Bad News

Leslie sat in her car outside the cemetery for what seemed like an eternity. What was this? How could it be?

She didn't want to believe it but here it was, staring her in the face. An impossible picture developed under the cold hard light of reality.

She pulled out the camera and examined it, her hands still shaking a little from the shock of seeing the impossible. It looked perfectly normal, a little wear and tear but nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing to indicate this. Thinking perhaps it was some kind of joke, that perhaps someone had refitted a computer or something that could reprocess the image inside the camera, she fiddled with it to try and open the film compartment. It was jammed. No, it was more than that. It didn't budge at all, as if it had been welded shut, as if it had never meant to be opened at all.

This is what her father had seen to upset him so much, that must be it. But why, who would pull such a cruel trick on her and a senile old man? What was there to gain?

She couldn't think of anything, any explanation and that meant only one thing. It was real, somehow, impossibly so, it was real. She lost herself in that thought for a long time before her mbile phone rang, making her jump out of her seat.

"H-Hello?"

"Hello Leslie, it's Doris, from down the road?" Doris's frail, old voice croaked down the phone.

"Hello Doris." Leslie breathed a sigh of relief, "You nearly scared me half to death! How are you?"

"Oh I'm fine. I just wanted to say hello. We missed you today at the photography workshop."

"I completely forgot. I'm so sorry Doris!"

"Not to worry, dear. I'm sure you have other things on your mind more important than looking after us old folk."

"Don't be silly Doris, you know that's not true." Leslie said, rolling her eyes. Doris had a habit of guilt-tripping people into doing what she wanted. She has once roped poor Robert into putting up some shelves for her in the middle of his rounds after a tale about broken hips and loneliness. "Tell you what, how about we do another slot tomorrow, two o'clock?"

"Oh yes dear, that would be lovely. I do so love your workshops."

"It's a date then. Good bye Doris."

"Good bye dear, you're such a sweetie."

"Good bye." Leslie sighed, trying to keep any trace of exasperation out of her voice as she hung up.

She had an ulterior motive in setting up another workshop. There was something strange about this camera, something... other. She wanted to see what it could do and where better to try it out than at a photography workshop?

Sighing, she started the car and pulled away from the cemetary towards home. Today had been exhausting, both mentally and physically and all she wanted to do was rest for a moment.

When she got home, Leslie put on the kettle and when it was boiled slumped in fron of the TV with a cup of hot, steaming tea. She didn't bother turning it on, not wanting to be bothered by the news and mundanity of daytime television but instead just laid there, taking in the simple comfort of resting in a familiar place. Presently, she slipped off and began to dream.

In the dream she was dancing with a nondescript partner in a gigantic ballroom, so large she couldn't see the ceiling. All around her photographers took pictures, clamouring to get a glimpse of the famous Leslie Klein and her new dancing partner. Every time she tried to see her partner's face, he turned it away, or his hair fell across it, obscuring it or the flash of a camera momentarily blinded her. The fates seemed to conspire against her knowing her partners identity as the dance got faster and faster and the clamour of photographers ever louder and louder, pressing in more and more until she was surrounded in a solid wall of lenses and the white noise of constant yammering. Suddenly her partner was gone and in his place a tower of photographs. She picked one up after another but she couldn't make out the pictures, as if the film hadn't fully developed, leaving only a smudgy, faded blur. As she picked up the last photo in the pile it all came into focus.

Leslie jolted awake as the door bell rang, knocking the old camera she had on her lap to the floor. Suddenly aware of what she had done, she scooped up the camera, half expecting to find the fragile old thing damaged by the fall. Luckily, it appeared to be fine and so cradling it, she walked over to the front door. It was Jane.

"Hello Leslie, may I.." Jane said, choking back a sob, "may I come in?"

"Oh Jane, of course you can. Whatever is the matter? What's wrong?"

"It's Robert, he..I...I knew you were friends and I... I thought you should know..oh god..."

Leslie guided Jane to a chair and sat down besides her.

"Jane, what happened Is Robert okay?"

Jane broke down into tears and cried into Leslie's arms. "He...he...he...he's dead. Robert's dead!"

"Oh Jane. Oh Jane, what happened. God, poor Robert. I'm so sorry." Tears pricked at the corner of her eyes and began to make their way down her face.

"He... they said he killed himself. Suicide. Why did he leave me alone? Why didn't he say something was wrong?"

Leslie didn't know the answers, so they both held each other and cried.

The End

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