I sit on the bunk bed in my unflattering puff sleeve top and high waisted pants, cheeks flushed, chin pimpled, thumb and fingers loosely gripping the exposed Polaroid for fear of perspiration, lips drawn back to form an imperfectly braced smile. Around me the plush animals, dogs mostly, seem perturbed and a little lost, like their names if they ever had them, which I suppose they must have done, same as I suppose that bland pink wall behind me must once have engrossed us with a texture. On the daisy patterned bedspread lie the other Polaroids – fogged, fading – and the other camera.
We got the cameras for our birthday. I remember using up all ten shots in the cartridge, then switching to those exciting flat boxes of spares that were our second presents and would double as places to hide secrets – click-clicking and whirring at everything that came to hand, one another, of course, the abalone and the amethyst, and other childhood keepsakes, the mobile of ceramic doves and, bizarrely, other photographs, of bands, and foreign lands, and boys, even Dylan, even then, with that breaking wave of blond-tipped hair and the latest incidence of bad skin on his sucked-in cheeks, framed forever on the daisy bedspread, or for as long as such cut-price alchemy can last.
Here it is beside me now, fading still: Dylan; Dylan's bad skin and retro zoot jacket with the sleeves rolled over like a dozen times; Dylan's car.
And there you sit on the lower bunk bed, in your unflattering puff sleeve top and high waisted pants, cheeks flushed, chin pimpled, thumb and fingers loosely gripping the exposed Polaroid in hope of miracles, lips drawn back to form an imperfectly braced smile.
First published online as part of the Found Polaroids project (foundpolaroids.com) in 2017.