Oracle: Sunday Best

It had taken hours to set up for this shot. Dawn in Seattle wasn’t something it felt like you were supposed to see. Benjamin was on rooftop near the Space Needle, fiddling with an old tripod. Tubes shooting up to the slender man’s height carried the delicate cargo of an expensive camera with a heavy lens fitted over it.

In his apartment were tacked photos that he had taken all around the state and beyond. Memories from past lives, eras of his life all recorded in some way and strung up around his flat. Tragically, he lived in the building of which he was on top of, but his windows didn’t face downtown. It didn’t do those gorgeous skyscrapers justice to see only some of the Puget Sound and the waterfront.

Benjamin’s goal was to get a photo of the rising sun, lined up with his street, with the Space Needle in focus to the right. That way, the sun would appear as if it were tearing through the city. Light rays would cascade through the grid and to the sensors of his camera. Given the lack of clouds this morning, the tilt of the sun, and the time of day, this exact shot might not happen again for a while.

He spent a lot of time on photography these days. Being an electrician didn’t exactly set oneself up for a speedy jump into a photography career, but it was his passion outside of work. On a clear autumn day, he found a time to be able to access his roof and set up for a photo that may never happen again. This was the sun’s opportunity knocking.

As the sun began to peek over the horizon, Benjamin had already taken 50 shots of the darkness to sort through later. Over the course of 30 minutes, he would endure the raw sunrays, amassing a full hard drive of photographs of this one moment.

He would take the tripod down and sift through them on the camera itself, before slinging it back into a camera bag and hoisting the tripod over his shoulder to take the stairs down to his flat.

After taking a nap before work, Benjamin awoke again to see to his boring job in the boring city of Seattle where none of the problems were his. His coveralls would be hiding a tucked-in collared shirt and tie, which he refused to be seen in public without. They would get splattered with water, grease, and sparks all day. Then when he could return to his apartment he had a client for a photography shoot.

In his apartment was a modest studio with a white backdrop, fit for taking photos of the smallest details in a five star dinner and the most endearing of newlywed couples.

Benjamin’s clients today were an old man and his wife, come to get photos for this year’s Christmas card. They were terribly old. Easily in their 80’s. No doubt having lived lives with stories upon stories, though they appeared to have difficulty moving. He may have served in World War 2. She might have been a part of Women’s Suffrage. They both survived Nixon and JFK, and all their friends’ children when they were drafted to fight in Vietnam. So many times they had come close to being a statistic. Yet now they were here to get photos in an electrician’s apartment, just as they had done last year.

When Benjamin opened his door, they were right on time and dressed in their sunday best. He welcomed them in, sat the wife on a chair and posed the older husband over her. They were a sweet couple. They color coordinated their outfits for church, the same ones they would wear in this photograph. As he screwed in the camera to his tripod once again, its name “Oracle” scratched into the body drank in the ambient light from the afternoon outside the apartment window.

Maybe the old couple knew what might happen next. Maybe they tried last year and didn’t quite get the effect they desired. Oracles tell the future.

Benjamin tuned the device, set the timer for two seconds, and hit the shutter. 2… 1… and a flash from the studio lights. They were gone. Every shred of them and their existence… gone. But in the photograph foretold by the Oracle, they remained. Trapped, but not dead. Trapped in the moment as its own universe, where there was nothing but themselves, the sterile white backdrop, and their sunday best. Forever captured as a sweet, smiling couple, and never to be free from the cage.

(PDF Version: oracle sunday best)

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