Though the image was blurred, he liked looking at it. In the frame next to him, a companion stood half-in, half-out. There was what looked like a beautiful tower in the distance. That wasn’t what he liked looking at. What he gazed at was just himself, standing there with what was probably a very well executed partial smile—wholly obscured and cloaked in the fuzz of a poorly taken photograph. Still, he recognized himself.
He’d been wearing blue that day. It was over a month ago, but he never forgot a detail as important as that. He’d visited a landmark with two friends, and one of them had brought a camera. The landmark was a haze of stone in the background, and he’d chosen his blue windbreaker. Under it he’d carefully selected a red t-shirt, he now recalled. It had a miniature gray Nike swoosh right below his left clavicle. He had worn the windbreaker open to highlight the contrast between the two colors. The blue was bold and shiny. The red was bright and dominant. The colors were perfect together.
The day was golden yellow, with no clouds to hide the sun. The sound of the verdure had been almost deafening, with wind blowing through the trees and creating a twofold sound of both rustling and swaying. The windbreaker at times looked like a cape suspended behind him as the droves of colorless air attempted to wrestle it from his bold red torso. It was a chilling wind, but that was then. Currently, he was currently sitting inside his apartment, next to the orange red and sometimes blue warmth that was pouring out of his fireplace. Smoke was drifting up, too.
As he surveyed the photo, he began to feel remorse that the image had been so poorly preserved. He ignored the picture’s obfuscation, which had been brought on by the photographer’s poor balance. Instead he directed his thoughts to the ways in which the red mixed with that deep-set blue; specifically, the fact that it had been his own creation and accomplished just the end it was envisioned for. It was highly visible and even visually striking and he felt proud. He held it up to the light, trying to make out the details in his face. He smiled. He thought for a second about the day, the trip, his friends. Then he continued to examine his image.
His name was Brendan, and though he cared little for names, there was a majestical ring to his own. He liked the way it sounded in the same way that many people take their eggs every which way. He preferred his eggs fried, and hated them poached or hardboiled. But he liked his name every which way. He liked it when his teachers said it, when his friends said it, his parents, the police officer that time he had been pulled over; he liked it when it was said out loud. He liked his name when it was shouted, when it gently fell onto his ear, when it was spoken in reproach, in sadness, in apathy, in all kinds of passion, and in all kinds of indolence. There was just something very nice about those two syllables, and he considered himself very lucky to have been given such a noble, estimable-sounding name.
Perhaps it was luck, but more likely than that, his parents had taken one look at him and decided that he couldn’t possibly be a Bernard or a Stephen. The photograph flickered minutely in the firelight, catching his eye, and in that moment he knew that luck was only the beginning of it. Things came easily. Like his smile. People had told him it was perfect, and, in fact, it was. It wasn’t affected, it wasn’t overbearing, it didn’t dominate his face, didn’t show too many teeth. What it did do was rest gently under his nose while working in concert with his mesmerizing eyes. They were eyes of an unplumbable depth; sparkling and infinite, they seemed to give off light rather than absorb it. They had angel-like flecks that coalesced, when examined closely, into a miniature galaxy. It was as if the entire cosmos was contained in each one. And there were two; that’s two cosmoses.
It was with these eyes that he looked at the clothes he would wear, looked at the camera and tried to gauge when not to blink based on when the picture would be taken. The very same eyes that chose the red shirt and the unzipped windbreaker. They were the eyes of a genius. And now they stared long and piercingly into that flat piece of photo paper. They tried to meet the gaze of the blurry but all-too-recognizable man in the photograph, but there was something getting in the way, blocking the connection. It didn’t matter.
He got lost in it. Curling up by the dancing colorful flames, he held the photograph at several angles to let the light catch it with differing degrees of faintness. He preferred it when there was less light on it. The less light, the more his eyes could fill in the precise contours where the shaky camera work had failed. With a great deal of thought and attention, he began to see himself. The beautiful tower looked on, and his friend remained a blur. Brendan slowly closed his eyes and the world, too, became a blur.
He slept soundly.
10 November, 2011