Long expose to follow the song's premise. But I kinda like this one.
I didn't know who took the picture, Bethany said she got it from the yearbook office, but I was rather fond of it. Most of the pictures of me and Danielle as a couple were posed; be it in prom attire or jeans and t-shirts, we were facing the camera and smiling.
This one though was nothing like that. I wouldn't have been surprised if the photographer was trying to taking a photo of something else, and a mistake in timing had resulted in what Bethany showed me.
It was simple, me and Danielle walking down the school hallway on the way to our lockers before class started. Our hands were around eachother's waists, the sole reason I had foregone a traditional backpack for a messenger bag.
“I want to use it for my senior art project,” Bethany said. “I'm doing colored silhouettes of students and teachers on the wall outside the gym. Would it be okay if I use this pose of you and Danielle?”
“Sure,” I said, strangely honored by the request. Bethany and I had the odd scheduling mystery of sharing every math class since 7th grade, but we had never been close. It was kinda cool to know that she had chosen me and my girlfriend to be immortalized on the school walls.
Danielle was excited when I told her about Bethany's project.
“That's awesome Chad! We make such a cute couple, it's destined for art.”
She was so thrilled we changed our route entering and leaving school to go past the wall and watch Bethany's progress. It was slow going. First she projected the images of all the silhouettes she wanted to paint, ten people in all, and traced them with pencil. And then went over the pencil lines with paint using a thin brush – green for guys and red for girls to match the school colors. Then came the long process of filling in the outlines.
Painting required a lot more space than I anticipated, especially in the beginning where Bethany had to use the projector. She couldn't work during high traffic periods: before the first bell, between classes, and fifteen minutes after the dismissal bell. During her art period she worked a little on the images, but most of her work was during after school hours. Danielle and I saw the greatest amount of difference between viewings after school one day and the morning of the next.
Our silhouette was towards the end of the wall, and Danielle and I had an ice cream bet as to when Bethany would start on filling in our outlines. She guessed just before Halloween, while I chose Thanksgiving, but finals were the next week and we still hadn't seen a stoke in the center of our silhouettes.
“What gives?” I asked Bethany in math during a review session. “You lost me a free ice cream.”
“Sorry, you'll just have to wait till after Christmas break. It's no easy thing to do you know, and I have to study for all my finials.”
Maybe Bethany didn't get any cool gifts to play with, or her family was just so annoying she had to get away, but the first day back at school the silhouettes were finished. Not just the ones leading up to me and Danielle, but the pair afterwords as well, a teacher chastising a student. The wall was finished.
Danielle squealed and took pictures with her phone, both of the silhouettes and then us standing in the same position on the wall. It was pretty cool to see the final picture, seeing Danielle and I on the wall. The different gender colors made it easy to see my hand around her waist, her head leaning just a bit on my shoulder. I felt a little prideful, thought I couldn't explain why. Not like it was my work.
I congratulated Bethany in class that day and felt satisfied at her blush.
Now, I have pictures of the pair of us all over my cellar shelter. Some of my parents too of course. They never came home after that train wreck releasing chemicals into the air. In the panic that followed, they most likely died.
The power is out, I can't charge my phone, so I haven't heard from Danielle in two weeks. My hand-crank radio still spills out instructions to not go out, and no matter how much I think 'fuck it' and head to the door to drive to her house, I pause at the windows.
There is no activity outside, but plenty of carnage. The chemicals had caused people to hallucinate their fears and people had turned on each other. There is an over turned SUV in my front yard and the swollen dead body of a hanged child in a tree down the street. The hallucinogen was still in the air. Would I make it to Danielle's house? And if I did, would I hurt her?
The last though always makes me go back to the basement. To wait for a rescue I'm pretty sure isn't coming.
Despite the pictures of her, I can't help but think back to Bethany's silhouettes. These picture will fade eventually, but that paint won't. They might burn the town to purify the area, the news said it was an option, once they knew everyone was dead, and that image of the two of us standing in her living room before homecoming sophomore year will curl and smoke and turn to ash. But I'm pretty sure the school and it's painted walls will remain.
That's all that will be left of us, those silhouettes. At least it's something.