I didn’t post the final version of “Childhood Photograph” because I’m still finding the story. The opening scene kept rewriting itself the way mysteries often do. Characters kept reintroducing themselves with new backstories and motives. Places like Lake Eola Park kept rearranging itself like replacing trees with bridges the more I stared at it.
This writing process depressed me as a college student. I wrote many research essays without a hitch. However, creative assignments like writing collage essays about my self-identity confused me on which word to put down first. The blank canvas became a stage on which I couldn’t perform. Every time I opened my mouth the wrong words came out.
Untruths performed backflips in the shape of a familiar man. A brown man with curly black hair told everyone about the time he got lost in a New York City gay club. The story sounded true enough that even he believed the part when his “hand moved up behind his (Snow Queen’s) neck”. He remembered certain events happening but the details faded long ago. I helped him get through the performance by making shadow puppets, distracting the audience, as he tried to recall the next scene.
The words came to him eventually and the show ended. I washed my hands backstage, trying to forgive myself, but the dirt never came off. I wanted to tell the truth but also a really fun story like other bloggers. Other bloggers talked about dating, current events, and coffee culture. I wanted to sound as interesting as those people and so chose certain memories to craft into an essay. However, my voice changed somewhere between senior year and graduation. I no longer wanted to talk about dating or about being an aspiring writer. I was already a writer. I was just trying to find something to talk about.