The tips of her fingers are numb. It is the one downside to this weather. She can put on the second part of her gloves, turning them from fingerless to mittens, but she doesn’t want to. She needs the bare skin to work the finer parts of her camera and to hold it properly. There are so many good shots to take.
She walks down the suburban streets, lined on either side by large houses and their spacious lawns. Click. This time of month sees all of the cute Halloween decorations taken down and replaced with sparkling Christmas ones. Click. She feels it’s still too early for Christmas. The snow hasn’t fallen yet. The ground is instead covered in the reds yellows and browns of the leaves that used to cover the now bare trees. Click. She enjoys those colours, and the photos she can take of them.
She turns the view of her camera to capture the sight of a house that is still decorated for Halloween. Nothing fancy – just a single plastic relief of a scarecrow hung from the door. She wonders why the homeowners would leave this up. That’s when she notices movement in the digital screen. From between this house and the one next to it, she can look into the backyard. There stands an older gentleman, busying himself with the task of raking the leaves.
He’s better dressed for the weather. His grey fur cap has the ear flaps pulled down. He has on big yellow Timberland boots, the kind her father wears for his job in construction, though she figures this man is too old to still be working a job like that. His thick plaid jacket seems a little too big – it doesn’t cover him so much as surround him. As she snaps a picture, she notices the jacket might be too warm for him. The man is pulling at the collar between sweeps of his rake, occasionally trying to unzip the top with the fingers of his thick yellow leather work gloves.
As she’s about to take another picture, the man hunches over sharply. The rake falls from his hand as he goes to hold the upper part of his left arm. He looks like he might be having a heart attack.
In a brief, insane moment, her finger tenses over the capture button. This man, keeled over in the center of her frame, the faint crosshair of the viewfinder over his back, is a dull click of a moving shutter away from being captured in this moment. The world beyond the digital screen fades away from her peripheral vision. The image before her is separated into many tiny pixels. The padding of her numb forefinger now burns on the smooth curved plastic of the button. The camera feels heavy.
He falls over and is out of frame.
She drops her camera. Its strap tenses around her neck as it swings down and hits her chest. She runs to the front door and rings the doorbell and yells.
“Help! Somebody, help!”
She hurries to the gate on the side to the backyard. It won’t open easily; she has to forcibly dislodge it from its frozen state. When it finally gives, she rushes to the man. She doesn’t know what to do. She drops down to her knees and turns the man over. His eyes are closed. She struggles to free her phone from the confines of her jean pockets. With her numbed finger tips she dials 9-1-1
From somewhere she hears a door open.