In the Last Frame

by Beth Thomas Read author interview June 15, 2007
story art

He found the film at his feet on a Surfliner train somewhere between Lompoc and LA back in ’05.

And in the last frame on the roll, a little girl with curly brown hair and flushed cheeks

He reached down, fished for it, and then pocketed the small canister and looked around as though guilty of something.

has descended the stairs in footed pajamas

The train knocked and slowed at LA’s Union Station and then stopped, and he debarked and paused and stood looking around for her. She would look older, he told himself. Six years older. Not “barely twenty” anymore but now “nearing thirty.”

and stands near the Christmas tree, all bows and lights and red on green.

Her hair might be darker, skin lighter. She could have gained weight, or lost. He scanned quickly, then looked at each face specifically. Business men in expensive suits waited to continue their commutes, transients lay fetaled in the shadowed corners, mothers ushered children from seat to line to train, and finally, there, her.

She smiles, face turned aside,

She sat in the waiting area, her legs crossed, her elbows resting on the ornate armrests. She did not stand. She smiled up at him, but it was not as he had imagined. He replayed in his mind the halted phone calls and censored letters of the past six years. He had asked her to visit, but she had refused to come to the prison.

eyes cast to the haloed sparkling lights on the tree.

Had it come to this? A weak smile of recognition, a flash of memory behind the eyes, and then a graceless rising to feet and embrace? They traded greetings as though strangers, his posture honest, hers heavy shouldered and cloistered around the daughter they almost had.

And on the film the pearlescent blush

As she walks away he notes with purpose her retreating narrow shoulders, the subtle switch of her hips, and how the rhinestone comb in her hair catches light from somewhere and emits a dim shine.

of paper-thin wings.

About the Author:

Beth Thomas is originally from New Mexico but currently lives in California due to military relocation. She works as a technical writer in the aerospace/defense industry—don't ask what she writes about 'cause she can't really tell you. She has a BA and an MA in writerly things from New Mexico universities. Her work has recently appeared in Pindeldyboz Online, SmokeLong Quarterly, Juked, Word Riot, and other places.