“I still don’t know how to use the darn thing,” Helen said over her cup of soup at Bob’s Big Boy after church. She stared at Agnes before continuing. “Ed down at the A&P, he gave it to me right when I walked in the door, he says, ‘Helen, the raffle, you won!’ He yelled it at me so I about had a heart attack.”
The only other thing she had ever won was an award for best cursive in the fourth grade. Her pies never placed in the church bake off, but Luke had always gobbled them up. His favorite was rhubarb.
After splitting a butterscotch sundae, they drove towards Helen’s house. “What am I going to take pictures of? Gary’s been dead four years now. Luke he’s off wandering round somewhere. I haven’t owned a camera since he was a boy. I can take pictures of you Agnes, how about it!”
Agnes chuckled, then cracked the window to let in some frosty air and asked, “Have you heard from him recently?”
“Not for a couple months. But I have the address of the school he’s working at in Peru.”
“Peru? Like South America?”
“It’s summer down there now, I guess he’ll be traveling around. Hey how about you come in for some TV? They’re showing an ‘I Love Lucy’ marathon.”
“I don’t know hon, Pete’s gonna be waiting for me and you know how he gets.”
“Okay. Well will you at least come in for a sec and help me with that contraption? I have the film and everything. I don’t want to break it.”
Inside the house, Agnes smiled at the Christmas decorations spilling from the table onto the living room floor, the photos of Gary in his Navy uniform and Luke as a boy in his cowboy hat. She stood and gazed at the portrait of Luke after he’d gotten out of the Army, painted by a friend. Something in his look always stopped Agnes short.
It only took a few minutes to show Helen how to load the Polaroid, and she seemed pleased, so Agnes offered to take her picture.
“Sure, let me just take off my glasses.”
“No leave them on, Helen. You stand over there and smile and we’ll send it to Luke. In Peru. And he’ll see you looking at him and he’ll see himself in the photo, too. Maybe that’ll make him come back.”
Story by Adam Dupaski