"Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times
I just shoot at what interests me at that moment." Elliott Erwitt
Winter had finally given way to the oncoming Spring that melted away it's white fluffy snow that twinkled when the sunlight's warm rays combed it during the day. Spring flowers started blooming and reached towards the sky while trees started waking up from their long slumber and produced beautiful, vibrant greens here and there with some showing off white flowers before wilting away and looking normal again. Small birds started fluttering here and there, showcasing their beautiful voices for all to hear, while squirrels ran around making irritating noises as usual.
It's the mid 1920s and the school had just started accepting females into their college, even though they made it hard for them to get in and only a select few were granted access. You had been definitely graced by God to be able to be granted this access due to your special talent and skills in photography that you had proven to the admissions office. It was still your first year here in the Trinity College in Cambridge, and so far it had been good. You loved all your classes, especially photography; you never seemed to get enough of it. You never went out of your way to speak to people unless needed to, you weren't close with anyone and preferred it that way; especially since there were very few female students. You just kept your distance and paced yourself through the courses so that you may one day be done with this and go on to much greater things that may lead you from the life you've had here in this place since the beginning.
You had some free time today and decided to go walk around Fellow's Garden, with your camera around hanging around your neck by a strap, to see what interesting and wonderful pictures you could capture; and hopefully show them to your professor who loved seeing what wonders you could show him. The Cherry trees were showing all pink and fluttering about. There were only a few other students wandering around like you, trying to clear their minds and enjoy the peace and quiet, however, there was one person who had been walking in the same direction you were without you even noticing one bit. You found a perfect shot of a Cherry tree with some falling pedals. You positioned your camera, ready to capture the wonderful moment that would soon be lost forever in time when you noticed a face through your lens looking straight at you making you stand up straight and a bit surprised.
The young man realized he'd been caught staring at you and apologized, of course. "I-I'm so sorry miss, I really didn't mean to stare. Especially in your view while you were taking a picture."
You just stared, you were incredibly shy and couldn't find the words to talk back to him; so you lowered your eyes towards your camera and kept them fixed there.
This made the young man feel a bit more embarrassed. "I was just curious about what you were doing and I wanted to watch. I'm sorry for intruding."
You at least nodded your head, letting him know that you understood what he was saying.
Feeling a bit more awkward in this situation, he looked at his wristwatch and bid you farewell and hoped to see you again. This, in turn, made you blush when he was out of site.
You were still clutching your camera, feeling a bit flustered and wondering how you hadn't noticed him standing there before taking a picture. After collecting yourself, and kicking him out of your mind, you decided to go about what you were doing for a little while longer. When you had captured a few more photographs to show your professor, you decided to head towards the library. It was indeed a beautiful place itself. Though you had to restrain yourself from snap-shooting everything and everyone in there at times.
When you arrived there, you noticed it was near noon and the choir would be practicing soon. Oh how you loved hearing them sing, it was soothing to say the least. You were walking down one isle of books when you turned to round a corner that led to another and accidentally bumped into someone, sending you a few steps back before two arms came to your shoulders to make sure you wouldn't fall.
Without thinking, you spoke to the person, "I-I'm s-s-so sorry. I wasn't paying attention to where I was going." You then looked up and noticed it was the same guy from earlier who was holding you by the shoulders. You froze, holding your hands on your camera, as if he was going to murder you.
He quickly took his hands off of you after seeing your reaction and apologized, again, as low as he could so he wouldn't disturb the others in there. "It's alright, love. I didn't mean to scare you like that, again." He chuckled nervously and rubbed the back of his head with his hand. "Is your camera alright? You practically impelled me with it." He rubbed his midsection where you'd plowed into him.
You looked a little horrified and tried to calm down, he seemed nice, but you weren't the talkative type. "Y-yes, it fine." You checked it over like a mother would her child. "A-ar-are you alright?" You asked, keeping your eyes lowered and not looking into his.
He smiled, "Of course. I'm just glad your camera is fine. I'd hate it to break and not be able to see the wonderful photos you take that are spread around parts of the school."
Your face turned beat read and he couldn't help but let out a little laugh. Not too long after that the bell rang, signaling that noon had arrived and the choir would soon be singing.
"Ahhh, lunchtime. I know it's sudden, but would you care to have lunch with me?" He asked so nicely, and maybe if you had known him better you would've taken him up on it, but all this attention he was giving you was making you feel sick to your stomach; and bringing back old memories that you'd care to keep back in a deep dark closet.
Instead of replying, you shook your head now with small tears on the side of your eyes and turned around and practically ran out of the library and back to your room. Arthur looked at you as you ran and felt a little hurt for you saying no and ran away. He just watched, and went about his business, wondering if he had said or did anything wrong to scare you off like that.
You stayed in your room for the rest of the day and didn't come out til the next morning when you had some classes to attend to.
It was a beautiful day out; the air was crisp and the sun's rays danced about saying hello to everything below with no clouds to disturb them. You were walking from your dorm towards the Great Court and stopped by the fountain; staring at it in a daze. Something about it then just caught your eye, so you took the camera that was around your neck and positioned yourself just right and snapped a wonderful moment in time. You smiled and walked on towards your photography class.
You arrived there before everyone else, well, so you thought. That's when you noticed him standing near the wall on the other side of the room; gazing at the photographs. In all honesty, you hardly ever paid attention to who was in your class, so you really weren't sure if he had your classes or was stalking you now. You turned your head away from him, pointing it down, and went straight to the professor to show him your newest photographs. Arthur had caught you in his peripheral vision and thought best to leave you be, but a smile appeared on his face; and decided to just listen to you and the professor talk away about your new captures.
Making it through the rest of your classes without being disturbed, you noticed that same young man had most of the same classes as you. The basic ones, of course, but not your photography class, which gave you a breather for a bit. However, fate would be unkind to you from now on, in your eyes that is.
A few weeks went by and you noticed he was trying to get closer to you. Bumping into you by accident and trying to make small talk, or ask where a building was since he was still new, which he knew anyways; which led you to turning around and leaving or trying to appease him with just a very bit of small talk then making up an excuse to leave. You hadn't the faintest idea on why he kept trying to talk to you. Maybe it was from the lack of females in the school or something. Whatever it was, you didn't like it, not at first, but, with him being around you more by accident you were starting to feel a little bit more at ease. Especially since he wanted to know more about your photographs when he found out you had that class. Oh, and he did introduce himself somewhere in between all this, though you completely forgot it.
One bright afternoon you were blessed with a nice quiet time outside of the library. So, you decided to have lunch under some shady trees. With no one around, you would savor this moment for as long as you could. Until you were disturbed of course.
"Ahem, um...I'm sorry to bother you, but would you mind if I had lunch with you?" The young blond man asked with a bright smile on his face and glimmering green eyes.
You stared up at him with half a sandwich in your mouth; making your cheeks puff out and earning you a small laugh from him, which, made you turn a little rosy and making your [E/c] eyes shine.
"Since you ran from me a few weeks ago when I asked you to have lunch with me that is."
There was nowhere to run and hide or any excuse you could give him so you could leave; he had caught you like a fly in a spiders web. Fighting that sick feeling in your belly, you nodded and gulped down your sandwich; hoping he wouldn't sit too close to you.
He sat down cross-legged like you and had a small picnic basket with him. He took out some food and drinks and sat near you, but not too close to make you feel any more uncomfortable than you already were. You just kept looking at him, wondering what he wants.
He took a bit of his sandwich, "Can I ask you something? Since we're both alone?"
You nodded nervously in his direction, your camera sitting next to your long dress in the nice soft grass.
"And do excuse me if I seem...rude or intruding on your personal space, but why do you distance yourself from everyone?"
You puffed out a side of your cheek and looked the other way. Wondering how you should answer that, or even answer at all.
"I-I mean, we have most of our classes together, more than most here in our field, and I haven't seen you really....talk to anyone on your own. Well, starting conversations I mean. I always see you by yourself." He added.
You looked up, "But I'm never by myself." You said boldly for once.
He had a surprised look on his face. "What?"
You took your camera in your hands and sat it in your lap. "I have this. My camera. I take it with me wherever I go, so I'm really never alone. With this, I can capture moments that will soon be lost in time, never to return. Moments that people take for granted and are unaware of what's around them. It's as though I'm capturing a special place in time that you can only see through a photograph. Something, that will make you stop and think about what's really around you." You looked down at it and had a smile on your face. But the smile looked more of a sad smile, a longing to find peace and happiness in a cruel and unforgiving world.
He sighed and chuckled. "And what about people?"
You never took your eyes off your camera. "...."
He kept prying, slowly, but wanting to know. "Forgive me, but why do you stay away from them?" He could tell you were having a hard time, so he didn't mind waiting for an answer.
"I just don't want to be near them, that's all." And that was all you were going to give him.
He let out a small sigh again and smiled, getting up knowing that was all you'd say this time and put the rest of his meal in his basket; but not before leaving a small present for you since you weren't paying attention to him at that moment. When he stood up, basket in tow, he smiled at you and said, "By the way, love, my name is Arthur." And turned to leave with a smile on his face. He knew you wouldn't have remembered, so he said it again anyways.
For some unknown reason you just happened to look up and instantaneously took a picture of him turning from you to leave. It was a beautiful moment that would be soon lost in time by mere seconds. The light breeze that danced its way through his soft golden hair and the gleam in his eyes saying "I'm here for you if you need anything" made you feel a bit more at ease than usual. The olive green suit he was wearing that day seemed to get your attention. You did love that color after all. He didn't mind you taking the picture of him, hoping it would help you in some small way. When he was gone you saw the small present he left for you. A small red velvet muffin. You were hesitant at first, but even though you've been through some stuff in your life, you knew, somewhere deep down inside, that not all people are bad. Time and patience is what is needed to get close to you, and for you to let people in if you so choose. You took it slowly and nibbled on it, tasting its wonderful flavor and closed your eyes letting out a beautiful smile. You finished up your meal and finished the day by staying in the dark room making the pictures you had taken come to life.
If there was one thing you absolutely did not like, it was thunder storms. Though it had rained some during the past few weeks, it was nothing compared to what was blowing in now. You knew you needed to get to your classes, but this was one obstacle that was keeping you from doing so. So, you stayed bundled up in your bed, hiding from the lightning and thunder that pursued the skies.
Arthur hadn't seen you in a few days and was beginning to worry. He wanted to come find you in your dorm, but thought better of it since he didn't want to scare you to death. He asked the professors and they didn't know. More like, they probably knew, but didn't want to tell anyone anything about why you weren't there. After three days of the thundering, howling storm, it finally slacked off to just rain and you proceeded to go about your classes. Apologizing to any professors you saw for not being there.
When there was a break in between your classes, Arthur walked cautiously behind you; following you until you both were alone so he could speak to you.
Finally, you were near the library when he reached out to you, only to have his hand knocked out of the way as you spun around and jerked your hand from him in surprise.
"Ah! __________, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you." He said with the same look on his face as you.
Instead of looking down, you almost met his eyes and kept your hands on your camera like always. "I-it's okay. I-I was lost in thought and I didn't know who was trying to grab me."
"Are you okay?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you haven't been to any classes for the past few days and I was worried that you were sick or something."
You could actually feel the concern in his voice. Normally you'd dismiss such, but for some reason, he seemed to be opening you up, little by little. For once, you simply let out a small smile and replied. "I'm fine, I just didn't like the thunderstorm and I don't have an umbrella. And I don't need to get soaking wet."
He looked at you and sighed. "Thank goodness. I have an extra umbrella if you'd like to have it?"
Before you could let out an answer a roaring boom of thunder had felt like it shook the building to the core. You hadn't noticed the sky getting dark and darted into a nearby small room after letting out a scream and hiding in it. Arthur, being the worried hen he was, ran involuntarily behind you without thinking and slowly opened the door you slammed shut; only to see you crouched in a corner of the utility room with your legs to your chest and your face buried in your skirt that covered your knees. Hiding in the shadows since the light was off, you had tears down your face sobbing. Without remembering how you hated being touched, he slowly bent down and put his arms around you. You were so caught up in the moment of being scared as more thunder shook that you clung to him like a child would its mother for protection and sobbed into his shirt.
After the storm finally calmed down a bit, you realized you were still clinging to him and pushed him away; turning towards the corner you were close to and burying yourself in it.
Arthur just sat there, watching you; pleading with you in his mind for you to tell him what's really wrong with you.
"____________?" He asked softly since you wouldn't look at him. "I'm not leaving until you tell me what's wrong."
That's when you started to really realize that you actually had someone there for you. A friend whom you could talk to, even though you had such a hard time doing so in the first place. You slowly turned your head around and looked at him with one eye, the other still hidden. "I-I-I t-t-old you, I d-d-on't like thunderstorms." You replied with a shaky voice.
"That's not what I meant _________, and you know it." This time, he wanted to know, and he wasn't going to leave or let you leave until you told him.
Nobody was around where you two were, so there was no reason to worry about anyone intruding on your conversation, for a while at least since most of the students and teachers were hiding out and having lunch.
With part of your face still towards him, your eyes averted to look straight ahead; lost in the memories of a world you'd rather not remember. But, this time it came back to the surface.
You sighed, still looking forward and away from him, "Then what do you mean?"
He said down on his knees. "Aside from talking to nobody unless you absolutely have to, why does it bother you when someone touches you or comes near you? I know I'm prying, and forgive me, but it's really worrying me now. More than it should."
"Then why let it worry you? I'm no different than anyone else here, or in the world for that matter. I'm just a nobody like you and everyone else." You had no tone in your voice when replying to him.
"Because you're different. In a good way." He said matter-of-factly.
"How, in a good way?" You asked back.
"Have you seen the amazingly wonderful photographs you take and are displayed?"
"Do you not remember what you told me the other day about why you carry your camera around with you?"
You nodded a yes for your reply.
"And have you not really seen your artworks?"
This made you turn your head a little to fully look at him with a quizzical expression on your face.
He continued, "How can someone make such beauty and be a nobody? You certainly aren't a nobody to this college. Why else would they have accepted you? Have they not helped you refine any of your already amazing talent with capturing the moment that'll soon be lost in time forever? Do you really think someone hasn't looked at them and have some kind of change of thought in their life? Maybe make them think about something in a whole new way? Give them a better direction in life? Inspire them? Wow them? And be really amazed that such a photograph had been taken when they never noticed the place where it had been taken before?" His eyes were practically glistening with light tears, but a dazzling smile was on his face.
You were awestruck by his words. You did love the photographs you took and had on display, along with your personal photos that no one else could see. It made you think for a moment about what he said. Was it true that there were people who really enjoyed your works? Aside from your professors who showed great enthusiasm for them? Until you came to this college, you had never been praised for anything. You had been teased all your life, ridiculed, beaten by life's cruel game of cat and mouse. Your parents the cat and you the mouse. You had no friends, not even one. You had no idea what it was like to have one either, and was wondering if this is what friendship should be like. Where someone cared for you this much to keep being persistent in trying to talk to you, have patience with you when you wanted to run away and hide, and, stay by your side in frightful time; but also, not leaving until they know you're okay and wanting to know what's wrong. The Truth.
"But, why do you you care so much about me when you can just keep enjoying what I make? Instead of talking to me?" This was the only thing you could manage to get out at the time.
He just looked at you with those caring eyes, "Do you really want to know the truth?"
He sighed. "Aside from all that I just said, you look like you could really use a friend. Someone to lean on when times are good and bad. To talk to so you don't have to keep it bundled up inside and hide it on it on your own. Not from pity, but from someone who genuinely cares."
"And what about you? Don't you have any friends?"
"Not really no. I was always the kid everyone picked on growing up. I had one friend, who came to me when I needed him most, but then he and his parents moved away and I haven't been able to talk to him since. So, I know what it's like to go through this world alone. And, no one should have to do so."
Now you understood why he was so persistent. It's not that he was trying to be annoying to you, you seemed like someone who was in need of a friend, and was secretly calling out to someone, anyone, who would answer that silent call. And someone did, you just weren't aware of it until now. You still didn't want to be touched or talk, but, something in you told you that it was alright to trust him. But, to be careful that no one else was around to listen.
"Alright. I'll tell you, but not here. Where words echo off the walls, and the walls have ears."
He nodded and stood up. With the storm gone, and only a light sprinkle of rain slowly going away, you both walked to the Fellow's Garden where no one would surely be out right now. It was still a bit cloudy, but there you both would have peace. Once there, you both made sure no one was around and slowly walked the stone path there.
"It's not just thunderstorms that I'm afraid of. It's what came with it that made me more afraid."
Arthur listened intently, still trying to keep a small distance between both of you as you talked.
"Ever since I can remember, my parents always beat me. It seemed no matter what I did, good or bad, I always got hurt. I never understood why, and they never told me why. I had no way of correcting myself either to please them. No matter what I did, I just couldn't make them happy. Because I'm afraid of thunderstorms, I would cry whenever one came and they'd hit me more than usual and tell me to stop whining and crying so much. That it was just water and it would only hurt me if they drowned me in it. I was always covered in bruises, so I wore lots of long dresses and shirts when I went out so no one would know. I was afraid to make friends, because I didn't want them to get hurt either. As I grew older, it still kept going on. One time I had a black eye and the teacher was concerned, so I lied and told her I ran into something in the middle of the night when I got up. I had to lie a lot. I'm sure they knew, but because I wouldn't confess to them, there was nothing they could do except watch and wonder when my last day on this planet would be. So during all my years, I looked to photography to see if there was any good in this world. Anything I could capture in time to help me remember that no matter what pains I would have to endure, that I could keep going and share it with the world. Surely there must be goodness where evil lurks. When my parents found out that I wanted to come here for photography, I had to hear so much unwanted things from them. The ridicule I got was almost unbearable. They said it was a waste of time and money and that I wouldn't get anywhere in life and that I'd be crawling back them. But when I finally got here and showed the administrators what I had to offer, they helped me get the scholarships I needed to pursue my dream. I guess they could be considered the first real nice people I came into contact with. Aside from some of my primary school teachers. They gave me a chance when they didn't have to. And I told them I needed a place to stay, and they let me stay in one of the nicer rooms. A living space all to myself and not having to share it with anyone. I do like my privacy honestly. That's why I don't like being touched or talk to people. My parents were always loud, and I just don't like the loudness."
Arthur was amazed that you had spoken this much about yourself instead of a short answer. He was appalled at what your parents had done and would love to see them punished for it. But, that was then and this is now. You looked at him to see his reaction and he just gave you that warm loving smile a friend would give when you needed it most.
"I'm very sorry you had to endure all that, and I'm glad you could get a wonderful break in life to get away from them. I do hope you make it all the way and can get away from here to show everyone that beautiful work you do."
You blushed a bit at the praise he gave you. You really needed to get use to it, but showing humility never hurt anyone.
"May I ask something else of you?" He asked sincerely as you two strolled about.
You nodded, "S-sure."
"What does a wonderful person like you like?"
"Hmm? Like what?" You were not use to these kinds of questions.
"Like, what do you like. For instance, what's your favorite color? Flower? Something about you. Aside from the bad side you told me, what about this other side? The lighter side that's waiting to blossom?"
You thought for a moment, wondering how to answer that without sounding stupid. "Well...I do like morning tea. Soft, delicious and smells great, so does the taste."
"Ahh, I do enjoy that myself."
"Also, for flowers, I'd have to say white roses. They represent innocence, purity. Something that's hard to find in life for a person like me who's so damaged."
"It also means secrecy and silence too, love." He added, giving you a cheesy grin.
"Oh you are NOT funny."
"Hey now, I was only kidding."
"I guess I'll have to get use to that kind of teasing won't I?" You showed a little more smile.
Right then the sky started parting and the clouds gave way to the beaming rays of sunlight that soon danced all around you two.
You both looked around and saw everything shimmering and glittering all around you. Like in a magical fairytale where faeries were dancing about, celebrating the suns return after a lovely rainfall.
Arthur noticed something that you hadn't and spoke up. "Do you remember the first time we met?"
You just looked at him. "Um...kinda, yeah...why?"
"Well I'm sure an excellent photographer would remember that this is the first place we met, correct?"
You looked around, and noticed the same cherry tree where you first saw him through your camera and stared in awe. "I guess you got me there right?"
"Indeed. Funny how things works. You ran away from me that day and now we're standing together as friends."
He noticed a bush next to the tree that had roses in it. White ones by chance and picked one, then presented it to you.
"What's this for?" You asked looking at him curiously.
"Well we know what white roses mean, correct? How about, we make them mean a new beginning of friendship?" He had that same warm smile on his face as he held the beautiful, delicate rose out to you.
You returned the warm smile that he so longingly had waited for and took it in your hand and smelled it slowly. And then looked at him from behind it. "Alright then. To a new a friendship."
With that said, you both started to walk back the way you came. Although summer was now around the corner and most people would be going home and visiting their families and friends, you and Arthur would be staying at the college, getting to know one another bit by bit, day by day; and taking it slowly.
For the first time ever, you had a friend.
"You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved." - Ansel Adams