SnapStory1000 was a writing exercise I started way back in December mostly as an experiment in trying to get me back to writing fiction. Back in high school, I was usually typing away about my personal life on Livejournal (Long may she reign), along with drawings (poorly drawn) comics, writing stories and even making some crummy little games on a thing called ZZT. It was all just an outlet for the petty frustrations suburban youth usually go through and become frustrated years later when they realize just how petty and meaningless they were in the first place. That’s the growing process I suppose though. In any case, when I entered college, those outlets then transferred to any number of incomplete screenplays.
Then I graduated and I all but stopped.
So hence SnapStory1000. I would write a story a day.
As you can see by the horrible grammar-error-ridden pieces of (mostly) slop written below, it was a lot easier said than done.
So I gave up.
But recently, I’ve been undergoing something a revival streak within myself. A need to push myself to become a better me by the time I finish my fourth year in Japan. Something to just tell myself “Okay, you gotta do this not just to do this but to prove something to us, man.” The emphasis on that last word is impossible to overstate. Also, the encouragement given by Loco (a far better writer) and Matt Schley (whose photographic talents with film make me envious) has been instrumental in this revival. Thank you gentlemen.
Incidentally, this idea is far from my own. Michael Kraabel has a series of (excellent) photos taken with some interesting stories in their own right with the name SnapStory. The difference between ours I suppose being that Kraabel writes non-fiction entries about the circumstances that led to that photo, whereas I am not really interested in the story behind the taking of the photo so much as the story that could possibly be interpreted from the photo.
After all, photography is about capturing the Moment. That Moment is subject to any number of interpretations. The Man at Tiananmen Square was sold in the West as characterizing defiance to the system while the Mainland Chinese government said it showed the mercy of the system to even those who would seek to bring it down before quietly ceasing circulation of it. In any case, the photo leads any number of questions – Who is the man? Did he die? Why was he standing there? What about the tank? Who controls it and what drives them?
SnapStory1000 would not be concerned with the facts but rather the wilder extrapolations. It’s a writing exercise, not a history lesson. The people in the photo are not the people in the photo but rather actors unwittingly cast in a story.
So without further ado, I present the a continuation of this would-be meme. I hope the reader forgives me for having censored every face in this photo.
Michiko Kobayashi was cleaning out her apartment, clearing every nook and cranny from her cluttered closet when she stumbled upon a certain relic from a certain time long ago. She never remembered having even seen this picture before, let alone who took it. Guessing from the fact that it was in her closet, her mother must have taken it when she dropped by to see the farewell ceremony for Mr. Takemura. Takemura was the heart-throb at the school. Young, handsome and charismatic, he became the object of admiration of the girls and aspiration for the boys, even if he was a math teacher. Michiko never cared much for numbers but his popularity was exponential. Alas, as a contract worker, he wasn’t long for her junior high, transferring all the way out to Saitama after only a year.
Even under the gunk that had obscured the aged colors of the dodgy digital print, Michiko could still recognize herself in that PE jersey. It had been a terribly cold April and even if she had to bear the horrible punishment of sitting in The Corner, be damned if she was subject herself to a skirt. She also could recognize the faces of Inazaki and Nakamura, even she couldn’t remember their first names after ten years of having not talked to them. Inazaki had been the best volleyball player around and Nakamura was an exceptional artist. Michiko herself was also on the art club and they weren’t shy about including drawings of Mr. Takemura in the school newsletter and their notebooks, complete with hearts and elaborate romantic scenarios.
Which it had made all the more unbelievable when she had actually managed to kiss him when she saw him in the city one day. Michiko remembered the time – March 16, 2015 at 4:45pm. The graduation ceremony was the previous day and so all the club activities were finished til April of the new school year. She had given the flowers and hugged her senpai and, still riding the highs of an upcoming vacation, she had gone to the city to meet her friend for window shopping around some mall or another.
Then she saw Takemura, walking by the station.
“Oh, Kobayashi. What are you doing here?”
“What are YOU doing here? They said you were sick.”
Takemura had been caught by the innocent malice of youth. “Well, yes -umm…. you see…”
“And you yell at us when we try to skip out on class.”
He quickly regained composure and turned to his Authority Mode. “Now don’t try to turn things around here. I am entitled to a little day off after graduating, y’know.”
“Lazy, huh? The test scores on your term test show that I wouldn’t be alone there.”
Michiko laughed it off. “Sooooo…”
“Who ya meeting?”
“How about me?”
“Let’s go on a date!” Michiko grabbed her teacher by the arm and started dragging him to the nearest coffee shop. Her friend could wait and, if the best case scenario happened, she could just rain check.
“Now hold on…”
Next thing she knew she was having a coffee date with the stud of Ishinomaki Junior High. She would be the envy of everyone.
“Michiko is fine!”
“– You know what a situation you’re putting me in, don’t you?”
“What situation? You’re leaving this month anyways right? No big deal! Watch..”
Takemura was thanking his lucky stars that it wasn’t a particularly crowded cafe and that the staff were doing a fine job paying little heed to the proceedings as long as no one was ordering anything else. Michiko could smell the cologne he was wearing – so odd for a teacher to be wearing cologne – and her arms, trembling in the nervous excitement, were firmly around him.
His cheek was a little rough to the press of her lips, but she did it again anyways. Just to ensure that this was a reality. This one part of the story that Michiko would always play over and over in her head. Something to keep warm at night with.
She remembered his smile as he finally used his arms to pry her away from him, but not before returning the embrace in a token gesture. To this day that smile always puzzled her. Was it one of satisfaction of the affection of a 14 year-old girl? Of longing for her? He never said and she would never find out, for her phone had rang. Her friend was waiting and Mr. Takemura was all-too-eager to not hold up the festivities.
Indeed, the final time they would see each other was in that photo. She never took his e-mail address nor did she ever give hers. It was an oversight on her part. She was so accustomed having him around that she figured she could always do that. She never spoke to anyone of the cafe date with her teacher. Even long after she left high school. It was a treasure for her. A treasure that the little mismatched girl would always be reaching out to.
This a part of Anna Ikeda’s “Show Me Japan” series, showcasing various photographers and bloggers throughout Japan. Give it a look and say hi to Anna, who is a lovely woman and fantastic photog in her own right.