Susan glared into the camera. She hated being photographed. She never came out looking like she felt inside. Of course, with her irritation clearly visible, this time she would.
Maud ventured a tiny smile. Surely she could pull it off this time. Her image burned onto the film at that time was a memoir of her escapade forever more.
Delia acquiesced to sit on the steps with the other young women of the class. She was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to sleep peacefully in a soft bed for days, weeks maybe. She merely hoped that she would remain awake long enough to make it safely home tonight.
Genevieve snatched the hats off two of the boys immediately before the photographer asked them all to please be still for a couple of minutes. One she perched atop her impeccable hairdo, slightly smashing it down. The other she popped atop the head of the perpetually gloomy girl sitting on her right. Millie accepted the hat with resignation. Genevieve rested her elbow on her knee and assumed a combative contemplative pose. Hiram and Eldred attempted to wipe the snarls of irritation from their faces before the art, the magic, the sorcery of photography recorded them there forevermore.
Julia and Frances, ever the sisters of the heart, tilted their heads together at the same moment, and wrapped their arms around the waist of the other. Julia smiled slightly, sweetly as she imagined showing the finished product to her grandmother. Grandmother Rachel did not understand how she could be friends with a Gentile, after all that the family had been through. Perhaps when she saw the transparent love and goodness of
Catherine surreptitiously pulled her hand out of hiding from her voluminous white skirt. The ring that George had placed upon it last evening peeked from its alcove between her skirt and her neighbor’s. By the time the photograph had been processed and distributed, her secret would long be out, but for now, she shared it with the photographer, a thin, harried man who had no idea that she was trusting him with her deepest secret to date.
“Young lady!” the photographer wheedled, “You can’t have that animal on your lap in this photograph.” The young woman slowly ran her hand down the spine of the cat resting comfortably in her lap. She then raised her eyes to challenge the photographer’s assertion. After a short time, he backed down and Sarah’s pet cat, Tom Thumb, was a part of the class photograph forever.
As the photographer harangued her neighbor, Bonny’s arms raised to her hips in a note of challenge to him. At that point, his attention shifted from the nefarious cat to the extensive work on her leg o’ mutton sleeves. “Kindly retain your position, Miss,” the photographer wheedled. Bonny acceded, mostly because she had no idea why in the world he said this and Mr. Hannigan disappeared beneath his dark cover and snapped his photograph.
Waiting patiently in the warm sun, Ruth and Sophia were resigned to missing yet another course of Greek. They muttered to each other through lips pressed as closed as possible while the fussy little photographer uttered useless imprecations to Sarah. Knowing Sarah as they did, they knew that that cat would be on her lap until the Lord came again, so the photography man had better just take his photo and move on. Who would see such a little thing in the mass of humanity that they represented anyway? When Bonny was cajoled to keep her hands on her hips, they knew that the time was here. No more whispers, no more murmuring. Although both girls attempted to keep still so the exposure would be clear, Ruth was unable to control her impatience for enough time. She was here to study, not to take silly photos.
The scene was blurry to Maudine’s eyes. She squinted just a bit to bring the photographer into focus. “Oh no!” she thought, too late. “He’s under the cloth covering!” The photograph captured her forever in the squint of near-sightedness. While her classmates would remember her as a warm and loving friend, she was forever captured by one group photo as looking stern and stiff. It was no consolation to her that Consuela, beside her, suffered the same unjust fate. None of the girls save Hazel wore glasses. And no one wanted to be Hazel.
The photographer came out from under the scratchy woolen cover and announced that he was finished. He handed his business card to the principal, a corpulent, sweating man who had been waiting to his left while the students fussed and fluttered. “The sample photograph will be ready in a week. I will take orders then. The copies are generally a dollar per, if the students or their parents are interested.” The principal nodded, thanked him, and began the process of shooing the students into the building. He did not have to work hard at it, for which he was truly grateful. The warming sun in which picture had been taken for maximum clarity had driven them all back in much more quickly than he could have anticipated. He spared not a glance for the photographer, who was busily putting away his equipment. He walked in the cool but slightly odiferous halls of
Once inside the building, Hiram stopped beside Genevieve and silently held out his hand. Millie hurriedly placed a hat into it and Hiram passed it on to Eldred who took it and walked on to his class in geometry. “Miss Lodge, if I may?” he quietly asked. Genevieve raised one delicate eyebrow, then plucked the object from her mounds of fair hair and dropped it into his hand from about six inches, as if the object as well as Hiram himself were beneath her ability to acknowledge. She turned with a swish of her skirts. Hiram glared toward her retreating form. Genevieve walked, back straight, almost saucily compared to the other girls, particularly long-suffering Millie who looked as though the starch had been removed from her bones long ago. Clapping the hat to his head, Hiram stalked heavily toward the staircase which would transport him to his ancient history class. His figure attracted the attention of Principal Harriman, who whipped the hat from his head and gave him a punishment of five demerits for wearing a hat inside the building. Hiram nodded swiftly, acknowledging the reprimand and silently swearing an oath that would have earned him ten more had it been heard by Mr. Harriman. Now he would have to miss practice this afternoon and do some inane bit of work for the office staff. Genevieve Lodge was a thorn in his side, to be sure.