Jessie by Tiffany Greenfield

The door was off a back alley by Pike.  It was dark and he knew better than to enter the interior door without knocking.  He felt the rolls of film in his pocket and thought, “More valuable than gold.”    Joe emerged from the door.  “Hey man, what you got?”  He laughed, “Just the usual, looking for a ghost or a girl.”

Joe called him sooner than later and all his message had said was, “Stop by.”  He finished his day and after he had lost the last of the light, he went to see him.  He found Joe in his usual position, sitting on a stool behind his shop counter leaning back so only two of the legs were on the floor and his back against the wall.  Looking Joe in the eye he asked, “So is it a girl or a ghost?”  Joe stared back, “Both.”

Joe led him into the soft glowing light of the darkroom.  It took his eyes a minute to focus.  It was difficult to know where to look with so many trays, liquid solutions, and pictures drying on lines.  All of them, his pictures, his moments, frozen in his mind but now printed as proof.    Joe stepped forward and removed one of many from the line.  “Am I right?  It’s her, isn’t it?”  He knew she had been there when he took the picture, he felt her presence, but he hadn’t seen her, until now.  The picture was of the Market, full of shoppers, people moving in all directions, except for one.  She stood motionless in the center of the frame, looking straight into his lens.  Hair swept to the side in a loose braid, torn pea coat, the dark circles under her eyes proof of her bruised and wandering soul.  Joe’s voice cracked, “Jessie.”


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