The bombs fall from the sky and shatter a hospital. Through his camera lens, the photographer witnesses bodies scattered with blood. On the corridor is the figure of a boy. When the photographer is close enough, he sees the face of the dead boy. The pale cheeks remind him of his young son back home. His camera cannot record the rot and stink in the corridor, but it can capture the shape of the body. Snap.
The refugees are holding one another and listening to a violinist playing in the basement. The photographer listens with his camera down. Another thing his talisman cannot do is to document the tone of Adagio in G minor. As the elegy goes on, a mother comforts her crying son. Not far away from the crowd, two soldiers are resting. In melancholy, they relax as sleep takes over them. Snap.
A dead soldier lies on the pavement. And then there are more, five of them in total. Some of their faces are already beyond recognizable. The photographer takes another shot, and it is not until then that he realizes some are enemy soldiers. Blood and dirt have mixed the original colors on the uniform. Sometimes, nobody pays attention to the living until their bodies become part of a photograph. Snap.
The sniper from nowhere shoots a woman running on the street. It hits her leg, and she falls. The sniper and the photographer both hide in the dark and shoot their targets. They respectively play their parts on this stage call the battlefield: one’s shot triggers blood, and the other’s shot captures the aftermath. The photographer adjusts his camera to zoom in on the struggling woman. They used to say that if you can capture a cinematic shot of the abyss, it will be the apex of your career. But perhaps, the photographer says to himself, he can be more than a bystander. Before then, however, he needs to finish his task. Snap.
The camera is his eye. Ruins. Dead bodies. Soldiers’ backs afar. These are what the photographer sees on the battlefield. And when the photographer eventually falls, he becomes part of the scenes he took. His body becomes the new evidence to be shot by another photographer. “Tell the world this is what they have done to them. To us.” Another photographer will say. Snap.
Lillian Tsay was born in upstate New York and raised in Taiwan. After she graduated from college in Taipei, she moved to Tokyo and had lived there for four years. She is currently writing a dissertation on East Asian food history at Brown University. Besides her scholarly works, her creative writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Jellyfish Review, Atticus Review, amongst others.