The View Finder [Short Story]

DeAlexander Clarke
Genre: General Fiction

And so the young man sat upon the old park bench just outside the bus-station. It was a small area, surrounded by a few isolated trees, and immaculately paved just to the right of that bench, a stone road, winding in and out, creating a sort of distortion. There was a wooden ramp which led to a larger platform upon which a small shack-like structure was built and this is where most of the travelers brought their tickets. Some were not traveling far. Twenty dollars would get you a trip to the Big City, and ten dollars would get you just outside the border of this small Pennsylvania County.

Every twenty five minutes after the second hour, that large steel caterpillar rolled up to the station, and like clockwork the passengers would exit. Many of them dressed in their large goose feathered-coats and others adorned with leather coats. The winter weathers were in its final days, and though the return of the invigorating spring months was close, these passengers took great care in protecting their body, lest they be the victim of the unfortunate common cold.

The young man had been busy at the moment, his left eye peering into the viewfinder of his DSLR and capturing shots of the trees just across from where he had been sitting. The shots were not of the cleanest quality, for he had suffered a few setbacks with his lens. He had gotten into a heated argument with his brother who had, through a fit of rage, thrown his camera down the stairs, resulting in a small crack upon the lens. With no money to repair it, he was forced to use it as is.

In his younger years, his mother cautioned him to forgo his passion for photography. Having been raised in a house dominated with people desirous of material accomplishments, this young man sought support elsewhere. While the rest of his family gathered at their dining table, papers sprawled about the crystal glass; forgoing the emotionally nourishing family dinner for a rather mundane discussion about securing wealth, this young man retreated to his room.

He had within his possession many books in regards to photography, learning the basic concepts of composition, lighting and all the sciences behind it. When his father lectured him about the theories of economics, he countered with the importance of the camera’s shutter speed. When Mother made him aware of the sporadic movements of the stock market, this young man offered a look of astonishment. But to mother’s astonishment, his surprise was not in her tedious and boring explanations of the bear and bull markets, but rather, in the glorious lighting her auburn hair had captured when she stood under his room’s light.

Hearing this of course inspired scoffs of condescension from his Mother, and in turn, feelings of doubt from the young man, but… these were quick, and as soon as Mother left his room, so would these feelings and an even stronger passion for photography would replace the old. It was a passion that led this young man to that small wooden bench at the bus stop.

His eye was in that viewfinder and was under the mercy of those fractured 50mm lens. His very soul surrendering to the boldness of the green grass, and to the electricity of the blue skies. The contrast of the gray columns of the buildings in the distance, and the blackened roads tickled his senses with the sort of subtlety only found in some of the most delectable Italian dishes. When the bus pulled from the station, the 50mm lens had settled upon a figure. The sight was so enchanting that the young man had to remove his eye from the viewfinder.

“My goodness,” said the boy in a baritone voice. Though the lens had offered him a better picture, the extraordinary presence of this figure forced him to squint and dip his head forward. When it was clear he was not hallucinating, the young man brought the camera back up, and zoomed in on the figure. And there she stood, absently, her hand placed upon her hip, with a slight protrusion of it, a clear signal of unbridled femininity. Her hair had been down, and not put up into a bun. Most women opted for the bun-up look, as I call it, choosing to diminish any energetic marking of femininity. Hoping that in this small gesture, they would make clear to any man subdued with the spirit of love (or lust), that they were never to be looked at in such a way unless given the permission to do so. But this woman was not of that nature. She was quite secure in her energy, and very welcoming of it.

Golden streaks of hair accented the otherwise darkened brown strands, and to the average observer, her hair color would have seemed strange, but to the young man, this was nothing short of amazing. The bone structure was circular, and though some of her features had been sharp, overlaying them was a small layer of fat softening it. Almond shaped eyes were shaded in darkened make-up and conservative amounts of red lipstick had been applied. Her waist-length leather jacket was only buttoned a few inches high leaving her crimson red blouse exposed, along with a small amount of cleavage, though this could not be observed due to the small silver dolphin chain resting upon that area.
In her hazel eyes there was an adventurous light; a desire to dine with novelty. To explore the world and seek out new experiences. She was not the one to delight in the mundane nor was she the one to find solace in monotony. In fact, she had not even figured out a place to stay. This stop was just another leg of an eternal journey and further solidifying this fact was the large square luggage sitting idly beside her. Inside were all her possessions, one in particular holding significant value.

Upon her shoulder rested a thickly strapped leather bag and inside this bag had been her life’s fortune. Every payment she had received through her trips tightly rolled into a ball and placed into a small plastic bag. Some would describe her lifestyle as bordering the principles of a Spartan, mixed with the philosophies of the Cynics, though she was not as languid as the cynic. When she did have ample money, she would on brief occasion, spoil herself. The expensive shoulder bag being a prime example of this, for on the front read in big bold letters: LOUIS XV

As the passengers retreated to their cars and those waiting for their ride absconded, what had been left was the faint sound of the early spring breeze whipping through the air, sending off shivers to the naked and premature leaves. The clicking sound of her black high heels echoed as she kept down the small stone road past the bus station.
And as those almond eyes scanned the area with a sort of child-like curiosity they came across a young man. Yes that same young man in the distance who could not take his eyes off of her. The two had met, and in this brief meeting; in the meeting of her hazel with his brown, came a spark. A certain feeling set within the pit of their stomach. A cocoon of inquiry bursting forth into a million butterflies. They flapped their wings furiously and in each stomach, they took full control, sending a flashing, elevating the temperature in their bodies. The young man kept his camera half-elevated, and those brown eyes opened wide, and due to his sudden shock had allowed his lower lip to part slightly.

So this is what love at first sight feels like, he thought to himself. The woman had similar thoughts, but what arrested her train of thought was that camera lens. This immediately sent an additional hot-flash through her body, and her cheeks began to flush. She stopped her stride, almost as if a phantom had stood in front of her path, with its chest poked out, blocking her. And soon that ‘phantom’ would guide those steps towards the bench where the man had been sitting.

When he had noticed the woman approaching, the young man realized he had been aiming his camera right at her. To some, this could be misinterpreted as intruding, or invasive of one’s space, so with this in mind, the young man quickly turned the lens down so that it would sit into roughness of his blue jean pants. He returned his gaze to the woman who now had been standing in front of him.

She did not say anything.
There was stillness.

The occasional chirping bird filled the void as the two locked eyes with each other, and after this awkward silence, the woman dropped to one knee to pull the zipper back from her luggage. A hand dipped inside, and she tilted her head, hoping this small gesture would help her find what she was looking for.

The young man was undoubtedly confused, but still astonished by her beauty. He was not the most attractive man so to see this beautiful woman awkwardly sifting through her bag lessened the anxiety that would normal seize a man at this moment. When she had found what she was looking for, she stood to her feet, her hand holding onto a small black box. It had been tied with a small red ribbon. The borders of the box had been trimmed with silver and gold coloring, and upon the box read a small note: “ give with love only”

Now a possession of such value would have inspired feelings of caution while handling it in front of a stranger, but this woman felt a sort of comfort in the man’s unassuming nature. Normally a man would have spoken by now, offering over-exaggerated flirtations, or even commenting on her beauty. But this man did not. He kept his eyes upon her, quietly observing her movements, partly because he was still in awe of her beauty, and partly because of his lack of social grace.

But his deficiency in this would soon be put to rest because almost immediately, the beautiful woman set the box in his lap. She took a few steps back, and those arms extended, her petite hands resting upon her hips, eyes darting to the sky in a coy fashion, with a bright smile upon her face.

Was she?
Yes she was.

She was posing, the young man thought to himself. And all the awkwardness he felt. All the anxiety seizing him at the moment retreated and he could not help but offer a half-grin.

But there was no conversation between the two. No exchange of those precious verbs, nouns and adjectives. No societal masks put on for the moment, only to be discarded as soon as one bids their farewell. Nothing of the sort. Instead, she removed one hand from her hip, and then sent those fingers through her brown hair, stopping mid-way, her other hand pointing to the black box in his lap.

Her insistence brought the man’s curiosity to levels that would have to be addressed. The constant posing, and the feeling which he had initially felt could not be ignored. He dropped his gaze to the black box and a hand took hold of it. Still, the woman had been posing in the background and after her third pose, which consisted of her holding both hands through her shoulder length hair, she kept that position.

The man observed the box, hoping there would be no unfortunate surprises for him. But the chances were too slim. In his county? The area rarely had criminals and when it did, it was for some of the most innocuous things. Though that did not stop the local cops from converging like maddened cowboys for the casual jay-walker.

With bated breath, he took hold of the box with both hands; carefully setting his camera between his lap and when he had opened the box he could not believe his eyes.
“So, are we going to do this, or what?” she said, while offering a wink.


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