Have you ever wondered about those people in the back of your photographs? You know the ones I’m talking about? You are on vacation in Paris, or at a water park, or at dinner in that fancy little restaurant downtown? And you sneak a picture of your friend, or your cousin, or whoever you are sitting there with, or you ask the waitress “Can you please take our photo?” and snap!
A moment frozen in time. Yours to keep forever. Hold it, do not let it go. It is your moment. And you take the picture home, and don’t look at that moment again for six years. And when you look at it, there’s you and Barbara, but then you also see other people having dinner in the background. Or taking their own pictures of the Eiffel tower. Or picking a wedgie. And you kept their moment in time forever, too.
Do you ever wonder about those people? What their moment in time was about? What was happening in their lives? Or are they less of a person than you, the one in front. You are the only three dimensional person in your photograph, and everyone else is just a cardboard cut out. That is until the day you realize they aren’t. At least, that is how it went for me.
It was last spring, right after all those thunderstorms. You remember? And I picked up that picture of me and Aunt Carol from Joseph’s graduation party at the pizza place in Willington. That picture was about five years old, and I was looking at Aunt Carol, and I was missing her. I touched her face on the picture, and saw there was something on the photograph, like some pizza sauce or something. Which was weird, because I don’t think I ate pizza while looking at the pictures. But I started scraping it off and my nail sliced right through some guy in the background’s head.
For a minute, I was like crap! Because that was the last picture taken of me and Aunt Carol, but then I realized it was just the other guy’s head, not one of ours, and I felt better about it. And I just stuck my finger the rest of the way through his head, and the freakiest thing happened.
Yes, the freakiest.
No, not like when the spider fell out of my pot holder. I’m glad you remember that story though.
This was even freakier.
All of a sudden I was in the pizza place. And I was standing behind Aunt Carol, and I just was so overwhelmed with confusion I ran towards her. I just wanted to grab her and hug her, but something felt weird. Then I realized that was me next to Aunt Carol! And I turned and I looked at me. I mean like, the other me, the weirder me, the 17-year-old me turned and looked at the me from right then.
No, I’m not. I’ll show you. Just let me tell you first.
Because – I need Barbara to come back over here with my camera that’s why.
So the two mes were looking at each other, except the old me, I mean, the younger me, she waved at someone else. And she didn’t even notice there was another me a few feet away. I was wondering, am I invisible, what is happening? But I looked down, and it wasn’t even me on the outside, just the inside, just my brain. The outside was the guy from the photo I just ripped.
Wait, just stay. Wait until she brings my camera.
Thank you! So like I was bout to say, soon as I looked at the guy’s body, I snapped out of it, and was back in the living room, and I had the picture in my hand. Holy crap! What is that about right? So I’m sitting there trying to figure out, am I going crazy? And I grab another picture, this one is right underneath the last, and instead of trying to get into someone in the background’s head, I scratch my own face in the picture, stick my finger through it, nothing happens.
So I scratch some guy in the background, this guy picking a wedgie, and boom! Blam! I am in his head! I quick, try to get my attention, you know, the other me? The picture me? Yeah, you’re catching on, anyway, I get my attention, but I’m just like, “What the hell is this guy doing?” and you know what the crazy thing is? Soon as I wave me down, I have this memory of this guy trying to get my attention at the park that day. Like, I can’t see his face, but I remember right after the picture, he was trying to get me to come over to him, and I turned my back on him.
And he was running, and he fell off the edge of the sidewalk and fall in front of a car, and I think he died. Well, I saw all this flash before me, so I stopped running… to me… and I-he didn’t fall, and he didn’t die. And I looked down to make sure he was okay, and then, bam! I was back in my own body again. Here’s Barbara, now I can show you! Barbara!
You try, your voice is louder.
Hey lady! Can you take our picture?
No, not with the painting behind us, but turn around so we can see the crowd! Yeah, for the memories man.
I didn’t wink, I just… Smile!
Okay, so look, I don’t know who but…
Hey, yeah, you look good too, hehe… Me?
Yep! Hey, hi me!
No we did not plan this.
Well, what do you mean?
No she didn’t memorize it just a few – look, tell us something, something only future you could know, like…
Yes! That is perfect, and look, we’ll watch the door, and if…
Okay, well, oh! Lets do another picture, then see that woman over there?
Okay, then you pick. You pick anyone in the room then you know I’m telling the truth.
Okay, and what do you want them to do? Take a painting off the wall? Throw a glass of wine in the server’s face? What?
You know.. They could get arrested, or thrown out for…
Okay… all the way down?
Alright. Feels like a violation doesn’t it?
Oh, that’s because you don’t believe me? Alright, well, come on, Barbara!
I need you to take another photo of us over here, just right here.
Alright, lets turn and… oh wow, what a birthmark.
Okay, that is kind of funny, except I hope… Okay, yeah! No one noticed. We didn’t get him in trouble.
So do you… are you okay? You’re kind of pale.
In through your nose, out through your mouth. In through your nose, out through your mouth. There you go.
But I did tell you.