The camera flashed as she clicked the button. It was another hopeless attempt at snatching that perfect moment for the masses. What else was she supposed to do? Photography ran in her blood, after all. Her father served as a top photographer for several places across the country—so much so that the man rarely visited home for more than a week at a time. As she got older, she saw less and less of him while her mother worked for a small model agency. She had a parent meant for the limelight and one who offered the opportunity. They were perfect for each other, but it did not come without sacrifice.
Shana shifted and dug her right heel into the dirt behind her. The stupid tree in front of her was becoming the bane of her existence as the natural light began to curve its way through the branches and new greenery that sprouted magnificently. What was more mystical than a tree?
She sighed, growled, and pulled her face away from the camera. There wasn’t a point anymore. She would never be as good as her father or as captivating as her mother. She tried so hard for nothing more than average hoping one day that she would be so…much…more.
“This is ridiculous!” she hissed. “I don’t know why I’m bothering with this. I won’t get any attention from it anyway.”
With another sigh, Shana threw herself to the ground, and dropped the camera beside her. So much pressure, but for what? It wasn’t like she was forced into photography. In fact, her parents had always encouraged her to be whatever she wanted. Of all the things she could’ve chosen, it just had to be a photographer that specialized in nature. While she sat staring at the inanimate object she’d deemed her nemesis, it was clear that the sun setting might have been the best angle for it.
“Well,” she said, “three hours wasted, and I have not a damn picture to show for it. The deities have always been right. Nature really is a bitch.” Then, she gave a light laugh.
“Why don’t you try a shot from the left side,” bellowed a deep voice.
Shana blinked and looked around herself to find the voice’s origin, but not a soul stood near her.
“Up here,” it said with slight annoyance.
Shana jerked her head upward and narrowed her eyes as she tried to find the voice a second time, but there was nothing, and after hours of staring at the tree’s branches, she knew no one was sitting in it.
Maybe I’m hearing things, she thought as her face scrunched up.
“Try it from the left,” it instructed again.
“Okay,” she huffed, “maybe I’m not hearing things.”
“You are,” it responded simply.
Shana dismissed the voice and stood to her feet. She’d been in the relentless sunlight for hours, so she guessed that the sun’s warmth was finally getting to her. If it wasn’t, her only explanation was that the tree was speaking to her. There was no way. Trees didn’t talk. That was only possible in stories.
“Well,” the voice came again, “will you take my advice, or will you continue to stand there with that blank look on your face?”
“Look,” she responded to the open air, “I don’t know where or who you are, but I’m tired of you screwing with me. I’ve had a very long day, I’m so hot that my eyes are sweating, and I just want to be done with this.”
“Then,” it ordered bitterly, “try your picture from the left. It isn’t that hard. Just a few steps, and your insufferable day will end.”
Shana growled in frustration and allowed an irritated puff of air leave her as she reached to retrieve her camera. It was ridiculous to her that she was willing to listen something she couldn’t see. However, she was tired of sitting around with no luck of getting that perfect shot. The day needed to end, and she needed to get the picture over with.
As the open air advised, Shana approached the tree and turned herself until she faced the left side. She scanned the trunk and branches, trying to find what made that side so special. The carvings from age looked the same, the textures of the tree were nothing much, and the only difference she caught was the branches that hung lower than the rest. In a way, the lower branches shaded the sun away from the tree’s detail, which allowed her to shoot the tree without the sun blinding her vision.
“From the left,” she muttered.
“Perfect!” the voice cheered. “You’ll be finished in no time, I assure you. All it will take is just three more steps. Can you do that?”
Shana sighed. “Fine. Three more steps.”
She took three more strategic steps, but she wasn’t sure what it accomplished. All she knew was that the sun was starting to disappear, and she was beginning to lose the natural light she so badly wanted. When taking pictures of natural aspects of life, she always felt it was appropriate to use the light nature provided. It wasn’t the easiest philosophy to hold, but she felt it was necessary/ Blind shots left her photos less predictable. If she was barely able to see what she was shooting, there was more fun in the idea of her projects. The way she chose to snap her photos had never failed her, either. Some of the blind shots even awarded her recognition worth continuing her path.
“Alright,” she said lowly, “just three steps. Now, let’s get this show—”
“Just a moment,” the voice cut in.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this. What now?” she hissed.
“No need to be testy. I’m only trying to help you get this over with.”
“But who is ‘you,’ exactly? I can’t even see you. How do I know I haven’t completely lost it?” Shana pulled the camera away from her face and went back to looking for the source of the voice.
Still, there was nothing that would tip her off. Where she stood held tall grass, but the air wasn’t moving enough for her to mistake body movement for a breeze. The idea of finishing her project was becoming less and less as she just wanted to find the voice before she went nuts. She was starting to believe that the voice was in her head. With nothing and no one around to prove otherwise, that was all it could be.
“You haven’t lost anything, dear,” it laughed. “If I may be bold, I’d say you’ve done quite the opposite.”
“What do you mean by that?”
I can’t believe I’m actually buying into whatever this is, the thought raced through before the voice spoke again.
“You have found something. You’re just not willing to believe it.”
Shana cocked an eyebrow and lowered her camera to her midsection. Again, she stared blankly. The only change she’d witnessed was the time of day. What else could there be? She saw empty space from all angles of her subject. Her hint, though, was what she couldn’t see. But how could she figure it out if she couldn’t see it?! Maybe, it was more than that. Maybe…
“Give it a shot,” it laughed. “You’re finally in the perfect spot.”
“Clever,” she muttered, unamused.
Carefully, Shana stepped forward once and turned her camera slightly. She squinted with one eye and looked through her camera’s window with the other. The tree was beautiful from what she could tell in her tiny window. The shading provided by the sunset haloed itself around the exquisite greenery making up the grand tree in front of her.
“Whatever you are,” she said as she continued to fidget with the angle of her camera, “you have a good eye.”
“I appreciate that. Just let me know when you’re about to snap it!”
Shana blinked. “Why would you need to know that?”
“Have I not been help to you?”
“Have it your way.” She shrugged.
Finally, her camera was focused to her satisfaction. The shot was to be worth her time and effort. In what, she wasn’t sure, but something within her gut told her as such. All she needed was a steadier hand.
“Ready?” it asked.
“Yep!” she called out.
With the snap of the camera, the tree shifted.
Shana took a few steps back in astonishment.
“Try another one,” it urged.
Shana shook off the shocked feeling and readjusted herself. Just a few more, and then, I can leave.
With a series of clicks and angling of her camera, Shana gave a sigh of relief. Her perfect shot was in the reel. She was sure of it!
“Well,” she said with finality, “that’s it now. Whatever you are, I appreciated the tip.”
“Make sure to come back if all goes well for you!”
Shana gave half a laugh. “Sure.”
Her art gallery was set up slowly along the wall she’d been assigned. Fussing over the corners, something in the centerpiece caught her eye. Once it was secure, she took a few steps back to observe her work. The tree was just as she remembered it, and the photo hadn’t required any filters to highlight any blemishes. Nothing about it was blurry. There wasn’t even a smudge on the frame.
“Well, well, Shana,” a spectator startled her from behind. “I have to say that you’ve really outdone yourself. That tree you have almost looks like its smiling. Nice job!” With a passing pat on Shana’s shoulder, the spectator disappeared before she could give out a coherent response.
At the comment, Shana found herself squinting her eyes. She turned her head slightly to the right for the best vision. Then, she gasped in surprise. The tree didn’t look like it was smiling. It was smiling.
“I think I’ve lost it… Maybe, the tree was talking to me after all. Maybe, I wasn’t as crazy as I thought. Maybe…”
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Very clever. Enjoyable for sure. It made me smile.
I'm glad you liked it!