Unsinkable

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We should never have happened, but we did. She was the daughter of a wealthy American industrialist and I was a struggling artist. We met at the home of my patron, another wealthy American industrialist — Paris was awash with them. When I first saw her, the world stopped. We were inseparable from then on.

I was late to our favorite bistro. She and her sister, Cecile, were already there, heads together, Cecile scribbling furiously. Audrey was bubbling with excitement, she was breathtaking.

They’d received a cable from their father. He needed them at home and had booked two tickets on the next boat to New York. It left in three days and they were in a frenzy of preparations.

My heart dropped. She was leaving me. When Audrey saw my face, she kissed me.

“You’re such a silly,” she whispered in my ear. “Let’s get married before I leave. I’ll book you on the boat after ours. It’ll give me time to prepare Daddy.”

We married in Southampton the day before she left.

The next morning I dried her tears. We’d be together soon. Their ship was new and unsinkable, and our lives were just beginning.

 

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Through the lens

OT501_Woodstock_1969

vietnam

 

I looked through the viewfinder and adjusted the focus. I wanted to make sure I got the Company’s mascot, Duke, in the right light. Happy with the composition I snapped the photo and put my camera down. Looking around I shook my head, my mind still trying to adjust to my new environment. I’d only been here for three days and I think I was still in shock. I walked off towards my tent to change out the film, trudging through the mud that sucked at my boots.

A week ago I’d also been ankle deep in mud but the surroundings couldn’t have been more of a contrast. There, I’d snapped photos of bodies twisted around each other in ecstasy, but here they were twisted in pain. There, I’d listened to the music of guitars and drums and voices raised in joy, but here it was the music of mortars and machine guns and agony.

Last week I’d been enjoying the free love of Woodstock, this week the hell of Vietnam.

I went where they sent me, documenting the world through my camera. I just hoped I made it out of this assignment in one piece.