Under the red light, her face emerged on the paper like an apparition. The solution swirled as he touched the exposed image with the tongs. He was pleased with it. The way the sunlight reflected off her, giving an air of elegance. Poised, she stood on a grassy verge overlooking the sea, and in that instant, he had captured her beauty.
It had taken him weeks to track her down. Admiring her from afar, he had crept in the shadows of early morning light to avoid detection. If she had sensed him near, he would almost certainly have lost her trust. So he kept to his hiding places, out of sight.
After rinsing the photograph in water and pegging it up to dry, he studied her more closely. Until that moment, he had only been able to fantasise about what it would feel like to be in her presence; to hold her in his sights. Breathing in deeply, he couldn’t bear to take his eyes off her. Her ruby red lipstick drew him in.
In his dark room, the electric fan whirred. As he processed the next photograph, he continued to dream of what it would be like to be her. He admired her friendliness. Observing her closely, he had noticed how synchronised in movement she was – how graceful, as she and her family travelled together. The affection he had captured in his images had been wonderful to witness. The bonding, the kissing – all interactions reaffirming their commitment to one another.
He looked at the red of her beak once more. It reminded him she had been categorised now; classified in the ‘red’ – a bird needing urgent attention. The photograph he held had captured a brief moment in time; the puffin’s voluminous chest puffed out and proud; bold and distinctive. Orange legs launching her accurately from jagged rocks. She was a goddess of the hills, marvelled at for her unique appearance. Her clown like antics and movements entertaining the world.
In the photograph, she remained silent. But he would give her a voice; he would use the image to save her, bringing the world’s attention to her desperate plight.
Originally from the West Midlands, but now living in Northampton, Emma is an English teacher and aspiring flash fiction and short story writer. In 2016, she co-founded a writing group in her local area and has recently got involved with The Word Factory as a Social Media Associate.