Janie partook in the college graduation festivities before packing and preparing for her flight to a new life. Once an awkward, skinny girl, she was now a force of nature. Friends described her as being filled with life, vim, vigor and inspiration. She was, in fact, very beautiful.
Janie smiled often and talked easily with anyone. She looked like a model, had an enviable eye for photography, a 4.0 average, and possessed the personality of an extremely dear friend. Janie’s closest friends called her Earth Mother. She could write her own ticket and did.
In the early a.m., she crept from her dorm to pile all her belongings into a cab, all but her precious camera. It was a permanent fixture, dangling from her neck through years of tests, parties, cram sessions, roommates and trials and celebrations. Wisely, she knew that life would hand her unique opportunities to shoot in the most mundane of days. She was never unprepared.
Janie sat quietly dreaming in the back seat of a cab, thinking of her destination and how exciting it would be to experience the USA and to join a team of journalists, reporters and photographers unequaled by any, in her estimation. She squirmed in her seat anxious to get there, to put her talent up against the tenure of the best and more than ready to prove herself.
She arrived at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport and boarded the flight nearly buzzing with excited anticipation. Once airborne, she extracted a small radio and donned headphones. Janie stayed abreast of the news and breaking bulletins where she was headed.
There was news of terrible storms that spawned tornadoes while the death toll climbed. She deplaned in Missouri, found her luggage and hailed her last cab of the too long day still preoccupied. What, exactly, would the face of horror or terror look like?
Janie scolded herself for her dark thoughts, not yet noticing that the cab had slowed to a crawl, nor did she see the monster just beyond them chewing up a field and closing in, until a second later. Good God, it’s living evil, she thought as she sprang into motion,
“Wait,” Janie yelled, “Stop! I have to shoot this!”
“But, Miss,” He began urgently, “Do you know how fast it could…”
“Damn it! Stop the cab,” she ordered half jumping out to lunge for the tripod.
He slammed on the brakes uttering an oath as he leapt out and ran to catch her. He eyed the length of several football fields between the twister and Janie as it leveled everything in its path,
“Come back,” He shouted, “There’s no time! Come back!”
Janie set the wide-angle lens on auto-shoot as the driver ran to move the car to safety, muttering, “Crazy lady doesn’t care if she gets killed,” as he shoved it into reverse and floored the gas pedal hard.
Janie froze in fear, not realizing that the wind would whip her camera to capture the true face of terror locked in a single frame with the beast, before it closed the gap and claimed its prey.
The photo was her last ‘first’ in the news game and adorned a beautiful coffin at her wake. The picture was splashed across headlines by would-be co-workers, all of whom were in attendance that day.
But perhaps the most poignant words came from a lone cab driver who made his way from the back of the crowd, choking on tears. He laid a gentle hand on her photo whispering in his grief, “You were a beautiful force of nature, Janie. I wish you hadn’t met your match. I would have liked it to be me. Rest peacefully, sweet Janie.”
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