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Funny Fiction Contemporary

I was eating an orange. No, I wasn’t eating it yet, I was peeling the orange, in the kitchen of the rented Air B & B, just before lunch, when someone in the family shouted “Family Photo time”. My hands were sticky with orange juice and I didn’t want to abandon the orange. “Can it wait,” I yelled through the screen door.

“No, it can’t. Derek and John are going fishing, and Susan had to drive into town to get more groceries,” my wife Cathy yelled back.  

“Later, I’m busy,” I said.

“Jake, you come out here. The whole family is here, and I can’t remember when that has happened in years.”

“We’ll all be together again on Sunday,” I say, which is true because since this family vacation has been such a success, there is a plan for us all to get together to go to the rodeo when we’re back in town.  I consider eating my orange quickly, and immediately resent the missed opportunity to savor it.  

There are very few photos that I am in. Even my wedding photos, are mostly of Cathy, my face is always in shadow and I’m hard to identify. She had been happy when I had offered to arrange the wedding photograhper, but less so when the photos came back. When I got to the alter, before Cathy started her walk down the aisle in the arm of her dad, I announced guest cameras would not be allowed, and that free copies of the official wedding photos would be available.

“Really,” Cathy had mouthed through her veil, before our vows.

I had moved my shoulders just a tinsy bit, nervous my bride wouldn’t go through with her vows to such a camera shy freak. But she did, and the rest is history.

“Jake, I know you don’t like having your photo taken, but this is special. We’re never all together like we are now.” Cathy had come into the kitchen and seen the orange segments in front of me that I have separated and cleaned, with a little pile of orange peels and several strands and bits of pulp. “Mmm,” she said and grabbed two segments and dropped them into her mouth one after another, and then she grabbed another two.

“Hey, leave some for me,” I picked up the last three segments, and chased away unwelcome thoughts of a group photo by inhaling the citrus scent and focusing on the taste and feel of orange in my mouth, some advice I’d read somewhere on how to cope with anxiety.

“I’ll be out in a moment. I’ll take the photo,” I said, between chews.

Cathy shook her head and said, “Not now, not today. Everyone’s lined up and waiting for you. Jill wants to go ride the next door neighbor’s horse.”

“Huh, what?  Did our eleven year old niece barge in on that complete stranger and beg to ride her horse?”

Cathy held out her hand to me. “You know that’s not true. Now come outside, before we all get cramps.”

I imagined them all frozen in their best photo pose, as if they were on a TV screen and the pause button had been hit. The thought of the family being on pause reminded me of that disaster family photo when I was five, which was perhaps the genesis of my photo phobia.

Mom had left something on the stove to go out and join in the family photo, and the house had burned down. Of course it didn’t help that Dad had been so slow to set up the camera on a tripod to take a photo of us.

The next disaster photo, was during a Christmas, maybe it was the same year or the next. I wanted to pose with a new blanket that was very soft and a light green colour that my mom had received for Christmas. My parents were surprised I was so taken with a blanket, but not so much that our Yorkie dog also liked the blanket. My mom tried to get me to let go of the blanket so she could take a photograph, but I wasn’t about to lose to Mr. York.  I won the blanket, but the Christms tree got knocked over, and no one would put it up again. It was all Mr. York’s fault but I was in the doghouse.

 I don’t know if it was that or something else but my parents lost interest in taking family photos, but they grumbled about Grandma or some other relative wanting photos of us. When there was a special at Len’s Photograhpy Studio, they dragged me along, and made me promise to behave and look at the camera, but every time I managed to ’ruin the photo’. My dad had thought we should get discounts, but my mom had persuaded him against pursuing any.

When I was a teen, about fifteen, my parent’s friends kept telling me I was becoming a good looking young man. This convinced me to have one of my friends take my photo. We were outside, and I thought what could go wrong?

Clearly the adults were lying through their teeth. In the photo, my face was covered in pimples and looked goofy. Next thing I knew my friends had photoshopped it and added a freaky clown costume on me and sent out copies to everyone in my class, inviting everyone to my place for a Halloween party.

When I met Cathy she didn’t realize how much of a camera phobe I’d become, she thought I was a bit camera shy and soon enough I’d lose my false modesty. She’d been dismayed after our wedding, but I’d convinced her that I understood her disappointmet, but in many other ways I compensated. For example I was exceedlingly fire cautious.  She’d relented, but said the two of us had more than one problem area and that marriage was all about compromise and accepting each other as we were. Very wise words.  

That didn’t prevent her from needling and poking and doing everything she could to prompt me to be in photos with her. Our compromise was that when absolutely necessary, I wore a long brim cap that put my face in shadow.

So that is what I’d do now. I grabbed one of my trusty caps, and went outside. 

“Ah, here’s our camera-phobe,” said Derek, one of Cathy’s brothers.

“Look what we got here,” John, her other brother held out his smart phone for everyone to see.

“You’re just getting one shot of me. Let’s get it over with,” I said, keeping my head down.  

“Just a moment. Have a look,” John pressed his phone’s screen, and held it up for everyone to see and hear the video

There I was sitting in the kitchen, peeling an orange and muttering everything I thought I’d been thinking in private. “Give me that,” I grabbed at the phone.

“Na, na. If you take a proper family photo, then I’ll erase it.”

They all snickered at me, even the kids and Cathy.

May 06, 2022 16:33

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2 comments

Hope Linter
19:08 May 08, 2022

Thank you for continuing to read my work Glad you enjoyed it

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Dhwani Jain
11:47 May 07, 2022

That twist was twisty, and witty!!!!!!!! Fun, humourous read!

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