THE SEVENTH CROSS

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JOLINE SEES A PHOTO

Joline settled back into her final semester. She had already received several offers from potential employers and she enjoyed that rare luxury of having a choice, quite an accomplishment in today’s competitive market place. But, she was in no rush. In fact, she was seriously contemplating striking out on her own.

She had started a blog the same day she began her university studies and it had found an audience. As her confidence grew, her writing, and I might add, photography, matured to a level where she was beginning to make a decent living off of it. That’s when she began to dream really big dreams. Indeed, the world had become her oyster and she’d have the benefit of “no boss!” And she could get on airplanes anytime she liked. The absolute beauty of technology, a prison to some, the gateway to freedom for others! She was one of the “others.”

But the reality was that it meant that she spent an inordinate amount of time researching articles, flipping through magazines, listening to endless online podcasts, other blogs, and so on.

But today she was feeling a wee bit homesick and nostalgic. And when that happens she heads to her happy place. Her photo albums, online and otherwise were always there to transport her down memory line. She could, and often did, get lost for hours at a time. Today would be no exception.

Joline couldn’t put her finger on it but something was really beginning to bug her. Something about the photos. What was it? This is weird. In any case, she’d wasted quite enough time so back to work. She still had a blog that needed attention and an assignment was due in the next couple of days.

As she worked her mind kept drifting back to the photos. She shrugged it off as best she could until finally she threw her hand up in disgust. “This is ridiculous!” Time for a run! When all else failed there was nothing like a nice long jog to settle her down.

“That feels better.” to herself, and she settled into a pace that would push her just hard enough to keep her occupied on the task at hand. Five miles later and she was feeling like the old Joline again. A couple more miles should do it. And it did. A few minutes in the steam room, then drop by the market to pick up a few items, and then home. Finish up the blog and call it day. “Heck, I might even watch some TV for a change.”

And that should have been that. But that nagging feeling refused to be put to bed. By now, Joline knew there was more to this than met the eye. Her so called “gut” feeling had baled her out of more than a few situations in the past, and it was definitely acting up! “OK, fine! What’s up?” to no one. She often talked to herself, but she’d learned to make sure no one was around when she was having one of “those” conversations.

It was obvious nothing else was going to get done this day so I might as well try and figure this out. So she dug out the photos once again. Methodically. She tried to remember exactly when that feeling had come over her. She hadn’t paid any attention to it at the onset because, well, there was no reason to. My God, she must have looked at ten thousand photos, perhaps more. When she took photos, she took photos! And of course, she’d only edited perhaps at most, a thousand of those. Might as well start with those I guess.

Two hours later and nothing! “This is crazy!” But Joline was not one to give up. Hundreds, then thousands more would be scrutinized and then rejected, and soon it was three am. Now she was tired, her eyes were shot, and thankfully she was alone. She would not have made great company right about then.

“That’s it! I’m going to bed!” And she did, but it would be a sleepless night. And then, and this is not unusual, she awoke with a start. And a picture in her mind. “Oh my God!”

And now she knew what she was looking for. “Please be wrong! Please be wrong!” she muttered over and over. “Please, please . . .” And there they were. A handful of grab shots that she hadn’t done anything with. Snap shots taken, well frankly, just because they were there and she happened to have her camera with her.

She enlarged the images in question on the screen, and then sat back and stared. For a very long time. Finally, she hit “print” and watched three separate images emerge from the portable printer. And then she dug out the article that had sent her on this frenzied path. And sure enough. They were one and the same, at least as far as she could tell. Then she headed to the bathroom. And she puked.

She missed classes the next morning. By that afternoon she was composed enough to send a package anonymously to the lead investigator on the case featured in the aforementioned article.

Now she’d have some decisions to make and she had no idea where to begin.

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