Unnoticed

Dudley stood at the back of the room, unnoticed.

In front of him, seven people – five men, two women – posed for a picture, smiling and happy. He looked at the backs of their heads, looked up at them, from his position.

Height was not usually a problem for Dudley. He had lived with it his whole life, had found ways around it. Things high up on shelves could be reached with a step stool, or, on the worst occasions, asking someone. Usually, though, it meant the less expensive, less wanted things were right at eye level for him. He had the benefit of not being subject to the whims of store managers’ placements. Or less at the whims, at least.

But pictures. Pictures were always an issue. When his friends Carmen and Dorine had their wedding, he made it into exactly two pictures, despite being one of their dearest friends. The day after parties, he rarely had anything to show. Even in school, it had been a problem. Not at first, but by junior high it became difficult.

And now, at work, he stood at the back for the group photo, unnoticed by his manager and to proud to speak up. He waited through a few clicks, then let the team disperse. The photographer was just putting his camera away when he looked up.

“Oh, where did you come from?”

Dudley considered how to respond, settling on, “Regina, originally.”

The photographer laughed. “Are you meant to have a picture taken today, too? What team are you on?”

“The one that just left. It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”

“I don’t mind, I can take one for you. Or if you want, I can take a couple of professional shots and just e-mail them to you.”

Dudley thought about it a moment, then said, “Yeah, sure.”

The photographer gestured to a chair, and started clicking. He had Dudley pose in a few different ways, then said, “Alright, I’ve got some good ones I think. Here,” he handed Dudley a small notebook, “write down your e-mail address, I’ll send these to you by the end of the day.”

“Great. Thanks, uh…”

“Tom.”

“Thanks Tom.”

“You’re welcome, Dudley. Kind of crappy that your team didn’t notice you back there.”

“You get used to it. Thanks again, I’ll see you later.”

The photographer watched as Dudley left, then started packing up his equipment.

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