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The Boy Who Took Pictures

Sonny had always wanted to be a photographer. So when he heard that a new owner was taking over the old Photography Shop, he rushed over to apply for a part-time job. Mr. Blank was happy to hire him.

"Sure, Sonny, I'll train you to be a photographer. But you'll have to start at the bottom. Here, take this broom and sweep out the back room." The room at the rear of the store looked as though it had not been swept in years.

Dusty crates and boxes were piled in untidy heaps. Sonny carefully dusted and swept. He threw out the empty cartons. But he made a pile of old supplies that he thought could still be used. There was an old tripod with a rickety leg, and a flash lamp with a bent reflector. But most exciting was an old camera.

"Can I have these?" Sonny asked Mr. Blank.

The owner glanced at the, pile. "Sure," he nodded. "Here, I'll give you some film to fit the camera, too."

Sonny took pictures of his mother and his father, his house and the tree in front of it. He photographed his pregnant cat and even that day's copy of the local newspaper. The next day at the shop he developed the films. His eyes opened wide as he looked at the prints. His mother and father and the house looked all right. The print on the newspaper was nice and clear. But the cat had six kittens! And the tree was in bloom -- yet it was only budding when he took the picture.

The next day Sonny's cat gave birth to six kittens. And the day after that, the tree burst into bloom.

When the paper arrived the next evening, it looked strangely, familiar. Sonny went up to his room to get the photo he had taken three days before. It was the same!

Somehow his camera was able to take pictures of the future. Quickly Sonny loaded a new roll of film into the camera. He took pictures of every page of that day's newspaper. He rushed over to the shop to develop the film.

When the prints were dry, the first thing he looked at was the date on the front page. It was a paper from the next week!

Sonny used a magnifying glass to read the whole paper. He noticed an announcement on the Social Page: his cousin Mark was engaged to be married. Sonny stopped by Mark's house on the way home and offered his congratulations.

Mark looked puzzled. "What for?"

"I heard you're engaged to Susan Whitney."

"Who's she? I never heard of her!"

Sonny gave Mark her address but would not say anything more. After he left, Mark couldn't stop thinking about what Sonny had said. Finally he went over to the address his cousin had mentioned and rang the bell. A young woman answered the door. She was beautiful! It was love at first sight. A week later they announced their engagement.

The next time Sonny took pictures of the paper, the prints showed the next day's date. On page 2 he read that a deer was going to be killed on the road near his house at six o'clock that very evening. Sonny looked at his watch. He had just fifteen minutes left.

He raced over to the spot the newspaper mentioned. At just about six o'clock he saw several deer about to cross the road. A car was coming. Sonny waved frantically at the deer, trying to frighten them back into the woods. But instead they raced frantically in all directions. One of the deer leaped out into the road. There was a crash. The car had hit it.

Sonny felt very bad about the deer's death. Apparently he could not change the future, even if he knew about it before it happened. So when he developed the next set of newspaper pictures, he didn't know what to do. A front page headline read: THREE CHILDREN DIE IN FIRE.

What could Sonny do? He couldn't just sit back and let the children die without even trying to save them. He called the Fire Chief and told him there was going to be a fire at 53 Locust Street. The Fire Chief thought Sonny was a crank. When he started asking for more information, Sonny hung up without giving his name. He didn't want to be blamed for the fire when it happened.

On the day the fire was supposed to occur, Sonny stayed out of school. He arrived at the house on Locust Street just in time to see the mother leave for the store. A few minutes later, a young child appeared at the window and started dropping lighted matches. His younger brother and sister watched, giggling.

"Hey!" yelled Sonny. "Don't do that!"

The little boy was startled. He dropped the match he was holding. Flames flashed up the curtains.

Without thinking, Sonny dashed into the house. He grabbed up the youngest child and led the other two safely outside. Then he raced to the firebox on the corner and turned in the alarm.

When the firemen arrived, the house was completely in flames. A few minutes later the mother returned from the store. When she saw the flaming house, she screamed, "My children! My children!" She tried to rush into the house, but the firemen held her back.

That evening the paper appeared with a front-page headline, THREE CHILDREN DIE IN FIRE.

As soon as the paper was safely out, Sonny called the children's mother and told her where to find them. He had kept them hidden for hours, because he knew he could not change the future.

The newspaper story had to appear. Now he smiled as he developed the next roll of films. Sure enough, the next day's newspaper would read: MIRACLE: CHILDREN SAFE.




©1973, 2013 The Silversteins