(This is not the cover, but it is a sunset shot on Mackinac Island, where part of the story takes place.)
~ * ~
When people know they’re about to do the wrong thing, they don’t look you in the eye. Parents were no different.
~ * ~
“Never shoot into the sun.” Her father repositioned himself to pose for the photograph.
“Why not?” Rylee Morgan lowered the camera and squinted at him.
“Because it’s a rule. If you follow the rules, you’ll avoid trouble, and you’ll create beautiful pictures.” He stood in the back yard, the white aluminum siding of their house providing a backdrop.
She wanted to believe him. Rylee snapped the photograph, capturing his image.
He motioned to the camera bag he’d set on the ground beside her. “You remember how to switch the lenses?”
“How about one more picture of us?” He pulled the camera from her hand and drew her close to his side. At twelve years of age, she was nearly his height. Extending his arm, the camera lens reflecting their images, he pressed the shutter release.
He handed her the camera, then hugged her against him. “I love you, angel. Don’t ever forget that.”
She choked on her words. “You don’t have to leave, Daddy.”
“Yes, honey, I do. I’ll talk to you soon, though.”
“Take me with you.” She knotted her fingers in his sleeve.
A muscle twitched along his jaw. “I can’t.” He held her for another moment, and then pried her hands free. Bolting to the car without a backward glance, he pulled from the drive.
“Daddy!” Rylee chased after him. At the curb, she raised the camera and clicked the shutter frantically until she heard the whirr of rewinding film. Tears blurred her last glimpse. His car turned and disappeared from her view.
She hugged the Nikon against her chest and cried.
~ * ~
Never shoot into the sun--the voice played in her head. The rules she had learned early in her career never failed to produce flawless photographs. The rules she had developed for life had not served her as well. In the sixteen years since her father’s departure, Rylee had kept herself busy, focused on her career, and remained safe inside her well-constructed boundaries.
Rylee resituated the tripod and checked the sun’s position. She stepped behind the camera, looked once again through the lens and waited, watching the slight movement of the leaves. Water bubbled over rocks. Slowing the shutter speed, she could create a smooth cascade effect. Blue sky and white clouds reflected on the stream’s surface. This stretch of the rapids where the Youghiogheny River ran through Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania was her favorite spot for shooting.
Her thumb rested on the shutter release, prepared for just the right moment. The breeze subsided and the shadows shifted. Then, just as she pressed the button, some jerk decided to walk on water.
Rylee lifted her head and stared. A hiker made his way across the exposed rocks and into the middle of the narrow river--directly into the center of her view. She walked to the water’s edge and, with hands on hips, shouted, “Excuse me! You’re ruining my shot.”
Shooting Into the Sun
Copyright 2010, Linda Rettstatt
Available May, 2010 from Champagne Books