Illustrated by Allen Forrest
You and I go to this exclusive show at the museum. One interactive exhibit is a camera which will age your image by fifty years. It costs five nonrefundable dollars. It looks like a photo booth narrower than a confessional. I didn’t want to try it but go first. I demand your five dollars, which you give. After five bright snaps of coma the camera is printing a time traveler. What we didn’t know was that a photo collection is pre-programmed to appear as a backdrop, with one image as fill-in background. There I am, 80 years old. The computer program describes my face as an ancient rancher. It’s all there: my dirty Wrangler jeans, work boots, buttoned-to-the-collar work shirt, even my ragged bandana. The program has mistaken my glasses for dark-lensed wind goggles, but the face is mine. Even the hair grown to a tangled wiry silver hanging limp to the shoulders is somehow mine. The Dorothea Lange dust bowl landscape spreads behind me. We both look. I remember sliding it in my wallet. You don’t ask for your money back.