NaNoWriMo 11/05/2007 - Camera Lucida

He peered into the camera and saw the city before him, the skyline, the rolling hills, the bustling freeway. High cirrus clouds streaked across a powder blue sky. A white streak, the contrails of a commercial airliner, divided the sky in two. He did not know what to think - he had come this far and overcome so many obstacles…he was expecting something more…anything more than a simple camera that he could have bought on Amazon.

Beneath his left thumb was a simple rocker switch. He rocked it to the left until it clicked softly. The image in the camera stuttered slightly. He rocked it again. Another stutter. He didn’t know what to make of it. He rocked it again and held it in place. Suddenly, the contrails of the commercial airliner shrunk as the plane seemed to fly backwards. Surprised, he let go of the rocker and the plane resumed its course. He moved the camera away from his eye and looked skyward. Yup, the plain was there and the contrail was there too.

He put the camera up to his eye again and rocked the switch left. He held it there, and once again the contrail shrunk and the plane seemed to fly backwards. Holding his breathe, he held the rocker switch and the plane continued to fly backwards. He gasped but continued and began to notice other things - the cars on the freeway appeared to move backwards, as did the ship in the harbor. He could not believe his eyes. Panicked, he let go of the rocker switch and the image in the camera returned to normal - cars moving orderly on the freeway, airplane steady in the sky, another normal day in the bay.

He looked around to make sure that he wasn’t drawing attention to himself. He wasn’t - the other park visitors were caught in their own world…a elderly man walking his dog, a young couple pushing a baby stroller, teens on bikes in the skate park. He held the camera up to his eye and pointed it at the skate park. A teen was hurtling down the half-pipe, preparing to execute a trip on the opposite lip. Clearing the lip, he executed a neat 360 in mid-air before nailing the landing. He followed this whole sequence with the camera and then thumbed the rocker switch left. Magically, the sequence played in reverse in the viewfinder, the teen riding reverse up the half pipe, clearing the lip, doing a reverse 360. While the image of the teen was in mid air, his shutter instinct took over and he snapped the image. He let go of the rocker and the image returned to normal.

He took the camera away from his eye and hit the review button. There, on the LCD display, was an image of a teen on a BMX, caught in mid air as he executed a 360. He had just taken a photo of…of the past. He shook his head in disbelief.

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