The Photograph

Published February 17, 2014 by joannabolouri

The photograph in the frame keeps changing.

The photo I put there; the one I found in the thrift shop, with the girl wearing the yellow sun hat, smiling on the swing.  Something isn’t right.

Something is very, very wrong.

It started on Monday.  I looked at the photo as I always do and it took me a moment to realise that something was different. Something was wrong.

It was her yellow hat.

It wasn’t there anymore.

On Tuesday it reappeared but this time it wasn’t yellow. It was red and almost torn in half, clinging to her scalp and hanging down over her smiling face.

On Wednesday her pretty smile changed to a frown and for three nights she frowned at me while I slept. On Saturday her face vanished. The rest of her remained, sitting on the swing but her face was gone.

Just. Gone.

I know what you’re thinking. I did get rid of the picture, I swear. The moment I lifted it out of the black frame, my flesh began to creep like a million invisible icy fingers walking slowly up my back and I put that photo in the trash but by Monday she was back.

Only I didn’t bring her back. She did it all by herself.

I held it tight with my eyes closed. I didn’t want to look at the photo but I did. She had gotten off the swing.

She stood close to the edge of the frame, smiling. But not the pretty smile I’d once known, now it was a grimace, so wide and unsettling that even now as I think of it, I want to scream. In the photo she stood completely still but behind her, I swear that swing swayed back and forth like she’d just that second jumped off to greet me.

Yesterday, Wednesday, the swing was motionless. But she wasn’t there to greet me.

She was gone.

This evening I got into bed and my feet touched something under the covers.  It was the red hat.

I’m frightened. Oh god, I’m frightened.

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