Say “Cheese” – Part 1

Tollin tipped her head and drew a breath. “You have something to say? Something to tell me?”

Melody nodded. “Y-yes. A-a s-story. And you have to p-promise to hear all of it before you do anything else. Deal?”

Tollin tipped her foot back and rocked it side to side on the heel of her shoe, considering. In a moment, she nodded. “Yeah, deal. Is this important?”

Melody nodded. “Yes. Very.”

“What’s it about?”

“It’s about this camera,” she gestured to the object in her lap, and Tollin could see now it was an old, metal-cased camera trimmed with silver, the exterior battered and scraped, black portions worn and scarred.

“Okay. What’s so important about the camera, Melody?” Tollin kept her voice even despite being dubious. Maybe the nurse was right after all.

“This camera — it’s not a regular, normal camera. It’s a … it …”

Tollin waited, watched the tears well in the girl’s eyes, and stepped forward to put a hand on her shaking shoulder. Melody flinched and jerked her head up, eyes wide, then calmed again.

“What? The camera is what?”

“It’s not a … not a … regular camera. You know?”

Tollin shook her head. “I don’t think I understand, sweetie.”

“This camera … it’s weird. It — well, it doesn’t just take pictures, like a normal camera. It takes … more. Much more.”

“Like what?”

“See, it’s … the camera, it’s …”

Tollin waited. The girl seemed to be getting agitated again, her face painted in agony, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“The camera is what, Melody?”

“It’s … full of souls.”

Tollin blinked. “Full of … what?”

“Souls. It’s full of souls. The souls of my friends. And I don’t know how to get them out.”

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