“Have you ever noticed how as an adult, all the bright colors go out of your life? Now that I’m not a kid anymore, things always look gray, like a clothesline draped with laundry that’s been washed too many times and left to stand in the wind. I guess that’s what growing up is… it’s a fading photograph.”
“Friends are like the stars that glow in the sky... you don't always see them, but you know they're always there overhead, and even when it's cloudy, snowy or stormy, even when the power goes out and you're trapped in darkness, they'll always find a way to shine through to you.”
“You don't understand," Alecto replied vacantly. "It isn't that I want to die... I just don't want to exist.”
“Mandy would much rather have imaginary friends who were real than real friends who were imaginary.”
“People say that a time machine can’t be invented, but they’ve already invented a device that can stop time, cameras are the world’s first time machines.”
“We’re losing society to apathy, to digital technology, the people who care about nobody else but themselves. They share every little detail of their stupid lives online as if the world even gives a damn… digital technology is getting smarter and society is getting dumber,” Mandy whispered in a voice filled with disbelief. “Society is… it’s slipping away.”
“I'll remember you... I remember everyone I've lost.”
“photographs are very interesting, and you can look into them a million times and still find a new meaning in them, something in the past that was caught in the film itself…”
“I guess if there’s one thing I can say about the 21st century, it’s that the 21st century is all flash and no substance… everything is digital, nothing but files of invisible electronic data on computers and mindless zombies on their cellular phones… it’s sad how because of the digital age, society is ultimately doomed. Nothing in the digital age is real anymore, and you know, they say celluloid film and ray tube televisions and maybe even paper might become obsolete in this century? …What’s most annoying is that nobody cares, they’ve just learned to accept the digital age and get addicted to it… none of them are ever going to step up and say to the world, “you’re all a bunch of sheep!” and even if they did say anything, I doubt anyone would listen… they’re all too obsessed and attached to their cellular phones and overly big televisions and whatever other moronic things they’ve got these days… it almost makes me want an apocalypse to happen, to erase digital technology and force the world to start over again.”
“Yeah, you’re right about having entire rooms full of film and photos… in that Sydney Mines house I have a darkroom, I have boxes of film and home movie footage… I have a few projectors, I have piles of Kodachrome slides… I like photographs. The world is always running away from society and the only way to keep the stuff that’s happened in the past is by taking photographs, I can keep memories of things alive with photographs,” Alecto responded. “People say that a time machine can’t be invented, but they’ve already invented a device that can stop time, cameras are the world’s first time machines… The steel mill, the coal mines, the train tracks, the smog in the sky, I’ve been able to rescue it on super-8 and Kodachrome, and no one can remediate those photographs, I can keep them as long as I want to.”
“At last evil and corruption take over,” Mearth laughed icily, her eyes filled with a wild glow. “Someday you’ll become so unstable that you’ll kill anyone you’ve ever cared about in your life, and when that happens I only hope that you leave any outsider witnesses alone as you fade out of the world.” Alecto froze for a moment, completely silent, setting the camera down on the fence and thinking things over. Mandy could see him clearly now that he was on the video, but he looked obscure. “What’s on your corrupted mind, pretty little Sydney Tar Ponds?” Mearth asked, dropping the wire cutters and stepping closer to him.
“I hate you,” he answered icily.
“Oh, no you don’t, you just think you hate me,” Mearth insisted, her voice kind, caring, almost loving. “You didn’t mean to try and kill me, you’ve been worn-out by life, you’ve been alive a very long time, your mind is a storm and your usual insight is gone.” Mandy was inclined to agree with Mearth; he looked like a storm, his eyes had dark shadows under them, he was limping when he walked, he was shivering and coughing and his head was leaning to one side slightly. Nonetheless, he still seemed to be able to reason, because when he noticed Mearth’s falsely cheerful words he glared at her hatefully, smoke trailing from his cigarette. “I’m going to tell Cheryl what you’ve done, all those times you tried to kill me, I’ll tell her and she’ll know what you did,” he threatened.
“No Sydney Tar Ponds, you won’t,” Mearth replied softly, “because if you tell her, I’ll kill her and you’ll have a few more super 8 home videos to add to the collection of celluloid memories.”
“…You wouldn’t,” Alecto exclaimed.
“If you really do love her, if you really care about her and she’s your friend, you’ll stay silent,” Mearth told him. “You think what I’m doing is cruel, sadistic, but it isn’t… you aren’t even a real person, you don’t understand.”
Alecto said nothing back to her.
The television screen faded to black and Mandy just sat there in the darkness, her expression blank.”
“A picture's worth a thousand words. But a single word can make you think of over a thousand pictures in your mind, over a thousand moments, a thousand memories.”
“Alford, Massachusetts: Mandy stood there with her old Nikon film camera, snapping photo after photo of the rural landscape. It was difficult to describe the wonderful feeling of there not being a single cell phone in sight; the only modern technology around was the faint blue glow of a cathode ray tube television in the window of a nearby house, and a few cars and trucks parked in crumbling gravel driveways. She was allowed to see this place, one that would likely be ruined by the 21st century as time went on… places like these were extremely hard to find these days. A world of wood-burning cookstoves and the waxy smell of Paraffin, laundry hung out to dry, rusty steel bridges over streams that reflected the bright blue skies, apple pies left out on windowsills… a world of hard work with very little to show for it aside from the sunlight beaming down on a proud community. And Mandy wanted to trap it all in her Kodak film rolls and rescue it from the future.”
“Film photography will always be superior to digital - because no matter how many lasers and instant buttons and HD pixels you've got, a human being can take a photograph with much more integrity and meaning than one a built-in robot took.”
“In her eyes was the reflection of everything that mattered: old diners with neon signs, vinyl records, celluloid film, drive-in movies, Pears soap, department stores, her brother’s old blue Camaro car and the smell of coal dust in the rainy sky of a summer lightning storm.
…And all the nice bright colors of the past that she thought were gone for good came flowing back into her life like a wave of nostalgia flooding over her, reds, yellows, blues and greens drenching her gray memories in psychedelic ribbons and glittering fireworks.
…She hoped that the world would always hold those miniscule yet beautiful, deep and mysterious traces of memory.”
“This is my home, Cape Breton is my home, and I don’t know if I really want to leave it as much as I might think and I’m sort of scared to leave it all behind, everything I’ve lived with, I have so many memories of all the things I’ve done here and I’m afraid if I leave, I might lose all my memories…”
“…I’m afraid of what the digital age will do to the world, to the things we think are important… it’s almost like people want to believe in some illusion that they’re robots and forget altogether that they’re real, living people… but everything these days is disposable, even people themselves, and that’s why I’m afraid for the world,” Mandy confessed, looking depressed and worried.
“So am I… but I’ll still watch all of it as the world dooms itself, because I want to see how it ends, and whether or not they’ll be intelligent enough to forget all of this digital illusion afterwards,” Alecto explained. “I’m sure that they’ll be able to realize how wrong it all is… even though the idiots outnumber most people these days, there are still enough intelligent people to fight against it.”
“Wendy’s house, unlike many in Cape Breton, had three floors, along with a basement and attic. Aside from Wendy’s bedroom, there was a laundry room. The dirty water in the sink would rush from the washer hose, bubbling up, threatening to overflow, but it never did. Next-door was a motel with a neon sign that read in turquoise and pink, “We have the best rates in town!”, but the ‘E’ in ‘rates’ kept flickering on and off day and night so that every few seconds it would switch to, “We have the best rats in town!”
“Everything has a past, a voice, existed at some point, even things as small and seemingly meaningless as a house in a huge suburb. It’s a house like every other house… but at some point a family lived there, made it theirs, made it important. When people forget that history, that somebody at some point thought the house mattered, it just becomes an empty pile of nailed wood and brick and concrete that gets torn down for some strip mall or chain store to take its place… and that’s what happens more and more now, everything is disposable, always replaced with no thought at all. That’s where things get lost, memories get lost, humanity slips through the cracks, because when we all fail to pay attention to the things that make up our lives, we’re no longer human at all, not really.”
“We were poor back then. Not living in a cardboard carton poor, not “we might have to eat the dog” poor, but still poor. Poor like, no insurance poor, and going to McDonald's was a really big excitement poor, wearing socks for gloves in the winter poor, and collecting nickels and dimes from the washing machine because she never got allowance, that kind of poor… poor enough to be nostalgic about poverty. So, when my mom and dad took me here for my tenth birthday, it was a really big deal. They’d saved up for two months to take me to the photography store and they bought me a Kodak Instamatic film camera… I really miss those days, because we were still a real family back then… this mall doesn’t even have a film photography store anymore, just a cell phone and digital camera store, it’s depressing…”
“I might be the hazardous waste site that polluted it, but Cape Breton Island is still my home.”
“Mandy smiled cheerfully at an overweight kid in a gold sweater and pink skirt who was chasing her little brother around along the boardwalk. When she was that age, on sunny days she’d be out on the boardwalk with Jud and Wendy, buying rainbow sorbet from the ice cream shop and placing paper boats into the harbour. She felt like a ghost, drifting past the shell of her own childhood.”
“Mandy loved the smell of a sunny day after a night of rain. The sun hit the orange puddles, the overgrown, soft, green grass on her lawn, and it beamed down through the orange steel mill smog, sending otherworldly, bizarre shadows across the concrete sidewalk.”
“They think I’m not entirely ‘grounded in reality’, they say. They want me to go to some live-in nerdy activity ranch thing for troubled Canadian youth, that one out in Ontario where you come back programmed like some robot, dressed in a tye-dyed shirt and eating tuna sandwiches,” Mandy explained, a horrified look on her face.
“You’re eighteen, not twelve! Would they really send you to some rat’s nest like that?” Wendy questioned in mock horror. “Aw hell no, if you get sent there, they’ll make you hold hands and sing songs about caring! And they’ll force you to recycle everything in blue canisters, and to discuss your emotions in front of groups of bratty little dopes!”
“Dear god, they’ll have geeky youth wiener roasts at night, and no locks on the doors!” Mandy added, eyes wide. “…It’ll be the day pigs fly, my parents have the camp brochure on the fridge but they’ll never go through with sending me there. They always forget.”
“Kipster is a perfectly valid word,” Wendy argued, about to write down her score on the little notepad that had come with the game.
“Okay, so what does it mean?” Mandy wanted to know. Wendy struggled to come up with an answer, and finally just changed the subject with school gossip. Mandy found herself just ignoring it… it always sounded the same, the same events, same rumors, same secrets, same affairs, but never anything of interest to her.
“Well Sarah’s on drugs again and that’s why she did it in Mario’s backseat, but now she might be pregnant, oh, and that messed-up Seth kid’s been cutting himself again so he was sent away to Halifax last week, and there’s a festival in Wolfville but Kathy won’t go because Audrey-Rose is going to be there and they hate each other, and….”
Mandy had learned two years ago to detach herself from gossip; she’d learned it from Jud’s death. Wendy may have been eighteen years old but she could be immature on the best of days.”
“You should find something better to do with your time,” Mandy told him. “I spend my time shooting people, and then I take them to darkrooms and blow them up.”
“…Come again?” Alecto questioned with a tone of alarm in his voice.
“I take photographs and develop them myself, I’ve got my own darkroom… it was a joke,” Mandy laughed. “I love photography and I’m gonna be a photojournalist someday.”
“Really?” Alecto asked. For the first time since she’d met him, he sounded slightly enthusiastic. “…I take photographs and I film my own home movies, I have a darkroom as well… but I can’t be a photojournalist like you… I can’t be anything… still, at least I can take photographs, it’s fun.”
“I’ve seen how cigarettes went from being advertised in every type of media to being something found to be deadly… they can’t kill me no matter how many of them I smoke but I’ve seen humans die from smoking them… if I were you I would stop smoking them.”
“Why should I? You smoke ‘em all the time, you chain-smoke cigarettes,” Mandy pointed out.
“Yeah, I started doing that back in the Sixties… for reasons you likely saw on those VHS tapes… but I’m not a person, I’m Pollution, things like that aren’t dangerous to me but they are to you,” Alecto told her. “It’s not a good idea.”
“I sighed. “Monica? I haven’t waxed my eyebrows, or any other essential areas, in over a month. I have four gray hairs at the age of twenty-nine. Three newfound whiskers on my chin. The bags under my eyes are atrocious and I’ve gone six months without using moisturizer on my face. I’m a fucking wreck!”
“She glanced at the bathroom door once more, her cheeks growing warm as the glass door slid open and Kane emerged from the steamy shower stall.
She swallowed, unable to tear her eyes away from his nude, dripping-wet body. He had the kind of rock-hard physique that would make other women drool. His broad chest tapered to a trim waist, and his legs were thick and dusted with golden hair. He was lean, not bulky, with perfectly sculpted muscles that looked like they'd been carved out of marble. He was hard. Everywhere.
"I'm afraid it's too late for you to join me in the shower," he said in a silky voice. "Though we could still make good use of the bed.”
“In youth, it was a way I had,
To do my best to please.
And change, with every passing lad
To suit his theories.
But now I know the things I know
And do the things I do,
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you.”
“I wanted my children and grandchildren to know that no matter when you are born or where you live, happiness and disappointments have the same flavors the world over.”
“Again, Syd had that feeling, the past as an echo, repeating itself as it faded. The poor had longed for Jubilee to save them from the powerful, and now the one-time patrons longed for the Machine to do the same. Every revolution believes it can return something that had been lost, but nothing is ever the same. The only thing that endures are people. Syd saw that clearly now, and perhaps so too did Marie. You could serve a revolution, an idea that ended up an echo if itself, or you could serve people, with their maddening contradictions. You couldn't serve both. You had to choose.”
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