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by Kevin Tosca

Diane’s father took thousands of pictures. Hundreds of thousands. Millions. She never saw his face. The lens was the face. The lens became the father.

When she was nine, she started sneaking his cameras into her bedroom, slept with them by her side, felt their presence, watchful and unrelenting, throughout the night.

She never slept better.

When she was fourteen, her first boyfriend’s stepfather turned out to be an amateur photographer. She wanted the stepfather more than she wanted the son, would’ve melted like an icicle in apocalypse had he so much as grazed her elbow in that darkroom.

She moved to the Big City after college. It wasn’t because she liked the Big City, it was because there were more tourists and artists there. More cameras.

When she finally got her own apartment, she decorated it with them, hundreds of them, thousands. Filled every space, covered every wall. Friends and acquaintances, thinking she was a collector, gave her their old ones. Lovers, thinking she was a professional, splurged on new ones, tracked down rare ones.

But they never saw her take one photograph. She said she needed them to take them, but she didn’t even need that.

When these men stopped shooting and set the cameras aside, they couldn’t understand why she became so upset. The ones who chose broken machines had absolutely no idea what was going on.

Naturally, their enthusiasm shrank.

But a pseudo-intellectual who stuck around longer than most informed Diane she suffered from an acute malady of the times, called her a casualty of modernity, suggested her father had abused her.

The man understood nothing.

“It’s because my mother died in a car accident when I was two months old,” she explained, “and my father only had three pictures of their life together. One from their first Christmas, one from their wedding, and one from the day I was born. He couldn’t forgive the forgetting.”

“And he still does this to you?”

“He drank too much when I wasn’t around. He forgot to take his pictures.”

“Do you have them? All of them?”

Diane nodded.

“They must fill a storage unit.”

“They’re digital.”

“Do you look at them?”

“Forgetting’s necessary. I’m not like my father.”

“Then the cameras make even less sense.”

“Are you obsessed with sense?”

The pseudo-intellectual took a deep breath. “Not that I know of.”

“Then why mention it?”

“Because the woman who forgets her past is doomed to repeat it.”

“I’m not afraid of repetition.”

“You should be.”

“You’re missing the point.”

“Humor me,” the offended pseudo-intellectual said. “What is the point?”

“Without a lens on me, I don’t feel loved.”

“But—”

“I don’t even feel alive.”

The pseudo-intellectual disappeared, but the cameras kept multiplying while Diane’s father’s spirit — his deranged and sincere need to record and remember every act, every moment, every emotion — EVERY LAST EVERYTHING — drove the world in tenth gear.

It was like Diane had found heaven on earth, loved every day, stimulated every second, by thousands upon billions of lenses. No escape.

None wanted.


Kevin Tosca lives in Berlin and can be found at kevintosca.com.