This is the clock upon the wall
This is the story of us all
This is the first sound of a new-born child,
Before he starts to crawl
This is the war that’s never won
This is a soldier and his gun
This is the mother waiting by the phone,
Praying for her son
“I love this song!” I exclaimed, more to myself than anyone else. The Last Goodnight was my favourite band and Pictures of You was my favourite song by them.
Pictures of you, pictures of me
Hung upon your wall for the world to see
Pictures of you, pictures of me
Remind us all of what we used to be
I joined in at the chorus.
“Janie! Would you turn that racket down!”
I scoffed. Mum had not just referred to The Last Goodnight as ‘racket’. I did as I was told though, turning it down and humming the last verse quietly to myself.
I sat down on my bed and pulled out my sketch pad. I wanted to be a singer one day but I wanted to be the one to design the covers for my own cds so I was getting in some practice now.
There was a knock on my door and my nana stood there, smiling at me.
“Hey Nana. What’s up?”
“Just coming to see what you are doing. What are you drawing?”
“Oh, just messing around with potential album cover designs.” Nana was the only one, other than my best friend Emma-Lee, that I had told about wanting to be a singer. My parents thought I wanted to be a lawyer, follow in their footsteps. That wasn’t the case. Though every time I tried to tell them this they switched off, didn’t hear me.
“Can I look?”
“Sure,” I tilted my sketchpad so Nana could see better.
“Janie, these are really good!”
“Thanks, Nana,” I smiled at her. At least someone supported me.
“I think you should pursue being a singer,” Nana said to me after a moment of silence.
I gave her a sad smile. “Mum and Dad would love that.”
She gave me a look of sympathy and turned towards my door. She seemed to change her mind, turning back to face me, “You know, Janie, you shouldn’t be so hard on them. It’s not their fault that they don’t want you to be a singer.”
Nana gave me another smile before walking out of my room and down the hallway. What did she mean by it wasn’t their fault?
I looked out my window and noticed the dark clouds that were forming. It looked as if there was a storm coming and my kitten, Buzzard, was outside. I would have to go and find him, he had never experienced a storm before and I knew he would be terrified if he did.
I was pulling on my coat when I had the best idea, I would take my camera outside with me and get some photos of Buzzard in the yard. Hopefully before the storm hit. That was my second favourite thing to do, take photos. If I didn’t make it as a singer my back up plan was to pursue a career in photography.
My friend Rachael always told me that I had too many ‘dream’ jobs and that I needed to start thinking of a normal job too. I always told her that I didn’t want just any job, I wanted something fun, something that interested me. Something that didn’t leave me bitter and depressed at the end of the work day. She couldn’t understand this, she always said that people weren’t meant to enjoy their jobs, it was work after all. I didn’t agree.
I grabbed my favourite black camera out of its spot in my book shelf. I had about seven or eight cameras, each were unique in their own way of course. I loved the black one the best because it was one of those polaroid cameras with all different sorts of functions and techniques you could add to the photos. You know when a guy- sometimes a girl- gets the car, motorbike or boat he’s been wanting for ages and when he eventually does, he treats it like his new born baby? That’s how I felt about cameras.
I pulled on my favourite pair of canvas shoes and headed outside. I found Buzzard down by the oak tree in the front yard and picked him up. He meowed and rubbed his head against my arm before squirming around, trying to get back on the ground.
“Okay, you can get down. But, you have to stay around here. I’m going to get some photos of you and then we’re going back inside, okay?”
Buzzard looked at me and meowed. I was sure he was saying okay. I often heard people say that animals couldn’t understand people but I thought otherwise. Of course they could.
I looked through my camera lens at Buzzard and positioned it a few times before I finally got the perfect angle. After the first photo of Buzzard sitting by the tree looking up into it, it was as if he took on a model persona. He was strutting up and down the yard as if he was participating in a professional photo-shoot. Not that it bothered me, I got some really great shots of Buzzard, that was when I wasn’t shaking with laughter at his antics and could keep the camera still.
After about five more snaps of Buzzard there was a loud roar and Buzzard fled in between my legs in fright. I scooped him up into my arms and headed back inside. Poor little thing was shaking, he was so scared.
I shut the door behind us and put Buzzard on the floor, he took off running down the hallway but I knew it wasn’t because he was scared. His tail was bobbing along happily after him now that he was safely inside. I guessed that he was off to the kitchen in the hope that he would find Mum with the can opener and his food.
I was about to lock the door and pull the blind down when I thought of something, I had never shot photos of a storm before. There was a reason for that, I did not want to get my favourite camera wet.
I shot down the hallway to my room and grabbed my least favourite camera. It was one of those old disposable ones that you had to take the film into a photo shop to get developed, hence why I didn’t like using it. It would get the job done though and if it was to get damaged, it wouldn’t upset me as much as one of my other cameras. Disposable cameras were cheap and I could always buy another one.
I went running back down the hallway and out the door as another crack of thunder broke in the sky. I grinned, this was going to be amazing! I knew I didn’t have long though, after thunder usually came lightening. I could handle being out in the rain and thunder for the sake of photography, but I did not want to get caught in a lightening storm. If I got struck, I could die.
I aimed the camera up at the sky which was, dark and grey, angry looking. I took a photo and smiled. I couldn’t wait to see these developed.
I noticed a haze of fog settling over the yard. Even better. Fog always made things seem mysterious, I had never really shot a photo like that before and it was something I had always wanted to do.
I stepped towards the fog, angling the camera so I could get the perfect shot of it. I snapped about a dozen photos from different angles, hoping that at least a few of them were good. I was very hard on myself when it came to photography. Sure, I wasn’t bad at it, but there was always room for improvement.
Another crack of thunder broke in the sky followed by a gust of wind. Something landed by my foot and I peered down to see what it was. It was an old black and white photo. I picked it up and looked at it, a young women with blonde hair and a wide smile was looking back at me. I frowned. Who was she? I had never seen her before. Maybe this was no one that I knew but if so, how had her photo landed in my yard?
I looked around to see if I could figure out where it had come from. I peered through the fog that was getting thicker and gasped. I could just see a black figure walking off into the distance.
“Hey?” I called out, but the person kept walking.
“Hey!” I yelled out, louder. The person stopped and whipped around to face me, before breaking out into a sprint, away from me.
I hadn’t gotten a good look at the person’s face but I could tell that it was a man.
A bolt of lightening shot through the sky and I tucked the photo into my coat pocket, heading quickly back inside.
“Janie? Is that you?” Mum called to me down the hallway, suddenly appearing in front of me.
“Dinner is ready,” She said and then took a good look at me. “Why were you out in the rain?”
“I was getting photos of the storm.”
“Because I never have before and I like photographing different things.”
“In the rain?”
“Yes, Mum, in the rain. It’s really the only way to get a photo of a storm.”
Mum rolled her eyes and tutted at my sarcastic comeback. “Go and get changed before you catch your death and then come back for dinner.”
I nodded, not wasting any time. I was freezing.
Once I was changed, I pulled the photo out of my wet clothes and studied it. Who was she? Now that I got a good look, she did look familiar. How had the photo gotten into our yard though? Was it something to do with that guy I had seen?
I walked slowly to the kitchen, studying the photo all the way.
“What you got there?” Dad asked me as I entered the kitchen.
“Ooh!” Dad exclaimed, “Are they the photos of the storm you just took?” Mum gave Dad a disapproving look and I smiled. I suppose she had thought that Dad would tell me off for being out in the storm.
“No. I took those on a disposable camera so I will have to wait for them to be developed. I found this photo in the yard.”
“You found it in the yard?” Dad gave me a strange look. “Can I see?”
I sat down at the table beside him and handed him the photo. “Do you know who that is, Dad?”
Dad concentrated on the photo and furrowed his brow in confusion. Not long after, recognition filled his eyes. “Mum? Is this you when you were younger?”
Of course! That’s why the lady looked familiar. She reminded me of a younger version of Nana.
Nana came over and stood behind Dad’s chair, leaning down to get a better look.
She gasped and Dad and I whipped our heads around to look at her. “Janie? Where did you get this?”
“I found it in the yard.”
“By the oak tree. I was about to head inside when a gust of wind blew and the photo landed at my feet.”
By this time, Mum had come over and joined us, wanting to know what all the fuss was about.
Mum took a look at the photo. “Is that you, Elizabeth?” Mum asked.
Nana shook her head. “This is my mother. She died in a fire when I was a young girl.”
I instantly felt bad. It was obvious it made Nana sad, discussing her mother. There was something niggling at the back of my mind though.
“Nana? Why was your photo out in the yard?”
Nana shook her head, furiously. “That’s why I wanted to know where you found it. This isn’t my photo.”
“What?” Mum, Dad and I asked at the same time.
“My mother was at home the day she died. I had gone to work with Dad that day and we got the call that the house had burned to the ground. There was nothing left. Nothing. My mother had this photo of herself framed and hanging on the wall but the firemen had found nothing when they put the fire out. We assumed everything, including this photo, had burned with the house.”
“Then how did Janie find this photo?” Dad asked confused.
“Janie?” Nana asked urgently, “Did you see anybody around when you found this photo?”
I was about to shake my head when I remembered the man I had seen.
“Yes! There was a haze of fog over the yard and when I found the photo, I looked around to see where it could have blown in from and I looked through the fog. There was a man, walking away in the distance and I called out to him because I wanted to know who he was.”
“How do you know it was a man?” Mum asked.
“When I called out to him he turned and looked at me, before sprinting away down the road.”
“How old was he? Did you see his face?” Nana asked me.
“I couldn’t see his face clearly, it was too foggy, but his build made him look in his forties.”
“My dad never thought it was an accident,” Nana said quietly. “He always thought that someone had set the house on fire intentionally but the police never listened and he couldn’t find any evidence himself.”
Nana looked each of us in the eye, one by one. “Whoever that man you saw is, knows something about what happened to my mother that day.”