Brendon Small felt like his world was crashing down around him. Slowly, painfully creating a deep pool of what felt like nothing.
He had no purpose, now. He had no meaning or point. His camera was smashed, crushed to pieces, and he would never get it back.
Sure, he could go out and just buy a new camera, but it wouldn't be the same. It would be foreign, and strange, and it wouldn't record things properly, like his camera did. His camera was perfect. His camera functioned smoothly, and there was no other camera like it. Besides, that camera had history! His camera held so many memories of him and Jason and Melissa. His faithful, trustworthy camera that was always there for him when he had a fresh script printed from his word processor.
Now, though, he was stumped. His camera—his camera, that had recorded every movie he'd ever made since before he could even remember writing them out beforehand!—was smashed, run over by the black rubber tires of some idiot's car who hadn't the sense to look on the road before driving.
How would he ever make movies again without his loyal camera by his side?
"How do you guys feel about Tapas?" Coach McGuirk asked from the driver's seat.
"I could go for Tapas." Brendon replied, supplying enthusiasm where there was none. He could get by. He could deal. For a few short hours until he could get home and allow the loss of his precious camera to sink in.
It was only a few days before Melissa and Jason were hounding him about the next movie. Sure, their movies should never be watched again, they'd agreed on that. But it was their livelihood! How else could they pass time? They tried acting like normal kids, but it was too hard to return to normalcy after so many movies they'd made together.
They'd only given him a few short, miserable days to mourn the loss of his camera. He wasn't even sure they knew yet. They certainly hadn't noticed when it fell out of the car window, and they probably hadn't felt anything close to what Brendon felt as he watched his best friend get run over and crushed.
Nobody realized it, not even Brendon himself, but when his camera was smashed, so was every sense of stability, normality and constancy he'd ever had. Where he would move, or his parents would split apart, or he even had a new baby sister, his camera was there. For every win and loss (mostly losses) of a soccer game, his camera was there. For every new boyfriend his mother had, or for every girlfriend (and eventually a step-mom and half-sibling) on his father's end of the spectrum, his camera was there, and remained a constant.
He felt as though his entire world had gone upside down, and he didn't like it at all.
Which is why three days—three days—was not long enough for Brendon to get through every stage of grief he felt obligated to go through.
There was denial, for a split second in the car. And disbelief. He'd completely passed over bargaining; there was no way he was getting that camera back. That was for certain.
And then, there was the guilt stage.
It wasn't necessarily that he felt guilty for himself, or his friends, or even the movies that would now never be filmed. No, it wasn't anything like that. He felt guilty towards the inanimate object itself; how could he let that have happened to his poor, innocent camera? What had it done wrong? Why did he have to be such a butter-fingers? It was all his fault that his best friend was smashed, and, despite how desperately he wanted it, there was nothing he could do.
He was angry, for a short period of time, with himself. That was a very self deprecating time, during which he called himself a variety of names, and belittled his own intelligence, as if intelligence had anything to do with dropping a camera. It was an accident, and the smaller parts of his mind knew this, but the part that wouldn't listen to logic, the pure, raw, emotional portions of his mind would not—could not—accept this.
Then came the depression, and it was during that stage that people finally noticed.
"Brendon? Jason and Melissa are here to play. You want to come downstairs, or are you planning on building a toilet up there?" His mother called playfully.
However, Brendon couldn't decipher the sarcasm. "That's probably a good idea." He said tonelessly. "Just… send them upstairs, please."
He heard two sets of feet pattering quickly upstairs, and Jason and Melissa came in, and he could feel their judgmental stares before he saw them.
He couldn't blame them. He hadn't really washed in a few days, merely sat in the bathtub, soaked in the water and then got out. He hadn't slept well, so he could imagine the bags under his eyes, and, though he couldn't really tell, he felt an inner spark in him die out, and he could imagine that it reflected as such in his eyes.
Brendon picked his head up off of his pillow to look at Jason, but he didn't say anything.
"Do you think maybe we should, uh… start working on our movie now?" He asked, then sniffed and rubbed his nose.
"Yea, I've got a doctor appointment at six thirty, and I think between now and six we can get scene three completely done." Melissa said practically.
Brendon dropped his head back onto his bed and stared blankly back up at the ceiling. "No."
It was completely silent for a minute. Jason and Melissa waited for Brendon to elaborate, but when it became apparent that he wouldn't, Melissa said, "Well… why not?"
"What's the point?" Brendon asked rhetorically. "What's the point of doing anything?"
Jason and Melissa backed away slightly, unsure of how to deal with this side of Brendon. So they looked at each other and Jason said, "Uhh… Good… point, buddy. We'll just… go and try to… find the point in doing things…. Talk to you later."
Then they left Brendon to his moping, and instead went to talk to Paula about this odd new development with her son.
"Mrs. Small, I think Brendon's broken." Jason said.
Paula raised an eyebrow. "What makes you say that?"
Melissa responded, "Well, we just went to ask him about filming the next scene in our movie, and… he just asked us what the point was. What the point of anything was."
Paula's eyebrows furrowed, and she guided a small spoon into Josie's mouth before responding, "Come to think of it, Brendon's been acting pretty strange lately. Maybe I'll go talk to him, when Josie's down for her nap."
"Thank you, Mrs. Small. We didn't really know what to do, we've never seen him like this before." Jason said, and then he and Melissa left.
Paula, after putting Josie in her crib for her nap, ascended the stairs to her son's room to find he hadn't moved since Jason and Melissa left.
"Brendon? Sweetie? You wanna talk to me about why your friends are telling me you're broken?" She asked. But she saw what they meant. She didn't know how she hadn't noticed before, but he looked all out of sorts. His usually spiky red hair hung limp around his neck. His eyes were half closed, and he looked as though he was about to fall asleep.
"It's not me who's broken, Ma." Brendon replied. His tone was flat, as if he were angry.
Paula raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean? What's broken?"
Brendon looked at her, and Paula saw guilt in her son's eyes. "You remember last week when Coach McGuirk blew up our grill? And we were driving around thinking of somewhere to eat? Well, I was filming out the window, and I dropped my camera, and it smashed. And then a car ran it over." His eyes were tearing up and his voice was cracking. "I smashed my camera, Ma! My camera's gone!" He said, then dug his face into his pillow.
"Well, Brendon, why didn't you say something?" She asked. Surely if he'd mentioned that he dropped his camera, they could have stopped!
He mumbled something into his pillow, and Paula didn't catch a word. "Honey, your pillow's not going to respond."
He picked his head up and said, "I did! But you guys weren't listening." Then his face took its position back onto his pillow.
Oh. That would explain it. Paula bit her lip, then said, "Well, we can go out and buy you a new camera, can't we? Then you can keep making your movies with Jason and Melissa, and—"
"No I can't!" Brendon yelled into his pillow. Then he picked his head up and said, "It's not the same camera! I want my camera, the one that I've been using since before I can even remember!"
Paula put her hand on Brendon's head and rubbed it gently. There was nothing she could really say, because there wasn't anything she could do. He had a point. She was someone who understood the sentimental value of things, and, though she could easily get him a new camera as a replacement, there was nothing she could do about his old one.
So instead, she thought for a moment, then, carefully placing her words together, she said, "Brendon, nothing lasts forever. Your camera would have broken eventually, whether it was because it got smashed by a car, or someone stepped on it, or it even got old and just ran out of life. Everything eventually fades, and just because your camera did, doesn't mean you have to." Paula was mildly impressed with herself for that one, and was even more proud when it seemed to have an affect on Brendon.
He'd picked up his head and sniffed. "Really?"
She nodded. "Yep."
Brendon looked down at his pillow again, then said, "I guess you're right. Could we… could we at least go look for it, then? I remember what street it was on." He said, then rubbed his nose.
Paula rubbed his head affectionately. "Sure thing, buddy. We'll go as soon as Josie wakes up from her nap."
Once Josie was awake, they climbed into the car and drove to the street Brendon dropped his camera on. They drove slowly, so as not to miss it, and eventually, Brendon shouted, "Stop!"
He jumped out of the car, and knelt down beside a very destroyed piece of plastic and metal. His eyes watered a little to see his prize possession is such a state of disrepair, but he cradled it in his arms, and held on to it all the way back home.
When he got there, he found an empty shoebox in his room, and put the remains of his camera in it. He then taped the box very firmly shut, then carried it into the basement. He grabbed the stepstool from the closet, and got to the very top step. He placed the makeshift coffin on the very top shelf of his bookcase full of movies, in the very center.
Once back on the ground, he looked up at it with a small smile on his face. It was worth the effort of looking for it, because the box looked strangely elegant sitting on the top shelf. Elegant and powerful.
Brendon looked at the small shrine with teary eyes, proud of all that he'd accomplished in his eight short years. Proud of all the work they (Jason, Melissa and he)'d done and trials they'd gone through. Every last second that camera had recorded, sitting in a casually messy array under the remains of the very camera that had done it.
Brendon made it a habit to look at that box every day. Not because he enjoyed the pain it inflicted, or the guilt it caused him, but because of the pride he felt every time he cast it a glance.
After that, Brendon never made another movie. Not because he refused to work with any other camera, it wasn't because of that. It was because it just ceased to become a part of his life. He moved on. And even ten years later, when he was in college, and on his way to getting his Bachelor's Degree in English, he hadn't made a movie, or even thought about making a movie.
Just because camera faded didn't mean he did.