Click. Click. Click.
“Why do you take so many photographs?” the man asks, the bright streak through his hair perfect for capturing the light. A leading line, directing eyes down to his own, hidden behind their shades. “Can’t you just let people be?”
Shutter snaps. Apertures narrowing and widening as shadows fall across it. Lens cap tossed, abandoned on the ground beneath the endless, repeating sounds of the camera. “I’m not disturbing anyone,” the photographer answers, still and unmoving. Each passer-by immortalized, forever, in the pixels.
A photograph, an image, is a slice of time. A single fraction of a second, a moment gone - right there, then, there’s hundreds gone as they blur together in the facade called life. Plucked away, frozen in the memory of the camera, with each slight press of the button, with each blink of the LED lights at its front. And saved, for just the right time.
“You’re not,” he admits, “but they don’t like it. They don’t know what you’ll do with them.”
For each snapshot is a slice of that life, and slices draw blood. Sometimes they’re harmless, a small cut to be plastered over and forgotten. Sometimes they pierce deeper. They’re a knife, a jagged shard of glass to tear people apart from the inside; they’re evidence, laid out in court filings and dry, 12-point-Century font; they’re questions, sins captured on record that cast an angel from heaven.
She lowers the camera at last, flicking back through the images onscreen. “People take pictures all the time. They share them with their friends and family, put them on slideshows. I do nothing different.”
His name is Isaac Blanc, and he has lied seventy-two times. Each is documented, captured on rolls of film and handed over silently, a thousand words of incrimination. “Not pictures like these. Not like you do. How many people hate you for it?”
“I don’t keep count.” The camera hangs heavy around her neck, black plastic and shaped glass. “I don’t tell them to do it. I just make sure they remember.”
“They don’t want to,” he insists, jabbing a finger at her. “People do bad things and it doesn’t matter, and it falls through the cracks. They keep living their life and no one cares, in the end. We don’t have to keep their memories for them.”
Another passerby walks by them, a woman with short hair dyed a brilliant red. Her phone rings, and she raises it to her ear, the tap of ‘Decline Call’ synced with the click of the shutters. “How many times have I been wrong?” she says softly, lowering it from her eye once again. “How many times would it be better not knowing?”
“Maybe sometimes,” he says, reaching down and picking up the lens cap. He could put it back on, cover up the machine beneath and release someone from their penance. “Maybe never. But…how do you know? What pictures were you given that tell you this is right, that make you sure of this?”
Her mouth tightens, falls. “Not pictures. Not like that,” she says, with a tiny shake of her head. “In here. My pictures, my memories. I can’t give them to you, can’t convince you. But I know what they say.” Up comes the camera, a shield to hide her face behind.
Another person. Another lie.
Click. Click. Click.