Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday Writings #10 - Revealing Photographs

Today's "Wednesday Writing" is a continuation of a story started back with Morning Machinations, and then continued in Communication Between FriendsDaydreaming Decisions, Off to the ParkDriven and finally in Coming Home.

I look forward to any thoughts, suggestions, reactions or critiques.


Revealing Photographs

It was nearly 45 minutes before Julie knocked on the door but Gabby hadn't even noticed the passage of time. She was too engrossed in scanning through photo after photo of her own wedding. Julie started apologizing for taking so long to arrive and then demanding an explanation from Gabby about everything that was going on. Without speaking a word, Gabby answered by motioning Julie to the sofa and sliding the scrapbook along the coffee table for her friend to see.

Julie glanced sideways at the book and started to protest but as she watched the pages turn, she fell silent. Even though Gabby had been staring at the images for nearly an hour, she was still confused and shocked every time she turned a page.

The book was filled with nearly a hundred pages of pictures, starting with a few silly pictures of she and Evan dating and getting engaged, then documenting their amazing wedding day and concluding with pictures from a honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean.

Some of the pages included dates and informed Gabby that she and Evan had married in June. But in June of next summer. A gorgeous wedding invitation confirmed the date and provided additional details about the ceremony and the various meals, receptions and other celebrations surrounding the event.

Gabby stared incredulously at her own blissful smile in the pictures. In one picture, Julie stood next to Gabby, their arms around each others' shoulders and their heads leaning together. Below that was a picture of Julie catching the wedding bouquet.Another image was an action shot of Gabby twirling around in her dress to show off its shimmering beauty.

She had to admit that it was a gorgeous dress. Everything in the pictures was beautiful and matched so many of the dreams Gabby had for her wedding day. From the blue and yellow colors to the fabulous stoneware and greenery decorating the reception area. Even the honeymoon matched up with her dreams. She'd always hoped to go to Europe on her honeymoon and the pictures from the trip felt like an absolutely dream.

Neither girl knew what to say. They flipped slowly through the pages for nearly ten minutes before Julie broke the silence.

"What is this?"

Gabby didn't reply.

"Gabby, what is this all about? This is a crazy joke, right? Where did this come from?"

Gabby turned another page and looked at the image of her standing next to her own mother. Her mother's face radiated with maternal joy. Her eyes were bright and her smile wide. She looked healthy and vibrant as though the wedding of her daughter had imbued her with a second life.

A tear started at the corner of Gabby's eye and a lump grew in her throat. She remembered vividly sitting at her mother's hospital bed after her mother's stroke just two months ago. Gabby remembered her mother's advice to find a nice boy to marry. She remembered her mom asking Gabby to tell her future grandchildren about the grandmother they'd never know. Julie noticed the look of anguish on Gabby's face and pulled her into a hug, pushing the book aside.

"Gabby, this is some kind of sick joke. It has to end. We need to end this."

"How? I don't understand Jules. I'm so confused. Evan gave me this book today. How did he make something like this? Why would anyone make something like this as a joke? This isn't a joke Julie. This is something else. Something else." Gabby's voice broke as she spoke. She began to sob softly, leaning her head into her friend's shoulder and letting the tears flow.

"I don't' know what this is Gabby. But we'll find out. Together, we'll find out and we'll make it stop."

The two girls sat for a few more minutes on the couch and then Julie walked Gabby into her bedroom and settled her down in her bed. Gabby was asleep almost instantly. Julie returned to the living room and flipped through the album some more. Turning back to the beginning, she noted that the invitation and some of the initial pages provided a last name for the mystery man. Evan Fitzgerald. She pulled out her phone and quickly ran a search on him. Nothing noteworthy came up that she could identify with any certainty as the man tormenting her friend.

This had to be some type of joke. Some master of photo manipulation had created this elaborate hoax. It didn't make any sense, but she couldn't think of any other explanation. She vowed that first thing in the morning, she'd drag Gabby down to the police station with the photo album and the pile of notes from Evan and they'd put things right once and for all.

Julie prepared to settle down on the couch and try to get some rest when she saw the backpack sitting beside the coffee table.  Inside was another large folder similar to the wedding album the girls had been looking at.  Curious, she pulled the album from the bag and set it on the table.  Opening the cover, it relieved Julie not to be staring at more wedding pictures, but she wasn't quite sure what she was looking at.

There was no title page or any text at all on the first few pages she flipped through.  It seemed to be a portfolio of some type, filled with strange abstract drawings, illustrations and schematics.  What little writing there was appeared to be in some kind of code or scientific notation as it included symbols and markings Julie didn't recognize.

The first dozen pages showed spirals, blots and wisps of colors.  In a few, there seemed to be abstract humanized forms, blurry and hidden among the swirling lines on the page.  Then abruptly the style changed to pages with very straight, clean deliberate lines and very little color.  After a few of these, the straight lines took on the look of an architectural or mechanical sketch with lines and symbols alongside as if for notation.  Finally, towards the back of the book, all of the styles seemed to come together on individual pages.  The clean schematic objects generally sat in the center of the page with abstract human forms beside or superimposed on the flat lines with the abstract colors, smudges and swirls bordering the entire scene.

Without any understanding, Julie reached the final picture of the book.  The image on the final page seemed to be the ultimate culmination of all the previous pages.  It included the mash-up of all the previous styles as well as lengthy paragraphs of text written in the strange symbols or notation.  But most disturbing of all was a small 3x5 photograph tucked in at the corner of the page.  It showed a group of 8 individuals, dressed formally and standing beside a podium.  Six of the people were total strangers to Julie.  But the two on the right were immediately recognizable.  Holding hands and beaming broad smiles at the camera were Gabby and Evan.


Brian Miller said...

oh man, what a cliff'll have me wondering all week.

The Novelist said...

Very interesting story. The conflict and the setup are strong. You definitely have something here and I look forward to more!

Alexandra said...

I shouldn't read this right before bed! I always do this to myself.

My favorite part is the set up...I need to know what is next.

I also like the visual you create with the flipping pages of the album. I can see it happening.

WOnderful job of leaving me with the need to know more, thank you!

Okie said...

Thanks for reading. :) Glad to hear you're enjoying it.