SHADOWS by Jemi Fraser

Most people didn’t understand the importance of lighting. Darkness and shadows revealed so much.

A photograph taken in bright light showed only a dead body. Change the light source, change the angle, and that photo showed evidence.

Lacy checked the body using her eyes and the regular lighting first. The blood from the chest wound had spread onto the floor and the spatter reached even farther. She moved carefully to avoid disturbing any of it.

Lacy turned on the spotlight she’d brought and set it up on one side of the room. After turning off the overhead light, she moved around the body quickly, looking for anything obvious.

Seeing nothing, Lacy moved more slowly, taking pictures from above and then from floor level.

Was that a hair? Not dark like the victim. Blonde. Careful not to disturb anything, Lacy snapped pictures from multiple angles trying to figure out how the hair had ended up beneath the victim’s ankle.

After doing another circuit of the body with her camera and finding nothing else, Lacy moved the spotlight and repeated the process.

Then she did it again and again.

Evidence was tricky and it took patience to find it all. Not like on the TV shows where they snapped off a picture from two angles and were done with it.

Despite the subject matter, Lacy loved taking photographs. Her folks had given her that first camera when she was six. Best gift ever.

She might have started off taking pictures of butterflies and snails, but even then she’d seen the power of the lighting. Her mom had enlarged and framed her shot of a monarch landing on a tulip. The sun had glinted off the wings while the flower remained in shadow.

She’d earned a bit of a reputation with her treatment of shadows. She’d had a few showings in galleries but that hadn’t been her calling.

Nor had it made enough money.

Lacy’s interest in forensics had led her to a new use for her camera. Cause and effect. Light and dark. Crime and punishment.

Her current job satisfied her bank account and her need to use her camera at the same time. A perfect solution.

No matter where she put the camera nor how many angles she checked, Lacy couldn’t find any more evidence.

No handy weapon left behind. No fingernails or fingerprints. Not even a disruption in the spatter pattern. Nothing.

Lacy turned the overhead light back on and packed up her equipment, made sure she left nothing behind. She took a few moments to compose herself before opening the door. She didn’t want her expression or her body language to give any hints of how she felt.

Calm and cool, at least on the outside, Lacy slipped into the hallway and closed the door behind her. A quick twist of her wrist ensured it remained locked.

Back on the streets, she walked for a while, changed direction a few times then headed down to the subway and took three different trains.

Back in the sunshine, Lacy headed to a park bench and turned on her phone. When it was ready, she selected the best of the photos from the cloud and emailed them.

While she waited, she patted the pocket where she’d slipped the strand of her hair. No evidence left behind. Again.

The return email contained one word. Complete.

A quick check of her bank account showed the money had indeed been transferred.

Lacy shut down the phone and picked up her equipment. With the money from this job she had a cushion for a few months.

Time enough to shoot some butterflies before she took on the next job.

Jemi Fraser writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her nonfiction work focuses on the ways that dementia has impacted her family. Her fiction work varies from contemporary romance to suspense and flash fiction. Years as a teacher have taught Jemi that life is short and that happy endings are a must.

Copyright © 2020 Jemi Fraser. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.