“It’s okay Rosé I’ll be back for dinner. I promise! No! No! I mean it this time! I swear! Fine! I’ll call you when I’m heading out of the park and before I get on my bike. Yes! Yes, I swear! Okay. Love you too, chipmunk!”
I hang up the call and shake my head at my best friend’s overaction. The second I answered I received a scolding from my childhood friend, not the usually happy princess greeting she gives me. I sigh and think back to the last two days she invited me to dinner after closing her café. I had managed to get to her place late, late enough for the food to be stone-cold frozen, twice in a row. Visions of an angry squirrel chasing me around a well-decorated baby-pink living room, with a cooking pan in hand, shine vividly in my mind.
"HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME WASTE FOOD! She yelled at the top of her lungs while swinging the object at me, "I WORKED SO HARD LISA! IF ONLY YOU CARED ABOUT ME AS MUCH AS THAT CAMERA OF YOURS!
A smile pulls at my lips and I shake my head again, “Crazy chipmunk.”
I follow the path I’m on, behind a large group of tourists, and reach the large greenhouse. I pause at the right distance and pull up my camera, adjusting the lens with a practiced move, and take a snap at my safe haven. I feel glares from people behind me, annoyed that I’m taking up space of the path, but as alway I ignore them and continue to snap the shots I want. Once I’m satisfied, I put my film camera away and pull out my digital camera to repeat the actions.
The sound of camera shots echo in the spacious area I’m in. The sound brings me back to memories of exploring the world. I feel sad as my mind replays my adventures and compare them to my current job. My job as a professional photographer for fashion magazines is nothing compared to my first years working for nature magazines. Sure the money is three times as much but the awe I received by snapping a shot of falling ice glaciers hold no comparison to taking a picture of a celebrity on a couch. Coming to the Balboa Gardens or the local zoos and aquariums are the closest I come to that high I would get two years ago.
I shake my head and come back to the present, I can feel the canyon sand and snowflakes fall out of my ears with despair as I do so. With a scowl, I walk on towards the large building in front of me. My trigger happy finger keeps taking snaps of floating lilies with each step I go. By the time I’m at the building’s entrance, I have half the digital drive is filled and the film in my other camera needs to be changed.
The large rusted-looking house is filled with jungle-like plants in any available areas. Walking past all the stretched out branches is like walking through the forests I grew up around. From the jungle forests of Thailand to the woodsy snowed on forests of the Swiss Alps, this place is the closest I get to home. I spend a good hour at the greenhouse, taking pictures and reminiscing of a life passed by. Once I’m satisfied, both emotionally and artistically, I walk out of the garden house and walk toward my second favorite spot: the rose garden.
The rose garden is outside and uncovered, a perfect way to grow both wild and domesticated roses. There are two circle planter areas that create secluded areas for parties and such, one with a fountain at the center and the other with a covered up gazeebo-styled area. The paths leading to and from the two areas are filled with roses of all kinds as well as tall decorative bushes. The area seems deserted, which is odd as it’s noon on a Saturday, but I grin and walk just a bit faster to find my favorite rose bush.
With my long stride, I reach the bush and let out a happy yell. The pink and purple rose bushes are all the same type, an imported kind from Korea and parts of Asia, and were unique in the way they looked like they had two or more smaller roses inside them. They became a favorite of mine when my father bought my mother and me some for our family anniversary. It became a tradition of sorts for dad to give each of us a bouquet on that day along with cooking us our favorite foods for dinner.
“Miss you,” I mumble under my breath, “More and more every day.”
My last words are a bit watery and my eyes misty as I say them but I hold myself together to pull out my film cam. The roses were just watered so there are little drops decorating the soft rose petals. I bite my lip as the light hits the dew just right and shines a tiny rainbow in each droplet.
“So pretty,” I breathe out.
I softly hit the trigger, as if afraid to break the spell the roses have on me, and capture the moment in ink and plastic. I turn this way and that way to find different shifts in the light. Each picture I take feels like electricity flowing through me. If I could compare it to something, it would be the feeling of falling in love. Breathless and in wonder at each second passing by.
An eternity goes by and I stand up straight from the bent-over position I got myself in. My fingers swipe on the screen of my digital camera and I look over the pictures. I smirk at seeing the fresh drive taken over by wonderfully pink flowers. I see a few that are portrait material and mark them for later use.
“I can’t wait to frame some of these for Rose and mo-” I snap my mouth closed as a heavenly sound reaches my ears.
I look around me and see no one around. My brows furrow as I continue to look for the owner of the angelic voice I’m hearing. Finally, I see a small figure walking out of the garden and towards the closest parking area. As I walk out of the section I’m in and break free from the landscape, I can finally see the singer walking out of the garden.
The woman is petite with long raven hair that shines with each flick she triggers from her mesmerizing stride. The breath in my lugs catches in my throat as I look over her womanly curves, from her delicate shoulders and down her back to reach her perfect legs and finally her small feet in red-bottom pumps. The white dress she’s wearing makes her look like a fairy leaving her garden playground as it matches perfectly with the wide green plains and multitude flower bushes she passes by. If just the side of her back robes me of my breath, then the sight of her looking over her shoulder knocks me into the stratosphere. The young woman’s cat-like eyes burn into my soul and the perfect symmetry of her face makes me think of all the porcelain dolls dad’s family would buy for me for Christmas.
As if in a trance, I begin to follow the young woman and her hypnotic voice. My eyes follow her as she walks with a feminine swagger in each step and a twirl of soft raven hair, desperate to take in as much of the gorgeous woman in front of me. She makes it out of the garden and is quickly followed by a smartly dressed man in a sharp charcoal suit. Her musical voice is replaced with her speaking voice, just as lovely as it was before, while she speaks to the man. The man gives her his arm to hold onto, aid for when she begins to walk on the grassy downhill.
“Wait,” I find myself saying without a thought, “Hold on.”
Though I have followed the beauty, I’m still too far away to be heard. The woman walks the last few strides to a black SUV while holding onto the man. The man opens the back seat door for her and helps her in. Desperately, I take my digital camera and quickly snap without precise aiming. The sounds of my camera clicking are drowned out by the slamming of the vehicle’s door. I keep snapping like a mad-woman, hoping that the dark tint of the SUV’s windows will be opaque enough to get a decent shot. The sound of an empty alert hits my ears and I quickly grab my film cam. By the time I have the viewfinder over my eye, the woman opens the widow halfway and I’m gifted with the perfect shot of her angelic face mid-smile.
“Woah,” I gape.
I gasp and stare at the angel’s child-like smile with my camera half-way raised. The smile turns into a laugh that makes her squint just a bit and I feel a rush of heat hit my cheeks.
“Who are you,” I whisper.
The vehicle then shifts and suddenly moves forward quickly as if to imitate a speeding ambulance. I’m left with only one film shot and a heart full of flapping butterflies as the woman is driven out of the parking lot and most likely out of the park. I stay in place, eyes trained on the spot the woman was at just second before, and replay the whole scene in my mind.
“Who was that,” I ask no one, “She was…”
I blink through the fog I’m in and look down at my digital camera. My hands quickly move, faster then they have ever before, and I look through the gallery to the final pictures. There in the filled up storage are six pictures, half of them blurry, but one good one of the princess I just saw. I zoom in to frame the woman on the screen and feel the same warmth in my chest as before. Her smile makes me smile back just as brightly and I can’t help but describe her out loud: