Wednesday, June 16, 2010

one-eyed Lilly (camera)

we would find her in oddest places, camera stuck to her face, as if she had been born with it instead of a nose and eyes. every where we went, we'd see her; in the play ground, at the super market, standing outside the chain link fence at the school, even under the overpass of the interstate that led out of town. we called her one-eyed Lilly, because she viewed the world through that long telephoto lens, twisting it round and round to bring everything into focus.

Mrs. Lilly lived somewhere in the the three block radius of our neighborhood, but no one really knew where. one day we stealthily followed her along the street, her yellow and orange floral sundress and stringy greying hair hard to miss as we darted from tree to tree choking back our giggles. pausing to slip by Mr. Wilson's house, lest he notice us, instead of that cat, we rounded the corner only to find leaves stirring in the summer breeze.

later that afternoon, clinging to the utmost branches of the old oak tree behind johnny's house, defending it from invading Mongol hordes, we watched her reappear from behind a neighbors house, camera firmly ensconced on her face. panning in each direction, she turned to walk down the sidewalk, by where we were playing.

eric wondered aloud if she worked for the guv'ment as a secret agent sent to spy on us, maybe in cahoots with our parents to make sure we was acting right. snorting his indifference, johnny said he read in a book, at the library, that some people believed that when you had your picture taken, it could steal your soul.

slowly, as if she had heard, Lilly turned her head, training that one eye on us and i swear it blinked, sending a shiver down our spines. not a one of us breathed as she chirruped click-whir, click-whir...sending secret messages or small bits of us off to some unknown place with each press of the button.

we never tried to follow Mrs. Lilly again, though many times we hid, afraid that she was following us...or that she might take a little more...

click-whir...click-whir...click-whir....

This is a Theme Thursday post.

102 comments:

Bonnie said...

Brian! I've asked you not to publish stories about me on your blog. Really!!

The Bug said...

No Bonnie - it was about me! Well, me and my husband. I've been participating in a project to take a picture a day & post them (I do mine weekly) so we're out & about with a camera all the time. It's funny - the other day the neighbor came over & asked if we were photopraphers & could we take pictures of their children!

Heartspell said...

I've heard that one about a picture stealing your soul...nah...I think it's something else..maybe it's in the water:) Loved the post. Thanks for sharing. Heartspell

TechnoBabe said...

Fun story, you just never know about those cameras!

Tom said...

great one, Bri...i can feel this one, and the hair raising on the back of my neck!

5thsister said...

click, whir...shivers! Loved it!

Goofball said...

hmm what would be her flickr account?

Monkey Man said...

Fun and yet scary all at once. Great story, sir.

TALON said...

Another layered piece, Brian. Is the perception of one-eyed Lilly (great nickname) as someone a bit sinister in the children's imaginations? Or is she simply a photobug or is she crazy? I like having things to mull over when I read a short story. I loved it!

drybottomgirl said...

I see a little "Jem, Scout, Dill and Boo Radley" in this. Somedays I so wish I had the imagination of a child that you have so easily captured..........

Cheryl said...

It's true. Native Americans and other cultures do believe that a photo will take away your soul. That's why I usually stick with snaps of flowers, sunrises, sunsets, full moons, bugs, and birds. I'd hate to be the one who created a zombie.

morganna said...

Definitely creepy. Makes me want to know more about her.

Tina said...

Very vivid. You had me creeped out there, Brian. Your description of her taking their picture was especially chilling and oh so well done. Keep 'em coming!

Tabor said...

I guess there are a few of us out here in the blogdom that think perhaps you have discovered our little crazy behavior. when I lived overseas there was a very interesting tribe that I wanted so much to photograph...but they did think it would still their soul!

Betsy said...

Maybe she was really looking for Mr. Wilson! :)

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I've heard the soul stealing concept before, makes you wonder...

well told Brian!

soundoffreedom said...

somebody is always watching! Great story shuttering in a lot of memories!

william said...

THE CAMERA NEVER LIES MATE, ANOTHER SUPERB WRITE :) I WILL NO LONGER BE TAKING PART IN ANY MEMES FRIEND, WORKLOAD IS HECTIC AND TIME IS PRECIOUS I HOPE U STILL CONTINUE TO VISIT ME AS I WILL U :)

Paul C said...

Let's hope she's not a blogger posting those photos for the whole wide world to see.

Titanium said...

Careful, them camera lenses will steal yer soul... *snort*

Eva Gallant said...

Great one! Love the descriptions.

PattiKen said...

You know, as they used to say, "50 million Frenchmen can't be wrong." If so many people think the camera can steal your soul, well, maybe...

(click-whir, click-whir)

slommler said...

Totally creepy! And I loved it. She is a terrific character but wouldn't stand out without the kids. Very cool!!
Hugs
SueAnn

Sam Liu said...

So haunting, Brian...You have an excellent ability to craft the most wonderful characters and steadily build your plot, the suspense growing with every word. I loved the idea of a camera flash removing a part of your soul - it truly is a fascinating concept. As always, a brilliantly written post :)

lovetheloop said...

so visual.. everyone has some poignant old face from their childhood that they never forget, like this

JeffScape said...

Hah. Too bad you couldn't get those pictures!

Emmanuel Ibok said...

Interesting and humorous...I liked and enjoyed the childhood perspective of the story. Great work as usual. Cheers.

buttercup600 said...

I so enjoyed your writing:) Will be back for more x

Ocean Girl said...

click-whir...click-whir...click-whir....

Scary.

Adam said...

my favorite aspects of this piece were the dialect shift when the characters began speculating, in addition to the photography-like descriptions. Awesome

finallygettingtoeven.com said...

What a wonderful story, thanks!
Looking forward to working my way around your blog.

Kay said...

funny thing is, if she put the camera down, at once, she might for the first time really see...

that you were good kids afterall...

click.

lakeviewer said...

Ah, Ms Lilly might still be around, just to see what you've been up to.

Felicitas said...

What an awesome little story! The quirky characters you create are always fantastic - I can visualize Mrs. Lilly so clearly. And the dialogue between the boys is precious - a reminder of our own innocence lost.

Bernie said...

Great story.....kind of scary but it is good......:-) Hugs

gayle said...

I love the way you have captured how kids think......it brings back memories when I was a young child and we thought that a witch live in our neighborhood.

Brian Miller said...

haha. how did you know bonnie...smiles.

Caty said...

The imagination of little kids...I remember those days! some good childhood stories :) Great post!

Maggie said...

Now, that is interesting! I am a very curious person. I would have continued following her to try and find out more. lol

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

I popped on over here from Jen Chandler's place...and I'm so glad I did. I like your way with words. I'll be back again for more, and soon!

Kat_RN said...

Fun combination of ideas. Change it to a digital and it could be me, click, click.
Kat

Tracy said...

You sure lived in an interesting neighborhood. :-) I like the name you gave her.

Ronda Laveen said...

I just saw her the other day in her yellow and orange dress, hair flying in the wind, camera at her eye.

Some things never die.

kkrige said...

Oh, a continuation or at least link to a previous story! How exciting. What's that noise? Clik-whir, clik-whir

er, gotta go. nice tale!

Jill said...

How cool is Ms. Lilly!?? I love her intrigue!

Magpie said...

You make pictures with your words...so does that make you a camera...and if so, are you stealing little pieces of our souls when we read your wonderful words? :)

MEENA said...

The story telling is fantastic.It keeps us in total suspense.

steveroni said...

click-whir...click-whir...I keep hearing this. And I am alone here!
Excellent story, Brian.

--single-eyed-a-roni.

Eternally Distracted said...

I'm glad I read this in the morning and not just before bed! I'm a wimp like that ;0)

VE said...

Imagine how many photos she has by now!

anthonynorth said...

Ah, those scary thoughts we have as kids.
Great recollection.

Just Be Real said...

Needed to smile and enjoy a great post this morning Brian. Thank you for delivering. Blessings to you dear.

Zuzana said...

I am smiling as I am starting to feel I resemble your Mrs. Lilly, hehe. I am on my way of becoming that weird older woman running around with her camera, scaring the kids. Even the name is right, as I go by the name Lilly too.;)
Great read Brian, thoroughly enjoyed this one,
xo

Lorraine said...

Excellent, I'm just glad I don't scare children away, as they usually come and see the photos I've taken of them lol

A Daft Scots Lass said...

Eeerie and intruiging.

Love your stuff.

Mr. Stupid said...

This was great. Creepy and fun to read. The Camera takes away your soul? I better stay clear!
Toodles...

Beth said...

Hahaha! I haven't started stalking people yet... but I have plans to do so. :)

Nessa said...

Now I know why my house is haunted.

Bing (PinkLady) said...

creepy mrs. lilly! nice one, brian =)

Jennifer said...

Wonderful little character study! I think she has a beautiful photos, and is gifted at seeing everything in the neighbourhood but unable to connect personally with anyone. We're so inclined to think people like her are creepy...

JStar said...

Great story Brian...Its a lil creepy to a child I am sure...

Vicki Lane said...

A touch of Ray Bradbury in this piece -- very nice!!

Susan said...

I love her name.A nice little story.

Jingle said...

Fascinating childhood adventures,
Despite that fact that Mrs. lily is mysterious and creepy, you have left room for her character potential...

Glad 2 know that some friends here have found common ground in Mrs. Lily.. .

Fabulous Theme Post,
Animated Description!

Ms. Gibson said...

Brian,
I think there's a Mrs. Lilly in every child's neighborhood...

She Writes said...

I liked the blink!

Mighty M said...

Yep, the guv'ment was definitely involved. :)

sheila said...

Creepy! lol. Wasn't there a twilight zone episode about camera's steeling souls? That is totally freaky!

AmyLK said...

the freedom and innocence of the kids in this story. I hope she didn't steal that along with their souls. Love the story, Brian.

Valerie said...

There was a weird woman in my childhood. We were scared of her but still did daring things to reap her wrath. Wish I could describe it as well as you did with Mrs Lilly.

Anonymous said...

Yet another great piece....really Brian...submit your talents to a magazine....we continue to love your work!
~Trisha

Jessie said...

great story!

Lori said...

Wouldn't you love to see those pictures now? I love reading the memories of your childhood...another great read today. Thanks. :)

Mama Zen said...

This so perfectly captures the way children think!

Life with Kaishon said...

Wow. This is so good.
Click Whir Click.

Gretchen said...

Gosh, I can totally remember being creeped out by people like that as a kid. Chilling feeling!

Meeko Fabulous said...

Reminds me of me in high school. I was yearbook photographer. LoL

Jen Chandler said...

That's awesome. I love your stories about "the old neighborhood". One-eyed Lilly. You certainly were surrounded by characters :)

AngelMay said...

Way cool, Brian! I like mysterious ladies. Especially when they are well-written and come to life. :)

buffalodick said...

I'm a great one for taking a camera along, and then not take photos!

Lynn said...

this is great! I have a big smile on my face! Sometimes i find myself in the "creepy camera girl" role! :-)

Lynn said...

this is great! I have a big smile on my face! Sometimes i find myself in the "creepy camera girl" role! :-)

Ed Pilolla said...

the eye of the camera has a power to it. a modern world phenomena.

Birdie said...

great story Brian, smile on my face reading that ... have a beautiful day!

Leeuna said...

What a great story, Brian. I loved it. Kinda creepy and real. Good take on the word "camera".

Syd said...

I think that she was CIA and spying on you guys.

Crazyasa said...

A very nosy neighbor that Miss Lily is. It was a very descriptive story.

blueviolet said...

She scares me a little bit!

Mariane said...

It's been one year since I've read one of your story. And this one, well, let me just say, I'm going to print it and put it in my book of favorites.

Daniel said...

Freakin' creepy dude! Keep her away from me.

The Retired One said...

OMG, Brian...I am the 2010 Ms.Lily!!!! I wonder if I scare little kids this bad??? I know I probably scare the animals and birds that bad, for sure. ha

Pat said...

Interesting story.

I always feel that my camera makes me bolder, gives me free reign, is my ticket "in" somewhere.

When I was a teenager walking down the road with some friends, I was swinging a Polaroid camera from my hand. There was no film in it, but I was pretending to take pictures of people driving by. One man, who was a passenger in a car, threw his hands up to block his face. He was so angry at me, jumped out of the car and started chasing us! We ran and hid by some houses. I always wondered if he was wanted by the police or something!

jake said...

Brian, you're a great story-teller. I remember thinking similar things as a child- It was great fun!

C.M. Jackson said...

love how you capture the mischief of children and their views of adults--great work!

Baino said...

Aww just call me Miss Lilly, even my kids are sick of having a camera shoved in their face! I've stolen a few souls with the old Cannon.

Subby said...

Heh, heh...never without me camera. Ya just never know what will "develope" when you go for a walk-about with one ;)

joycefied said...

What a rich character! Sounds like a good coming of age summer story, the kind I would snuggle with the kids on the couch to watch.

In the same vein, I was snapping pics of my kids yesterday at a sad little amusement park yesterday here in Jordan. People stared at me with sad eyes as I snapped away pics of my kids on the slow motion rides that were meant to amuse.

joycefied said...

but wait, i just thought of something. perhaps lilly had no film in that camera. it was just her way of belonging in an outsider kind of way!

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Marla said...

I love the people you write about. So interesting and I can always picture them so easily.

Hilary said...

I'm laughing because I see how so many of your readers had the same thought I did... that you were onto me and my camera. Too funny but I have zoomed in on and clicked when individuals are behaving badly. They stop in a hurry.

Alice Audrey said...

I know some people who really do think you loose a bit of your soul when a picture is taken. Personally, I hate having it done because the pictures always turn up in places that cause problems for me.