Ab Memoriam

Hillary Bunch finished wiring Mrs. Globek’s head to the back of the chair and stepped back. It was 1883, and postmortem photography was in full swing. Bunch and his brother Amos, who ran a funeral parlor, had invested in a silver nitrate camera with a half-hour exposure time, lighting-fast for the era. Mrs. Globek had been secured to her chair in preparation for her portrait, pupils painted on her eyelids. Hillary set the camera ad left to conclude business up front.

Later that day as Amos laid Mrs. Globek in her casket, Hillary developed the plate in his darkroom. As the plate developed, he stared. He swore. He picked up a fire poker and raced to the other room, because of something present in the picture.

Motion blur.

 

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