Photo & Film on NewsLine Tonight

View of Grand CAnyon

Photo by Linnaea Mallette

Jack stood at the canyon’s edge and switched his phone to selfie mode. Too much face, not enough canyon. “All wrong,” he muttered. “I need maximum impressiveness.”

Phone in hand, he climbed the ledge, mindful of the low safety railing, and turned his back to the canyon. Still too much face. It was then that he noticed the tiny icons on the bottom of his screen. A choice between many figures, or one. He pressed many figures. “Wow! Way more canyon, just enough face.”

A gust of wind blew his bangs into his mouth. Damned COVID! He hadn’t gotten a chance to visit his masked, shielded barber before this road trip to take the perfect selfie that would signify freedom, down through the ages…Or at least to his grandchildren, if he ever found a girl to help him get children.

He spit out his bangs, shook them back, looped one unwashed hank behind his ear, and grinned. Tilting his phone screen from side to side, he scanned to get the best view of the wide gulf of the Grand, opposite cliffs russet, gray, and gold, mountains of heavy thunder clouds crouched on the far horizon’s shoulders and piling up to forever. There was too much to capture. How to decide?

Another gust of wind, this one with a hint of cold rain…an extra slap that began to chill. Better take this photo now, he thought. His Facebook Timeline was pretty empty—more like lonely. He shrugged. “Too bad Tyler, ol’ buddy. You shoulda broken quarantine with me—there’s hardly anybody here.”

Thunder rumbled across the canyon, as the clouds began to race and roil overhead. A chipmunk scratched at the base of the ledge’s wall, hoping for a scrap of something edible. A car door slammed and its engine sputtered and caught, suspension whining as it backed out of its parking place, tires crackling on loose rock. Down below, unseen, a burro brayed and went unanswered.

“Huh. Must’ve escaped the Rangers’ pen. You’d never hear all of that with wall-to-wall tourists.” Jack tipped his head, listening, searching the hill below for movement.

“Dammit!” Jack’s screen went to inactive mode. He lowered his head, his index finger tracing the unlock pattern once—incorrectly–and then again.  The camera opened up, but had reset to outward picture, rather than selfie mode. He tapped his screen, and swayed in the growing wind. Startling at the close-up of his nose and exhaustion-smudged eyes, he tapped again at the icon for a wide shot. His worn hiking boots shuffled on the sandy ledge as he held the phone at arm’s length and slightly above his head.

“Was that? Yes…maybe! A trio of eagles in the sky? Or maybe just a troupe of Turkey Buzzards, riding the jet stream. Either way, awesome!” He twisted his body to snap a selfie of canyon, birds, and his ecstatic smile.

“I could totally get a video of this, and post it on my Timeline. Too bad you missed this, Tyler, ya loser…”

That was the second-to-last thought he had as he switched on video mode, simultaneously twisted and raised his arm again, tripped over the safety rail, and arced backward into the air and down.

© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2020)


Short version

Jack stood at canyon’s edge, his phone set to selfie. “Ugh! Too much face, not enough canyon.”

He climbed the ledge, noting the low safety railing. Holding the camera at arm’s length, he noticed the screen icon for many figures, versus one. He chose many, and raised his arm again.

The wind gusted his bangs into his mouth. He hadn’t gotten a chance to visit his masked, shielded barber before this road trip. His buddy Tyler’d bailed because of Shelter in Place.

“This picture’ll be worth the risk!”

That was his last thought before he tripped over the railing.

© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2020)

Carrot Ranch Prompt(05/14/2020): In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that answers the question, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you are in absolute danger?” Go where the prompt leads!

Free Association Writer’s Circle: Prompt = Photo

9 thoughts on “Photo & Film on NewsLine Tonight

  1. Pingback: Response to Danger « Carrot Ranch Literary Community


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