Family Portrait

Grace is my favourite. The little dark one, the shadow in a family of lights; she doesn’t command the spotlight; she is the eye behind the lens. The foreground is occupied by her sisters.

Morgan, my twin. My other half. We are the oldest and separated at birth, but circling each other always, no matter the distance. I’m not in the family portraits but if I were, I would join her in the centre or together we would frame the sides. She is the sun in the centre; if she cannot hold, I’m afraid I won’t make it in time to take over. Even then, my own gravity is not as strong. I doubt I could handle the weight. I’m still only the secondary. I need her as much as all the others.

Amber is not in the photographs. She left to star in another system. Maybe I took her place? The place she was meant to fill. She was the first adopted daughter, I am the second. She got away, made her break for freedom. While we are trapped on the edge of an event horizon, did she, whose light was taken, escape far enough that it could shine again?

Brook is the oldest of the younger ones. She’s hard and angular and the most light shines and is reflected off her. Her presence is felt glaringly, her brightness is intense. She’s growing tall and defiant with her short, spiked hair and prominent, jagged bones. When something jars against her, you know it. I hope she grows into a fighter. I watch the others cringe who fear her growing so big the impacts and collisions she makes will send them all crumbling into the black hole.

Hope is light and sharp and clean. She’s a child genius. Swiftly, she makes her rounds, balancing the frame wherever she goes. She is the ambassador, the messenger, the peace keeper, the voice of reason. She talks like spring and listens like the moon. Hope is my advisor to the small goings on. I need her to be my right hand optimist and help us plan our own path out of here.

Lizzie is a tempest. She’s a lightning storm. She’s over-exposed. Being near her makes me flustered, which is why I need Hope as a buffer; when she talks it sounds like cymbals and when I walk she’s always at my feet. Brook may be a wedge but Lizzie’s a hammer. She shatters silence and disturbs peace but she also keeps us on our toes, reminding us to be alert to the void. She’s the only one of us that doesn’t flinch at the sight of it. She may spin backwards and I don’t understand her, am even wary of her, but she might one day be our last hope.

Grace is my favourite, though. Grace is the one I hold closest to me because she’s so soft, so sensitive and fragile. Surrounded by such bright objects as Morgan, Brook, Hope and Lizzie, she’s so easily overlooked but I champion her. Her invisibility has its benefits for she can traverse as she pleases; she listens, keeps secrets like herself and when I catch a glimpse of her in the shadows, I give her the cover she needs to move into the light. I slip her in under my arm, I hand her the camera and guide her to her subject. She is the one who captures the hidden shots, the ones nobody is supposed to see. She captures the void and the unsmiling faces. She has the proof locked inside her and one day, when she’s older, she’s going to expose all the darkness, all the posing and lies. All the pain will find release through her. That’s why she is my favourite, because she’s going to tell the family’s story, the one that I can’t write.


  1. This piece read like poetic prose. Particulalrly liked the descriptions of light and shade in the photograph that you use for metaphoric flights. Wondered why ‘you’ were absent.The description of the twin as being the ever present part of you, was poignant. The comparisions with the sun, lightning storm, tempest and star take the reader far beyond the picture with their suggestiveness.

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