Chapter 1

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"So this is what a real bus smells like," thought Clara as she mentally untangled the rat's nest of hair dangling from the girl in front of her. She looked a little older – seventeen, maybe eighteen – and she was the only other non-adult on the bus. The girl had on an especially pungent type of patchouli, which Clara knew from Jerilyn and her parties. Jerilyn – how many times per hour did that name pop into her head? The aroma gave Clara a flashback that only lasted until the body odor of a skinny older man passing by in the aisle assaulted her. "Patchouli, b.o., and gas fumes are the scent palette of the day? Lovely."

As she watched the passing landscapes – suburbs changing to highways changing to farmlands changing to coastal roadways – Clara remembered a diatribe she'd launched against school buses and buses in general during her Freshman year. It got her laughs from her friends, but that ended when a boy sitting nearby told her she was too judgmental and called her "The Debutante". Even two years later, remembering that moment stung. She tried on the idea for the first time. "Maybe I am too judgmental," she thought, and stopped herself before the next thought could come along to soften the blow. She went back to the promise she'd made herself before leaving – to be open to new things this summer, and to let the experience change her for the better. No more looking down on buses – school or otherwise.

The bus slowed to a stop. Up front, the driver paid the toll before bringing it onto a bridge that didn't look like it could possibly hold all the vehicles crossing it. "We've got to be close now," Clara thought. Then she realized that she'd actually know how close she was to Breach Point if she still had her phone. She thought back to her mother taking her phone away before she left on the trip, and the reason she did it – which led back to Jerilyn.

Clara pulled out her camera for distraction. She smiled as she looked over the familiar scratches on its case and the big ding in the aluminum body. The minor damage made her wonder what her grandfather had been doing when the scrapes first appeared. Clara let herself daydream about him rushing to get an amazing shot of a skydiver, or maybe an avalanche. She knew it couldn't be anything near as dramatic as those things – he was a department store employee who took photos on the side, not a world-traveling photojournalist – but she still liked fantasizing about him having exciting adventures. Clara dragged the tip of her pinkie along the crease of the big ding, happy to have some physical evidence of his existence.

"Is that an AE-1 Programmable?" The man across the aisle was her father's age – maybe even older. He leaned over the sleeping woman between them. Clara hoped it was his wife, seeing the way he nudged her aside and spoke loud enough to wake her.

"Uh..." she stumbled, embarrassed that she had forgotten the exact model. She turned it around and saw "AE-1" etched into the camera's body.

"Yes it is," she said.

"Great camera! I had one of those in college," the man said.

Clara smiled. "I love it."

The man nodded. "I have to say, it's great to see someone your age using a real film camera. You got black and white or color in there?"

"Just black and white," she said.

"You're better off that way," the man said. "It'll take a while to get it processed, though – unless you're doing it yourself..."

The man looked at Clara, pausing for an answer.

"No," she said. "I don't have a darkroom. I'll be sending it out."

The man nodded. Clara thought, "I'm having a conversation with a grown man who's not a relative, teacher, or store employee," before chiding herself for being so sheltered that she'd even give that any notice. She gave the man a polite smile before turning away.

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