Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read “Development,” a short story by Matthew Pitt, selected by Fiction Editor Rosie Parker.
Nothing lacked at my family-owned pharmacy—staffed by a solicitous crew who hadn’t asked in years to see picture I.D. proof I am who I say, the place doesn’t bother with circulars: Once they know what you need, they discount it. Their familiarity is palpable. On this Saturday, though, a drifting day I’d made no plans for, and found myself inserting errands in spaces where friends and reflection might go, I transferred my Rx records to a box pharmacy. A franchise found on almost any block—except those in my secluded neighborhood. Getting there meant, for me, a long and awkward drive.
Still, I made the switch.
In the parking lot, an LED message announced that the photo lab developed 35mm film. The per-photo price seemed like a pittance, though I really can’t remember how much it used to cost.
What I did know was I had a film camera stowed in my home, taking up space, black and blocky like a man’s dress shoe. The last camera we bought before the advance of pixels and USB cables. Before digital photography swept over us, converting us into unblinking believers in instant gratification.
Breaking out old photo albums used to be an event: done after drinks, or in the course of airy dinner parties floating past midnight. Studying images on a computer screen? It feels, by comparison, as slight as thumbing flipbooks. Motion is revealed, but not mission. The cheaper it got to reprint what we shot, the less attention I paid to the images I took. The less careful I got weighing gestures, backdrops, types of lighting. Why bother, when I can just store any shot in the limitless attic of a hard drive?