Hello! If you haven’t seen a Promptly Penned post before it’s really simple. We are all given the same prompt and we have to craft a small piece. Easy? Sometimes and other times not so much. This month the prompt says:
You stumble upon old home videos of you and your siblings as toddlers. Nostalgia fades when you realize something isn’t quite right.
*que ominous music* Bwahahahahaha! Okay so here goes:
Images flickered across the screen as Tara slowly sat forward in concentration. She’d recently had her family’s old, fragile 8mm films transferred to DVD, but hadn’t watched them. Until now.
Making a night of it, she’d popped popcorn and settled in to indulge her need for family long gone. Aunts, uncles, grandparents and parents, long passed, danced and laughed silently across her television screen. Her older siblings and cousins, just small children, ran and chased one another as they engaged in silent screams of happiness.
At the start of the evening, she’d laughed and kept a mental file of things to tease her brothers and sisters about. Hairstyles and clothing choices, so fashionable in the seventies, were ones they wouldn’t want to be reminded of now. As the late in life baby, she’d thankfully missed feathered bangs and bell-bottom jeans. She’s also missed time with her parents who had died when she was only eight.
Nostalgia though had taken a backseat when she’d seen a man moving through the flickering frames. He’d appeared in the first film her grandfather had taken in the early sixties. She’d noticed him because he was so handsome, with dark curling hair and high cheekbone, and she didn’t recognize him. He wasn’t family, she was sure of it.
As she’d continued to view the films, she become more focused, because every time the camera panned around, the man was there, watching, staring. At her? Tara shivered. Stupid thought. What was she twelve? So what an unknown man popped up over and over through the films. So what that he always looked the same no matter what year it was. And that was stupid too. People aged, it was inevitable. The films were taken with an old technology that made things grainy and slightly off.
Yawning, Tara knew she should turn the DVD off. She had to work the next day, but still she watched. The search for the man was like a macabre game of Where’s Waldo. Every single time, just when she thought he wouldn’t be there, he’d show up. Family friend? And, if he were in all the films, why wasn’t he in the family pictures? He wasn’t. She knew he wasn’t. She’d looked through the pictures all the time growing up and this man hadn’t been there. So why did he appear now?
And that was a crazy question. He didn’t appear. He’d just happened to be at all her family’s gatherings. Or at least all the ones they’d filmed.
She moved to sit closer to the screen, unable to stop herself. Because she’d noticed something else. No one spoke to him. Not one person turned to him and smiled. They acted as if he weren’t there. As if he was …
“Enough,” she said aloud.
Grabbing up the remote she forced herself to stop the DVD and eject the disc. She was tired, that’s all. Tomorrow she’d call her sister, Hannah, and they’d laugh at her overactive imagination.
She put the disc on top of the player and headed to her bedroom. Tara decided she’d read for a while then head to bed. No more videos. No more strangely handsome strangers. And the guy wasn’t a stranger. And there’d been nothing weird. Overactive imagination fueled by too much popcorn and too much work.
After brushing her teeth, Tara climbed into bed and plumped her pillows up. The ceiling fan whirled softly as she leaned over to set her alarm. As she settled back against the pillows she noticed an odd glow emanating from her living room. It was the television. She obviously hadn’t turned it off.
Rolling out of bed, she moved through the dark house. The light flickered and she walked into the room to find images playing across the screen. Her grandmother laughing as she moved her lips, obviously talking to someone off camera. What? No, that wasn’t right. She’d ejected the DVD. She knew she had.
A movement to her right caused her to stumble back as the man from the film. The man who looked no older than he had in the sixties, stepped towards her.
“Tara, I’m so glad we can finally meet.”
Now go over and check out what the other ladies have done with this.