Written for writing competition - Composed to relate to picture for contest
I found these letters with this photo, could this be true?
Dear Mr. William Thompson,
First, let me congratulate you on the well deserved recognition for your photography work. As an amateur photographer myself, I know firsthand how difficult it is to be successful in capturing great imagery. I am not sure if you recall, but we met briefly at the Paris convention in 2007.
In fact, it was at that time you shot this photograph (enclosed copy). I was there when you shot this picture, I recall seeing you setting up in the passageway presumably to catch one of your usual celebrity targets. In fact, in the background of the photo you will see me walking with my daughter Annie. I am writing to see if you have a recollection of what you saw when you made this picture.
Do you know the name of the young woman in the foreground? I would be surprised if you did, because as I recall, I did not see her there when we walked past you. But, if you notice in the photograph, I had turned my head and looked in your direction, and I am certain that she was not sitting on the bench as seen in your photograph. However, for the brief millisecond that your shutter was open I would swear that I saw her, and then she was gone.
I am eager to know your thoughts on this. I had dismissed it at the time, but since the publishing of your photograph, the memory of that moment has occupied my every waking thought. I have studied the photograph, marveled at the tone, mood, and art. Yet considering the circumstances, I can’t help but think, it was accomplished mostly by accident. I don’t want to detract from your talent or the effort required creating great work, and this photograph has all the qualities to qualify as great. But do tell me please any details you can recall.
Best Regards, Jim Stone
Dear Mr. Stone,
Thank you for your kind words regarding my work. I do recall meeting you at the Paris convention. Correct me if I am wrong, but you were marketing your image processing software.
As for the photograph, first you were correct in that I was there setting up for a chance to get yet another ‘celebrity’ shot. Unfortunately, for me, my hot tip was a bust. But I do recall several details of the shot and mostly the eerie feeling I had while I was there.
The shot itself is a total accident, but first, you were correct that the girl in the foreground was not there, so I have no idea who she is. But I do recall you walking by; in fact, I distinctly recall hearing “Annie” as if someone next to me whispered it. Looking up I spotted you with your daughter, don’t be offended but I didn’t recognize you, I did take note of your daughter, as you walked by her eyes were fixed on the bench next to me and she was smiling happily as if great joy filled her heart. I remember it clearly, because I was thinking of what a great picture it would be. I couldn’t get my camera ready in time, it was only a brief moment before she turned and walked away with you.
As you walked away, I continued my preparations to get my celebrity picture, in the process I had turned in your direction and while I was fixing my f stop, I accidently clicked a picture. Usually this would have aggravated me to no end, the high cost of film and processing necessitates being careful. This time I did not think of it, because for that brief moment while the shutter was open, I saw her sitting on the bench. Maybe because my life is focused on those milliseconds of time, I have a knack for taking those mental pictures. This one remains, because as you say, she was only there for that brief moment.
I can only add that when I processed the film, the picture matches perfectly what I saw and felt for that brief moment I saw her there. There is a great depth of happiness, sadness, and love represented by the woman sitting on the bench. Her connection to our world is real, even if she is not. I would ask two things if you please. First, I would prefer to not intrude upon the photograph with disclosure of the details surrounding it, it will stand on the merit of its on existence without embellishment, so please don’t tell anyone of my ‘accident’. Second, I feel a great connection to the young woman, and I can’t help but feel you know more about her, please share with me what you know.
Sincerely, Bill Thompson
Thank you so much for your honest reply; it confirms what I already knew to be true. Your ‘accident’ is much closer to destiny than chance, for it was a moment of time when the veil of truth lifted for our eyes to see the transient nature of this world and the next. I do indeed know more of the young woman, and if you’ll indulge my inept discourse, I’ll introduce you to her. Let me ask in advance please excuse the sordid details of her story, I could leave them out, but then would you really know her at all.
I first met Sheri in the fall of 1974; she was married and had three children. By the time, I saw her again in 1979; a tragic fire had claimed the lives of her children and destroyed her marriage. As I would soon learn, the loss had wounded her deeply, leaving emotional scars that remained for the rest of her life.
By 1980, I was working in the local music scene; I frequented the clubs and followed closely all of the local bands. I saw Sheri regularly at these clubs, she loved to party and she loved the attention of the many men she easily attracted. She was not merely beautiful; she was spectacular when compared to most of the pretty girls around her. She was just tall enough to rise just above petite; her body was thin yet full with curves above and below her waist. To describe her as sensuous would be an understatement. She carried herself majestically, never bowing her head in submission nor moving clumsily to belie her air of confidence. With sharp features on her face framed by the elegant soft black hair that hung to just below her shoulders, she was striking to behold.
She never failed to turn the heads of every man and woman in the place when she entered a room, while the men’s thoughts turned to spooning with her, the women would invariably cast their eyes downward in defeat. It was her eyes that defeated all, shining bright blue jewels with hints of violet when the light was just right. But more than the color was the emotional depth; from across the room her bright eyes and warm smile would captivate and entice all to join the fun. From a short distance, her eyes would flash and sparkle, demanding your attention, drawing closer her eyes showed her love for all, she genuinely cared for everyone always putting others before herself. It wasn’t until you got close that you could see even a hint of the turmoil and sadness within her. For most, it was missed, for some the truth scared them away, for me, I wished only that there was some way I could relieve her pain.
To look upon her was a thrill for me, while other women could capture my gaze, only Sheri could capture my heart with just one look. I held no hope for me, as I am ordinary, certainly not of the caliber that a woman like Sheri deserved. So from the sidelines I watched as Sheri’s hedonic life masked her masochistic need. Actually, to some extent I was involved, on many occasions I was the one to pull her from the brink of disaster, enabling her to recover and plunge again into the darkness she sought.
Sheri and her friends would party excessively, large amounts of alcohol on top of cocaine and methamphetamine resulted in bizarre behavior on many occasions. For the most part Sheri had a high tolerance to the drinking and drugs, she rarely seemed intoxicated even when most of her group passed out or was very close, Sheri would still appear able to function. But at these times, she would dive deep into the abyss of masochism, often seeking and finding sexual partners that would treat her horribly. Since this occurred most every Friday and Saturday night and continued for years, there is no way to detail the wide range of partners and activities. Mostly she simply found some guy in a band, went home with him, and of course had sex with him. She had a habit of calling me on the morning after when she needed a ride; for the most part, she would be back to her cheerful self ready to party all over again. But there was always a look of sadness, I had to look deep into her eyes to see it and she would always turn away when she saw me looking for it. That did not matter, I knew in my heart it was there, over time I just felt it whenever I was around her. On some mornings she would be severely depressed, looking closely I would see that she would have bruises and abrasions from rough handling. Or she would be filthy and the odor of sex and urine was evident, more than her perfume could mask. Rarely would she talk to me of what happened, but when she did, I would find out that she had been beaten, raped, and sodomized by multiple men. She would shiver and cry while she told me these things, but I knew she craved this treatment and she would return for more. This went on for ten years or more.
In 1991, a couple weeks into January I was at a club to see a new band. Sheri was there, but all of her friends were at a different club to see one of our old favorite bands. I had plans to go there, but seeing Sheri at Flipper’s I decided to stay awhile. The band was great and there was a large crowd of rock fans that kept the energy level very high, that and there was a lot of cocaine going around. I had two guys I didn’t know at all offer me lines or ask if I wanted to buy an eight ball. I was past that point in my life so I politely declined. I noticed that Sheri was going full speed, surrounded by a half a dozen biker types. I knew this was trouble so I decided to stay. Around 1 am I noticed Sheri was gone, thinking she might have left to go see our other friends I didn’t bother to find her. Just before 2 am the band finished their last song and I headed to the door when I overheard a guy, talking about a drunk chick passed out in the men’s bathroom. This sounded every alarm possible; I wheeled around and headed for the bathroom.
At first, I didn’t see her, and then I heard a moan coming from the last stall, I opened the door to see Sheri stuffed into the toilet. She had white powder under her nose, face covered in cum and pee, her lip was busted and bleeding slightly, and she had big abrasions on each cheek. Her clothes piled in the corner were too soiled to put her into them. I checked her breathing and her pulse was strong, she was white as a ghost and could not respond to my voice. I quickly wrapped her in my coat and carried her out of the bathroom. On the way to the door, a bunch of the biker types pointed and laughed, slapping each other’s backs and giving high fives. I felt sick inside; knowing they could be so cruel and nasty eroded my faith in humanity. I put Sheri in my car and headed for the hospital, I was in a panic, the thought of losing her made me cry.
Half way there, Sheri woke up; she threw up violently and slumped over the console until her head rested on my shoulder. “Please take me home” she moaned. “I’m taking you to the hospital” I explained. She jumped up screaming “NO NO NO” and cried loudly that she would rather die. She passed out with a loud thud as her head banged the car door glass. She lived across town, thinking I needed to tend to her quickly that was too far to go. Knowing she would hate me if I took her to the hospital, I turned off at the exit to my house. At my house, I quickly carried her inside and started a warm bath for her.
Sheri had completely passed out; worried that she might drown I decided to get in the tub with her. I bathed her from head to toe, gave her a douche and enema, then toweled her dry and dressed her in a pair of my cotton boxers and a long sleeve dress shirt. She remained oblivious to it all, I even managed to brush her teeth, comb out her hair, and disinfect a few cuts and scratches. I put her in my bed and watched her sleep, checking her every few minutes for signs that her drug overdose was getting worse. By morning she was resting comfortably, her skin color had returned to normal from the deathly pale white that had scared me so bad last night.
I went out and napped on my sofa for a couple hours until my alarm went off and I got up to fix us some breakfast. By the time, I had breakfast ready; Sheri was up and strolled into my kitchen. I watched her yawn and stretch, marveling at how sexy she looked in my shirt and boxers. Sheri looked at me then cast her eyes to the floor, I knew she was expecting me to chastise her, but to tell the truth I was so glad she was all right all I wanted was to hug her like a long lost child. I simply told her to sit and have some breakfast, and then I watched as she sipped some coffee and nibbled at a piece of toast. When she stood from the table she wobbled and looked pale again, I grabbed her and put her back in bed telling her to rest some more.
She slept until 7pm that night. I fixed her some soup and suggested that she could stay again tonight and I could take her home in the morning. This suited her and we settled down on the sofa to watch a bit of TV. When she realized it was Saturday night, she jumped up and started pacing the floor, “I’m supposed to go to Flipper’s and Gator’s tonight”. I couldn’t believe that she wanted to go and party, hell she was barely alive after last night. I pulled her close, looking into her beautiful blue eyes, speaking as softly as I possibly could I begged “Please just stay here with me tonight, please”. At first, she looked puzzled by my request, and then with a warm smile she kissed me on the lips and said “Of course I’ll stay with you”.
To this day I’m not sure if my intent to keep her safe confused her or maybe she really understood all of how I felt and really wanted an opportunity to be with me. All I am sure of is that she stayed with me, just the two of us, alone at my house on a Saturday night. For most, this would be no big deal, but for a day in Sheri’s life, this was history. The significance of this moment only now becomes evident, knowing what has happened and looking back.
I will tell you that I slept with Sheri in my bed that night and yes, we had sex. For me it was both the happiest and saddest I had ever been. My heart filled with great joy, just to be near her was heavenly, to make love to her was beyond description. Yet, my heart ached knowing soon she would be gone and not return. I am not sure, but I think she felt much of the same, our tender lovemaking satisfied her much more than the frenzied masochism she often indulged in, but we both knew she would soon abandon our love to seek her own destruction. There was at least a brief moment after we finished that she glowed like a polished jewel, cooing softly in my ear her declaration of love for me. I simply replied “Sheri I have always loved you and I always will”.
The next day I took her home and did not speak to her again, ever! During the next several months, I avoided the places she would go, unsure that I could handle seeing her without crying. I wanted to see her, I wanted to be with her, but I knew that I couldn’t watch her be with anyone else. Besides, if she really wanted to be with me all she had to do was ask, and she never called again to ask me to pick her up on a morning after.
At the end of that year in December at 2:15 on a Sunday morning I got a call, the woman’s voice sounded familiar, she was drunk and drugged and crying “Annie is your daughter” is all she said before the phone went dead. In my heart, I knew it was Sheri, I got dressed to go look for her, then a cold chill enveloped me, I sank to the floor and cried knowing in my heart that I was already too late.
The next afternoon a police detective knocked on my door. He questioned me at length about Sheri and then asked about the call. I told him what I knew, but it wasn’t much. I asked him about Sheri; “Sheri was found dead of a drug overdose in the men’s room at a club called Flipper’s” he replied, your number was the last call made on her cell phone. I told him that I got the call, but just thought it was a wrong number.
At Sheri’s funeral I asked her sister about Annie, I found out then that Sheri had left a newborn daughter that Sheri’s mom was taking care of. I would have not thought to ask who the father was, but Sheri’s last words haunted me, I had to know. I hired a lawyer and after some checking discovered Sheri listed me as the father on Annie’s birth certificate. It took me a year in court, but after DNA testing proved I was her father, the court awarded custody of Annie to me.
So the girl in the photo is Sheri, my daughter Annie’s mother who died 16 years before you took the picture. You might think that this is the end of my story, but there is more to tell. By the time Annie was five, she started asking about her mother. Among the questions she asked was “Is mommy and Angel?” Of course, I told Annie the truth, in my mind she was an angel, I had always thought so. Later she would ask me if her mommy was a real angel. This got to be quite a bit tricky, I wanted to tell her the truth as I knew it, but she was determined to work past the symbolic meaning of an angel and force me to say that her mommy was a real angel. I did the best I could to not tell her there were no real angels.
Shortly after Annie turned six she came to my bed one night, as she crawled under the covers, she told me “Mommy told me to come and sleep with you”. This happened every night for a week. When I questioned her about it she told me that her mommy was always around her, only she could see her and hear her. I chalked it up to the active imagination of a young girl that missed having her mother.
A week later as we snuggled under the blanket, she reached into my pajamas and grabbed my cock. Before I could tell her to let go, she said “Mommy wants me to make you feel good” she started rubbing my shaft gently in her hand. It had been years since I had any non solo activity, I can’t describe how good it felt to be touched again.
I let her continue, she happily stroked me until I released cum all over her tiny hand. As I lay there, I watched as she turned towards the empty chair next to the bed as if she was listening, then after a slight nod of her head she licked my cum from her hand and then the strings of white sticky juice on my abdomen. She finished by licking the head of my cock and with a smile she asked “Did I make you feel good Daddy?” I told her that she did great, I felt wonderful. I asked her where she ever got the idea to do that. She pointed at the empty chair and said “Mommy told me what to do”.
Over time, I realized that Sheri was always there, always watching over Annie. I was surprised at how quickly hand jobs escalated to blow jobs, within a month Annie and I would kiss, lick, and suck each other every night. I loved to lick her little bald pussy, she would wiggle her hips gently up and down against my tongue, her juice would wet my lips and she tasted sweeter than wine. By the time she was ten, her body would shudder vigorously with orgasms when I pushed my tongue against her hymen. She would suck my cock until I came in her mouth then she would kiss me with her mouth full of salty sperm. I absolutely loved it.
She would always tell me that her Mommy loved watching us, often telling her new things to do. I became quite comfortable at the idea of Sheri being there, and on occasion, I would look towards the chair and quietly tell Sheri I loved her. One night when I did that, Annie stopped and looked concerned, I asked her what was wrong and she said Mommy is crying. A moment later Annie nodded then told me it’s OK, and Mommy loves you too.
By the time Annie turned twelve we were having full intercourse. The pleasure of sex with a young pre teen girl is beyond description. Annie’s tight young body was just beginning to develop her womanly features. Her youthful enthusiasm devoid of any societal concepts for good or bad enabled us to explore our love for each other without limits. It was so natural that I lost connection to the idea that a grown man and a young girl or a father and daughter should not be together. Annie felt the same; she loved me as her father and as her lover, she was always eager to please me. Her appetite for sex was equal to her mother’s; fortunately, her life so far was unburdened with tragedy, so her desires were healthy, not destructive.
On the day you photographed us we had just learned that Annie was pregnant with my child. We were making plans to marry and looking forward to our future together. Unfortunately, when we returned to the states her grandmother learned of her pregnancy. After a brief investigation, they convicted me of statutory rape and sentenced me to five years in prison. Annie gave birth to my daughter Sherry Ann, next month when I get release from prison we will be together again. She is twenty now, so her grandmother will not be able to interfere again.
I must tell you that your photograph is the key to our future happiness. Had I not seen Sheri that day and in your picture, I would never be able to resume my life with Annie. The emotional toll of prosecution and conviction for raping my own child had overwhelmed me. For the first time in my life, I began to understand the guilt and sadness that burdened Sheri for so long. I had moments where I longed for death to relive the pain of shame for what I had done.
Then I saw your photograph, I remembered seeing Sheri sitting there for the briefest of moments, and finally I felt peace. After all the judgments of my peers had passed, I found refuge in the knowledge that Annie’s guardian angel was real, and those judgments rendered mute. It was Sheri’s sweet gentle hand that made father and daughter lovers. Your photograph is evidence of the miracle of love, the power to transcend time and space. Without that evidence, I could not go on. Thus, I believe the evidence is yet another miracle; the first is the miracle of Annie’s angel who filled a young child’s heart with love for me. The last miracle is the angel in your picture, who even now reaches out to comfort me, guide me, and release me from a prison of guilt.
Sincerely, Jim Stone