Day 15 (A picture is worth a 1,000 words)

One day they weren’t there, and the next they were.

They had been left on the sidewalk, blithely placed in front of a brick walled apartment, some charming shrubbery.

At first people had walked past them, but then something would catch their eye. A boy had bounded down the steps for his morning paper route, hand checking the cap on his head that was threatening to free itself, and his gait was abruptly cut short by an odd shadow, a reflex of his eyes that searched for movement, kinetic energy, life, yet found none. Slowly he had traced his steps back and stood before the listless figures and stared. He looked for a very long while, and then eventually turned away and continued at a sober pace, a mysterious emotion playing in his eyes.

But, where had he found the clothes? they wondered. The bright pink coat on the girl provoked sadness for some reason, as she stood captivated by the man, clutching her small, black purse. The boy at attention like a soldier. What kind of paints could produce such startling, sharp realism? And their expressions, people would whisper.

The reactions were undependable. Many would pass by on their way to someplace else, notice, and decide to nervously ignore them, too afraid to stare as if the figures possessed a sense of propriety and the rudeness would become a palpable, real thing. Children would always ask to stop and look, and would even reach out to touch them, drawn to the children clutched by the stern man, and mothers would scold before remembering they weren’t real. A few women would gaze silently at the still family and tentatively pose beside the man as someone took a picture, pretending to be a wife and mother. Neighborhood kids rushing down the street on their bicycles would gather at the manikins as if they were a new club meeting spot.  Word spread and soon strangers came driving by just to catch a glimpse, to prove the rumors and stories they picked up while shopping for tunafish in isle 7, or while at church during meet and greet. Over black coffee in a friend’s parlor. A little girl stuck daisy chains on their heads, men would carefully study them, baffled and intrigued. They captivated everyone.

Then one morning the old man emerged from his room on the 8th floor, rode the elevator down to ground level and stepped outside. He was nearly ancient. His hair had gone completely white, his long beard snowy and soft. He wore an argyle seater vest over a white, button-down shirt, slacks, soft penny loafers and a wooden cane, which he did use. Something about him begged a sort of esoteric eccentricity, like he knew things. His neighbors always wondered what sort of hobbies kept him so occupied; no crackle and song emanated from the television during humid summer evenings. No morning papers, no parcels. Not even a dog.

He silently made his way to the manikins, back hunched over, and picked them up. Everyone kept perfectly still as he swayed first to the left, then to the right, and eventually steadied back on his heels. People in arm, he walked over to the double doors as a girl quickly opened them, and disappeared.

It took everyone a good while to reconcile the fact that the family was gone. No one ever figured out why he did what he did, what was the purpose in making them, because they never asked him.

And he never told.

DP writing challenge

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22 comments

  1. Divina F · November 7, 2012

    Creepy!
    I especially loved your opening sentence; it hooked me immediately.

  2. beautifulthingchicago · November 7, 2012

    Another great piece! Keep them coming!

  3. emekatalks · November 7, 2012

    interesting read. thanks for sharing :)

  4. Very intriguing story! I love you writing style—you definitely keep the reader hooked! Congrats on being FP!

  5. nrhatch · November 7, 2012

    Well told tale! Such an interesting take on the photo.

  6. Janet · November 7, 2012

    Great take on the image.An incredibly engaging story.

  7. Lucy · November 7, 2012

    Thank you!

  8. eof737 · November 7, 2012

    A great and engaging read. Kudos on being freshly Pressed! 8-)

  9. 5thingstodotoday · November 7, 2012

    I really like your blog and would love you to feature on mine, http://www.5thingstodotoday.com. All you have to do is write five suggestions along with a link back to your site. Please check out the blog and see the sort of things people have written about.

    • Lucy · November 7, 2012

      Will do, thanks.

  10. Pingback: Day 15 (A picture is worth a 1,000 words) | birdmanps
  11. happyflowerwordzoo002 · November 7, 2012

    Enjoyed how you turned this into performance/street art. T-riffic. Thank-you.

  12. Natalie · November 7, 2012

    Reblogged this on Parted Only By Ocean.

    • Lucy · November 7, 2012

      I’ve been reblogged? Huh. It feels good! :] Thank you for reading.

  13. legendsofyouth · November 7, 2012

    Great post, thanks for sharing and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  14. rhcpchick1co · November 7, 2012

    thx!

  15. scenes of a very human nature · November 7, 2012

    great writing !

  16. leekirs1 · November 7, 2012

    Excellent use of language, and very creative. I wrote mine before I had read any others, but still found the same themes popping up again and again- kids going to mass with Dad, and mom passed away. I thought your take on the whole thing to be quite original, and I am even more impressed with the way you string your words along. :)

    • Lucy · November 7, 2012

      Thank you! I appreciate the feedback more than you can imagine. :]

  17. silvanthato · November 7, 2012

    Wow that was a great read! Such an amazing writing style and so creative. I saw this challenge and I wasn’t sure how I would approach it but it wouldn’t have come close to this originality. Great stuff, I look forward to reading more of your stuff. Subscribed I have!

  18. clivereedmanphotography · November 7, 2012

    Reblogged this on A Life in Brighton and commented:
    Wonderful image and beautiful writing ..

  19. filmcamera999 · November 7, 2012

    Reblogged this on filmcamera999.

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