Short Fiction

The Darkroom by Freya Williams – Warning – content that some readers may find disturbing.

Oh, how satisfying it will feel to fill that final gap on the wall! In just a few hours, his collection will be complete at last, the wall completely covered in carefully measured rows and columns of black and white stills. The precision of the white gaps (28 mm) between each photograph gives Andrew great pleasure – he has always been exceptionally neat. It is extraordinary how many memories are held, suspended, within these grains of film. His favourite is 8 across 6 up, the one with a small 36 inscribed on the bottom corner.

At a distance, it appears to contain a woman, naked, sprawled over a long sofa. Upon closer inspection, however, you can distinguish the rolls of her skin from the folds of a chiffon dress gathered around the small pouch of her belly. The exposure being a little too high, her skin is a startling milk-white against the dark sofa. Oh, the thrill he felt as he ever so gently lifted a dark, thick curl from her cheek and tucked it behind her ear. How difficult it had been not to wake her in that moment – not to kiss her, touch her. It would have ruined it all though, she was so blissful. Andrew exhales heavily and his tongue, heavy and slippery, rolls across the roof of his mouth, pushing against the strong bone at the memory.

46, directly below, is much clearer to see from the other end of the darkroom. Dominating this shot are a pair of heavily pencilled eyebrows, which arch above the closed, painted eyelids. Her face fills nearly the whole shot. There had been such a tightness in his chest when he’d held his breath over her, his slick left palm cupping the heavy lens, his right elbow resting just millimetres from her head on the pillow. He closes his eyes and rubs his thumb and forefinger together in a circular motion. She had been a little too theatrical, he thought. Pretty, yes, but not beautiful. Not like this final one.

As Andrew flicks the safelight on, the room becomes bathed in soft, sensual red light. Gently sliding her out of the enlarger, he holds her by the corners, carrying the paper over to the three plastic trays in the middle of the room. Lowering her, face down, into the shallow solution, Andrew begins to gently rock the tray, the sea of chemicals lapping at the sides of the tub. Liquid has such a rhythm, such a steady rise and fall, a back and forth, a rolling, a swaying. Perhaps that’s why he loves watching the sea so much. 60 seconds pass and he pinches the corner with metal tongs, pulling her from the oscillating liquid and placing her into the next tray. After 10 seconds she begins to appear on the paper. With separate tongs, he lifts her out. Oh, the ecstasy he feels at seeing her like this! His fingers throb and his tongs shake as he stares at the photo held in his grasp.

Unlike the other girls, Monica is not lying down but is sat, fully conscious, over a martini, a cigarette dangling from her mouth. Enthralled by his desire to capture her, Monica had leaned into the gaze of the camera, the dark valley of her cleavage widening, and her eyes shining under the thrill of Andrew’s intensity. What a time they’d had together.

After 2 hours, when she has fully dried, Andrew will take his fountain pen from the drawer and ever so carefully inscribe a 50 on the bottom corner. Once she has been smoothed and pressed into position, Andrew will draw up the white plastic chair and sit, legs slightly apart, feet planted firmly on the floor. He will not move but will sit here, staring at the women until he can no longer.

Freya Williams  

Image by www_slon_pics from Pixabay 

10 thoughts on “The Darkroom by Freya Williams – Warning – content that some readers may find disturbing.”

  1. Hi Freya,
    This was creepy and made me cringe.
    It was really all about our own imagination. Were they sleeping? (Fucking doubt it) But there was nothing said about killing, ways of killing, voyeurism etc so I do think this really picked at our own imaginations on where we took this!
    It was well written and the tone and pace were excellent.


  2. Hello Freya

    This is a clever angle to take into a very dark darkroom. The approach to this merciless little universe is inspired and will cause many, whether they cop to it or not, to wish they had thought of it first.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.