The Red Scarf – Short Story (Part 4)

The Red Scarf [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]

By J. A. Weymouth

The next day, Henry took the newly developed photos and began studying each subject to choose those that stood out and toss out some that he was unsatisfied with.  Those that he would decide to put up as part of his exhibition he started preparing them for larger sizes and the frames that he would later fit them in.

While Henry had placed his prized photos under the enlarger he noticed something odd about one of the photos that he had taken from his first photo shoot.  What he had noticed could not be possible.  At first he thought it was the speck of dirt or spot of light he tried to ignore while he had been trying to take the photo.  What appeared to be a disturbance of the lens was in fact a blur or a motion construed by something in the picture.  As he stared at the image, he slowly began to understand the shape – a blur of movement, like someone turning away.  Faint and distant.  It seemed to Henry like an outline of something small but distinct but almost as if it were a shroud of light broken by shadow.

As Henry stared closer, he began to think of it as something like a figure with the soft outline of someone’s head, crouched over in the very far corner of the room, as if in a strange way, that it was hiding itself from the mirror.

Adjusting the enlarger, and focusing the lens more, he then removed the photo and cleaned it for a better look.  It was distracting him.  But it was no good.  The motion was still there and as he looked at it closer, he realised the shape that formed in the picture had now moved.  The faint outline of a feminine figure became the centre of the photo.  She had raised her head as if something had caught her attention.  The movement was a blur but the gesture had never been so clear.

Henry was positive that he had been the only one present in the room at the time so it was impossible that someone else had been there at the same time as him.  He was sure since the door was the only entrance to the room, or at least, he thought he was sure.

Henry took the next photo and placed it in the enlarger.  It was another photo of the mirror.  Again he sees the disturbance in the picture.  He was sure it was a girl because now, unlike before, he could see the girl’s face.  It frightened him, the way the girl’s face seemed to move in his mind, but obviously it wasn’t possible.  Her figure in the picture seemed somewhat blurred still even though he could clearly see her as if someone had dragged their figure over her image, smudging the outline of her.

Something unnerving and cool coiled around his stomach as an idea throbbed inside his mind, itching to be thought. Soft drops of sweat beaded his forehead as Henry glanced over the photo again.  It couldn’t be.  He was certain that he had been the only one in the room at the time.  Not only that but he was sure the girl had moved, which was impossible.

The photo shook.  No, not the photo but his hands.  The idea that something that was not supposed to be there, in the picture, had moved physically, changing from one frame to another.  The impossible became more absurd with every new photo as he watched and trembled all over with each picture he picked up and put it through the lens.  Henry felt like screaming.  She was standing still, slightly turned but now facing him.

Each photo depicted her movement as she appeared closer to him.  Henry took the photos away as the image of her was large enough for him to see without the lens.  He saw her and realised, beginning to understand the unreal.  Hands still shacking, he looked at her closely and watched (still half denying and half accepting) her move before his eyes.  She appeared to struggle with her movement.  The outline of her stilled then blurred and stilled again in quick vibrating motions which gave Henry the impression of a hummingbird’s wings fluttering so quickly that it had stilled itself into a slow motion of beauty.  It was beautiful but frightening.  Her elegant neck twisted against the red of the slash in her throat – her eyes deep with despair.

The idea lashed out at him as he realised what this was.  He bit his lip as he thought the word.  Ghost.

Fear subsided as he held her picture and realised something.  The picture was empty.  He had blinked only for a second.

***

Henry had awoken the next day to red with the memory of the girl and her bloodied neck.  She had haunted him in his dreams that night but was not completely certain if the whole ordeal had been real, not unlike his nightmare.

Flicking through the photographs with a desperate need to confirm this ghost Henry tried to find his proof but found only pictures of a derelict room.  The pictures that had once been the photographs of the mirror were now blank.  All he had left was the reminiscence of a mirror in empty pictures.  There were no signs of the girl.

Starting to doubt himself, Henry went to the bathroom and washed his face.  The ice cold water jolted his senses but did little to remove the unnerving feel he had since the night before.  He was sure it was real, as any shocking truth could be.  He would have liked to deny it but the flashes of the girl’s disfigured neck had seemed as an all too real thing – and the insurmountable sadness that he felt from her.

He decided there was only one way to confirm it by going back to the mansion and seeing it with his own eyes.

~~~

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