Title: Perspective Photos
Rating: K (since it contains nothing inappropriate).
Extra Info: My senior-year of high-school, I took Advanced Composition (Creative Writing). We had an assignment where we had to use personification. I wrote a story about a photo album, and how it may feel as its owner gets older. I lost my paper copy and electronic copy of the story shortly after graduating from high-school, so this is my attempt at a rewrite. I don't remember any specifics about the assignment. I couldn't remember the title that I gave my story in high-school, and I was having a hard time coming up with one. The new title comes from a line in Shakespeare's 24th sonnet translated into modern English ("…to draw that picture with perspective, realistically representing death, is the highest skill a painter could have"). Since my story is told from the photo album's point of view, I thought it fit.
Perspective Photos (Personification Story)
I am an apple-red photo album sitting on a white shelf at Target. I have no idea how long I've been here, or where my photo album siblings ended up. But one of these days will be the lucky day when I am purchased. My days and nights of sitting on this shelf are very repetitive, but daydreaming about my future owner helps pass the time.
One day, a five-year-old girl comes into Target with her mother. The winter holidays just ended; everything is on sale. The girl is wearing a white dress with red strawberries. Her dirty-blonde hair is in a long braid. I hope I'm not too dusty-looking. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and this girl looks very friendly. Maybe today is the day.
"Mom!" the girl yells.
"Honey, there's no need to yell." A brunette woman has appeared beside the girl. Her eyes are green like her daughter's. "What is it?"
"Can I get this?" She picks me up and smiles hopefully at her mom.
The mom takes me from her daughter and leafs through my pages. "It's a binder so we can add more pages if necessary." She glances at the sticker announcing my price. Thanks to the after holiday sale, I cost twelve dollars instead fifteen (tax not included). "Sure."
"Thanks!" The girl clutches me tightly.
I stay in her arms until we reach the checkout counter. And then I am sitting in a cloth bag in the backseat of a blue Honda, right next to my new owner as we head for my new house. No, my new home, I correct myself. This is a permanent situation. My owner's home is my home.
My owner takes me up to her room. The walls are painted a shade of purple called Just A Fairytale, the carpet is brown, and the teak bookshelf looks comfortable. The dolls and stuffed animals around me look welcoming. My owner opens me up and uncaps a marker. She writes her name on the line under the phrase "This photo album belongs to." I glance at her name—Charlotte Puckett. Nice name, I think. Then my owner—no, Charlotte—then Charlotte turns the page and slides a photo into my first sleeve. It's a recent photo—Charlotte smiling in front of her family's Christmas tree.
Three years later, I am still Charlotte's photo album. My pages are filled with photos of her at gymnastics competitions—sometimes winning, sometimes reluctantly getting a smaller trophy that lets me know someone else got the grand prize. I hold photos of her with family and friends; snapshots captured to signify life's milestone moments. I hold photos of her with a cast on her arm from a gymnastics accident and pictures of her with chicken pox. I'm the memory keeper, whether the memories are good or bad.
A few weeks ago, Charlotte's mom had to order a package of extra pages because I was getting full. The best times are when Charlotte glances through me, remembering her younger days. I wonder what'll happen when no more pages will fit in me. Will Charlotte replace me? Will I be thrown out, or will I get to share my spot on the bookshelf? If I am kept, what if the new photo album and I don't get along? But these days seem a long way off, so I try not to think about it very often.
Charlotte is growing up. She's twelve years old now, and I've missed a lot of those milestone moments. She still takes pictures, but they're digital. Most of the picture are taken on a camera phone; they're posted on a social media website called Facebook, and she doesn't get print copies made to put into me. The last picture I hold is of Charlotte on her tenth birthday. She rarely leafs through me anymore. When she needs a shot of nostalgia, she looks online. I'm getting dusty. I was worried enough about being replaced by a rival photo album, but I never considered being replaced by technology.
Charlotte has just graduated high-school and I hold a picture of her dressed in her graduation costume (a burgundy gown and mortarboard), but my owner's mom was the one who slipped the picture in me. Before this, my latest picture was of Charlotte's first day of school her freshman-year. My owner looks the same externally—blonde hair, green eyes, nice smile—but she's internally different. I doubt she even noticed that I hold a new photo. I'm very dusty, and I think my owner was eleven the last time she flipped through me. Some of my pages are sticking together. I could blame the computer and phone for pushing me out of favour with my owner, but I know it's her fault.
I miss the old days. The days when she raced up the stairs with an envelope of pictures to put in me; the days when a brown box was delivered to my home with extra pages. I couldn't tell you the last time Charlotte had to order more pages for me. The pictures are my food and I used to eat constantly, but now I'm empty and starving. I feel like an anorexic photo album these days.
Charlotte is twenty-three now and she's going to begin a new phase in her life. She just graduated with a degree in counselling from Michigan State University, and I know that she hopes to become a family therapist. Right now, she is packing up her dorm room for the last time. She'll be living at her parents' house in Wisconsin until she can get her own apartment and a job.
Charlotte walks back into her dorm room for the last time to make sure she didn't leave anything behind. She opens the desk under her loft bed, and sees my red cover and takes me out of the drawer. I think the last time my owner held me, it was when she placed me in this drawer. She opens the front cover and sees her name printed inside in loopy handwriting, child handwriting. She sits on the floor beneath her bed and slowly turns the pages, smiling at pictures of herself, her family, and her friends.
Nothing in life is ever certain. Sometimes people are inconsistent. They say one thing when they mean the opposite. Things are always changing. Friendships and relationships end, hair grows and gets cut, and the weather flip-flops between good and bad. There is no way to avoid change, and we are foolish to ever look back.
AN: Thanks for reading. Please review. The cover image for this story is the shade of purple that Charlotte's bedroom walls were.