Old family photos spill out of photo albums that have been hidden away in boxes and totes for years. Most are too wide for a single hand to clench tightly around the spine while lifting it out to safety, and two hands must be lowered simultaneously into the totes to ensure that the albums don’t crack. They can no longer handle the pressure of the hundreds of photos that they are holding. Some of the albums are blue, some are red, some are purple, but all are aged. They are too worn out to be looked through often, so they have been unseen for years. The edges of every album are dented inward and no longer look appealing, banged up like old textbooks, having sat in a cluttered locker all semester. Trying to look at the pictures is a task of its own. The rings holding the pages of the books together are coated in a red-orange metal that was once silver. Tugging and pulling on the pages until they finally come free from the grasp of the rust, while scanning the page up and down as it turns, is all that can be done to make sure that the pages do not rip. Some of the pictures come unglued and fall to the ground like leaves falling from a tree. The dried up glue can be seen where the picture once held its place, trapped inside the pure white frame of the nonexistent photograph. The pictures that were once black and white have turned gray and yellow with age and the edges have turned up, so the picture does not even make a full rectangle, but an oval. Each page shows pictures of people from previous generations that have long ago been forgotten. Old photographs are often times more interesting to look at because they leave one to interpret the picture for themselves.
One of the photographs that has fallen onto the floor stands out among all of the others. In the center of the photo, an old woman is sitting between what may be her husband and son. Her hair is pulled back into a tight bun, accompanied by slightly visible fly-away pieces of loose hair. The scowl on the woman’s face, along with her two razor thin eyebrows have come together causing creases on her forehead and around her mouth. Her wide shoulders suggest that she is a hard worker, and the position of her hands where they are placed carelessly on her lap, prompts one to think that she does not want to be posing for the picture.The two men sitting beside her, dressed in full suits and tight collars, look almost as miserable as she does, but not as stern and unwelcoming. The man sitting to her right has a long gray beard and is almost identical to the younger man sitting to the left of the woman. Standing behind the aging woman are three more adults. The woman in the top left has a smirk on her face that sets her apart from the others. The corners of her mouth are slightly turned up, rather than down like everyone else. Looking into her mischievous eyes makes one wonder what she knows that the others do not. The people surrounding her look as if they have been programed like robots to look cold-hearted and mean, or possessed by something from an outside world. The children, sitting on the laps of the two men in the front row, seem to be oblivious to their environment. Unaware that the picture is being taken, the infants stare off into the distance of their unpromising future.
The photograph is eerie, and the people are mysterious. Even though the picture was taken years earlier, one can’t help but to wonder the story behind the family looking into the camera. It gives chills to those caught staring into the eyes of the forgotten family.