Camile had just come back from Iraq. It was so restful to walk down the ordinary streets of Hoverington, Georgia in blue jeans and sneakers not fearing snipers or bombs. Camile is a photographer for the Atlanta Morning Herald, and it was her job to photograph the war in all its aspects. She still shudders at the khaki country where khaki soldiers and civilians blended into a landscape of anxiety and terror. Now she is home and able to return to the dreams she once had. Camile had always been fascinated with old houses and their past residents. As she walked along a crooked sidewalk, broken by the old tree roots from moss-hung trees, she caught a quick glimpse of some white columns about an acre back through tall overgrown brush and bushes. Intrigued, Camile scaled a low picket fence, camera on her shoulders and watching for varmints, worked herself through chigger and mosquito territory. These conditions were as cool water on her face compared with those she had been through. The path spread, and there in front of her were the tall columns of a deserted old mansion with a Georgia History Preservation Group plaque on the front door.
Camile caught her breath, turned the massive brass door knob and stood aghast. She was viewing a room the size of Delaware and on its opposite border, there were curling, carved railings of a staircase to the second floor. At the head of the massive staircase, Camile was awash with sunlight streaming from a glorious stained glass window. The window depicted a lovely golden-haired goddess-like girl dancing among various green leaves and scattered colored flowers. Camile believed instantly that this window was a tribute to a long-forgotten debutante who lived in this house. There was a many yeared layer of dust on the floor and the railings, but to Camile's astonishment it all disappeared. In the corner by the left side of the staircase, she could discern four musicians, one a harpist, one a violinist, a viola player and a cellist. Faintly surrounding her, she was enveloped by The Merry Widow Waltz. In her reverie, there were small-waisted ladies in pastel taffetas, organdy, and lace with cameos or pearls. They were each being led by formally- clad gentlemen, gentle men, and all were smiling, or laughing. A huge crystal chandelier of hundreds of tear droplets was glistening above. And to her right was the golden-haired white organdied young lady from the stained glass window beaming at her beau. Camile came to her senses finally and snapped picture after picture of this magical scene, quietly closed the massive front door and taking pictures of the outside on her way, scruffled back to the walk.
At home in her studio, Camile rushed to develop her day's "take." In the dark room where she liked to develop in an old fashioned way, she pulled prints from the fluids and watched her creations appear. One by one she studied them, and tears fell from her eyes, for they were all blurred. Desperately, she decided to enlarge the prints, use a bit of light on them, and see what would happen. She reasoned they were ruined anyway. But No! As Camile waited patiently, the pictures began to clear. They were not the scenes she thought they would be - the dusty old interior of a neglected home. There was the window! There were the dancers! And the musicians, too. Twinkling spots appeared at the top - the chandelier! Chills filled Camile from head to toe. Her imagination was on her photographs!
Camile had to quiet herself to absorb what had happened. She closed the dark room door, went to her stove and put her old enamel teapot on for a mug of instant coffee. She still had chocolate cookies her mother had baked to welcome her home. And as she sunk into her couch to sip her coffee, she felt something in her blue jeans pocket. Absent mindedly, Camile reached down and looked at what she had found. It was a crystal teardrop.