by Shashank Mané
The vintage photo booth located at Central Railway Station was now one of the older standing establishments of the city center. A large off-white plastic box lined with black and red paint markings bore inviting words to those who passed by to step inside and capture the moment for a few dollars. The inner area of the box was shielded with a large black curtain that kept out light and provided privacy to those taking a picture within. Through the years passed, the thick black curtain had faded to a grayish tone. The paint markings had diminished over the box with letters missing from the scripted text. Through occasional repair and changing times, the large photo booth had remained untouched.
The booth had been used extensively in the previous decade by people both young and old on their days and evenings out around the town. Now, the seldom-used booth stood out as an artifact from the previous generation for the young people who would walk by, disconnected with this odd piece of history. With the invention of smartphones and social media, the photo booth had diminished in popularity. Infrequently, lone visitors would step inside to take passport pictures. The booth was now all but obsolete, and more recently, it failed to deliver pictures that were taken due to technical difficulties.
Steven, a handyman hired by the railway station, was responsible for dismantling and disposing of the photo booth. Though it had been previously repaired, the time had finally come to remove the piece from the station. Steven, like many who had spent their youth in the city, had memories of this booth. On more than one occasion, he had stumbled in with friends late at night to capture memories in ridiculous poses and expressions. Now assigned to remove the photo booth from the station, Steven saw it only as a sign of the changing times and progression into the depths of the twenty-first century.
Steven took to dismantling the booth, removing the curtain and unhooking the seats inside. He unscrewed, plied, and pulled apart the booth to manageable proportions in order to discard it. As he lifted the final piece of the booth that was the base, he stumbled upon photos of young couples and groups of friends that had gotten lost below the stall. Some were riddled with dust and grease, splattered with dried liquid and other muck that had found its way to nest under the large booth.
As he looked at the photos, Steven was startled to find one of himself. Picking it up, he observed the photo. It was a black-and-white print with him at the center, surrounded by old friends struggling to fit their faces into the small picture. Steven laughed in disbelief, dusting off the photo and taking a second look. He had no recollection of the night but was now reminded of his friends in the photo, some of whom he had not seen for years. This small stained photo, a distant memory, was now sitting in Steven’s hands where it belonged. A piece of his past tucked safely under the booth was now uncovered. Placing the photo delicately in his pocket, he continued working to disassemble the relic, shaking his head and smiling.
BIO: Shashank Mané is a fiction author previously published in Every Writer, Indiana Voice Journal, and Vignette Review. He draws his creative inspiration from the diverse people and places he has been fortunate to encounter. Shashank is currently working on his first fiction novel.