Firehouse Photo


The year Elton died
I gave a donation to the firefighters
That tried to save him.
They gave me this postcard and said,
“Come down last Sunday in April
And get your free picture taken.”
I washed and curled my hair
Colored my lips and cheeks,
Ironed that floral dress Elton liked
And walked to the firehouse.

Young Burke Creech was set up
At a folding table in the left bay
Like it was Election Day.
He told me to sit on a folding chair
Next to Ed Crowley’s girl
And her beau who works at the feed mill.
I nodded when Betty Durham
And her mother Bea came in.
She uses a walker now.

Behind the screen the photographer
Wrestled with a toddler holding up
The family portrait with his cries.
When they came out I could see it was
Jimmy and Julie May Weathers
And Jimmy Junior all hot-faced,
On their way to the baby shower
For his soon-to-be sister.

My turn, I followed the photographer
Back to his space with props and lights
And a little black camera on a tripod.
He was gentle as a doctor,
Touching my shoulder to pose me
By the empty second stool.
I felt my breath catch tight.

Then I straightened my posture,
Tilted down my chin and smiled
Knowing that when I return
To the firehouse to pick up my free photo,
I would see my future
Without Elton.


Cindy Brookshire is a co-founder of Write by the Rails, an award-winning chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. She lives in Pine Level, North Carolina, and is a member of the Johnston County Writers Group in Selma. Her short story, “Woman of the Year,” is being published by the Pisgah Review in 2017; her short story, “Balloon Baby Jesus,” was a finalist for the short-short fiction prize in North Carolina State University’s 2016 Fiction Contest. Her short story, “Loose Threads,” won second place for short story in the 2015 North Carolina Senior Games’ Silver Arts competition.

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