jade yelled louder and more demanding this time. Still no one. Then she saw it. A letter on her father’s side table. She slowly sat on her father’s bed and opened the letter with trembling hands.
A drop of water landed on the letter. Then two, then three. It was a while before Jade realised they were her own tears. She folded the letter and hugged her knees, silently sobbing and not knowing what to do.
That's when Jade heard the front door open. She flung herself downstairs and hugged the person that came in. It was her father.
“Dad, where have you been? I've been worried sick, and I'm so sorry!” Jade cried her heart out, but her father didn't hug her back. She pulled away a little as she looked at his face. Her father was staring at her, and he looked really confused. The same confused face he always had whenever he returned after leaving home for a few minutes.
“Dad?” Jade trembled. Her father blinked at her. For a moment, none of them moved. Then slowly, but gently, he pushed her away, so they were standing in a comfortable position apart. Jade noticed, just for a second, his eyes watered and filled with sadness, but they instantly turned glassy, with tension, and with eyebrows slightly nudged together. His fingers tensed and closed up into lose fists, and he said something Jade would never ever forget.
“Who are you?” Dad asked.