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  • Writer's pictureMollye Miller

Ghost work

I've always loved this old film photo I took at my grandmother's house with a ghost passing through it.

I came across it today looking for something else, which is always when we find valuable things...

This is a picture I took on my old Pentax film camera back in 2004 in Coronado, California. It was the summer before I went to Prague on my study abroad for photography.

This is my grandmother's house. I stayed with her to help pack up and sell her house. She’d developed a heartbreaking diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and we all knew she couldn’t live on her own anymore.

This photo shows the guest room where my sister and I would stay whenever we visited.

Outside, through the (overexposed) window here…are grapefruit trees and a small pathway and terracotta pots and the sounds of sprinklers and birdsong. Through the front window, the boat-induced waves in the Coronado bay splash against the pier. Across the water, San Diego’s shiny skyline spreads a thin metropolis over imported sand and palm trees.

But here in this room is the stillness and speechlessness of a place that no longer exists.

This bungalow-style Coronado beachouse built in 1888 got bulldozed in 2006. They crumbled to the ground to make way for a 3-story multi-million dollar home with a view of the water and the Naval base and all the ships and sailboats. I can’t get too sentimental over it thought I did at the time. The cruelty of capitalism, the evil of real estate when it disregards history. I get it though. The views, the money, the problems the house must have had I never knew about. Definitely the wear and tear of 120 years of salt and sun.

But in this particular photo I shot a ghost. It’s Grandmother. It’s Grandad. It's my sister and myself quickly getting under the covers on the pullout couch my parent's had prepped for us while we brushed our teeth.

The truth is, it's a light leak. The door of my camera would open a little when I took photos. I wrapped it tight with a thick orange rubber band. But it would sometimes let a streak of sunlight in. It was my dad’s camera from his college days. I couldn’t afford to get it fixed and figured i'd get a new camera eventually. So I invited ghosts like this one.

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