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Britney

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(PHONE RINGING)

ALICE:
My name is Alice, and I’m a camera.

JIMMY:
Alice, why don’t you start...why don’t you tell me what a typical day looks like for you.

ALICE:
Well, these days, there isn’t much to recall. Right now, I’m sitting a musty, stale box, safely nestled between old children’s toys and antique clothing. It doesn’t look like I’ll be used anytime soon. I’ve been sitting untouched in the back of this closet for two years. And besides, with Tyler as their new toy, forgetting me is easy.

JIMMY:
Tyler? Tell me about him.

ALICE:
Tyler’s the new smartphone – the literal definition of perfection. Think straight-A student, star-athlete, who volunteers at an animal shelter and tutors low-income students on the weekend. Tyler can play games and watch movies and do your math homework for you. He’ll make you cry and laugh and cry out of laughter. What’s more, he takes pictures. Ever since Tyler entered my life, I’ve been pretty much useless. Now Laurel won’t even touch me.

JIMMY:
What did you do...when it was just you and Laurel?

ALICE:
Oh, the good ol’ days. Laurel was sort of a night owl. She’d sleep in till 2 or 3 in the afternoon, drink about a gallon of coffee, and get to work on her book. In those days, she wanted to compile her photos into a book – a tangible documentation of her life’s journey. She viewed her photos as a roadmap of her experiences, of the people she met, the stories she heard, and the laughter they shared. She’d have piles and piles of black and white photographs laid out on all the available surfaces of her apartment, and she’d sort through them, trying to categorize them into major experiences.

JIMMY:
She sounds like a dedicated woman.

ALICE:
She was...she definitely was. After 4 or 5 hours of sorting through her pictures, she’d head out for more. Preserving her experiences and preserving the stories of the people around her seemed as necessary as oxygen. Even though she was always in an excited-rush, she always handled me with care. I traveled around the city with her, tied by a strap to her neck. She always sought out excitement and adventure but found exhilaration in the strangest of places.

JIMMY:
What do you mean by that?
ALICE:
I remember, in our trips around the city, she’d always capture seemingly random pictures. She’d point me in the direction of piles of broken glass on the sidewalk, trash spilling out onto the street, a slim streak of smoke streaming from an old warehouse. I guess it made sense in her mind, but I could never make sense of it. Sometimes, she’d approach people who looked like they’d have interesting stories to tell and asked to take their picture.

JIMMY:
Was there someone...a person you still remember today? Or a person whose story still resonates with you?

ALICE:
Uhmm...actually yes. I remember Laurel walking to a bus stop one evening. The bus stop happened to be in front of a fast-food restaurant, so Laurel headed in to grab a quick bite. She stepped out of the shop with her food, about to dig in, but saw an elderly woman, pushing a shopping cart with cardboard boxes and scrappy clothes. Immediately, Laurel stopped her. I presumed she wanted to take the woman’s picture, but Laurel offered her food and money instead. I still remember that day clearly, even though it hasn’t been captured and preserved in film. I guess we don’t always need reminders of events that touch our core.

JIMMY:
I guess not. Do you know what happened to that woman?

ALICE:
Unfortunately not, but I know Laurel looked for her for countless days. I think she felt guilty for not being able to do more. The city often has unforgiving reactions to the homeless. I think that event touched the woman greatly. As a photographer, Laurel often goes unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of the city streets. But the woman did too. I think she felt relieved and appreciated to be noticed – to no longer be invisible.

JIMMY:
Yeah...I can’t imagine what it must feel like to walk through crowds of people who pay no attention to your struggles and who offer no help to relieve those struggles. Do you think Laurel turned away from photography after that event? Or is Tyler still to take the blame?

ALICE:
To be perfectly honest, I’m not completely sure. I know that Laurel wanted to invest more time towards creating organizations that would relieve the plight of the homeless. Maybe because of that, she had to more towards action and visibility, something she couldn’t achieve with a camera in her hand. Now that I think about it, Tyler is probably helping her achieves those goals right now. Perhaps, when the time is right, Laurel will return to photography, even though her passions currently lie elsewhere. In any case, I definitely feel glad that she is pursuing her dreams. Thanks for bringing a new perspective.

JIMMY:
Certainly. And I definitely learned a lot about what it means to be a camera. Hopefully all goes well for you. For now, goodbye.

ALICE:
Bye, for now.

(CALL ENDS)

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