Laura Cunningham, who I discovered on the internet last week, was filmed and made immortal during a chance visit of the Lumiere brothers to the factory where she worked in 1910. Her eyes, brimming with mischief, turned to the camera and dragged me into her soul before she bent over, consumed by laughter over some incident I will never witness: I searched her face, drawn in by the energy pouring out of her.
She had no way to know that six months later she would be killed in a railway accident! That immutable joy, her raw unconscious beauty would never get to experience old age and all that would be of her was what I could see now. Oh how I wished I could travel through time, touch her arm and say “Do not take that train,” but that would never be.
I played the video obsessively: our lives seem fleeting episodes at best and how clear that was to me as I studied her. I so wanted to say, “No agenda, I love what you feel. I love who you were.”
“No agenda” is my passport to most social interaction: wanting nothing means you can still help an old lady across the road, or ask that girl who catches your eye what made her choose that jacket, or so I hope, or so I fear,
That was my belief as I lay down to sleep that night and drifted into the dream which has since charged my life. Laura came out of nowhere, still dressed in that same long dress now revealed as green, and with eyes shining with recognition saying, “I’ve been waiting for you to see that film for ever. Do you not know you loved me in another life? Do you not know you will love me again? I will be waiting for you at Heaven’s gate. Do not miss the train!” With that she drifted from my gaze leaving me to waken, startled and wondering at her words.
Was it nothing? Was it everything? I had no way of knowing but a longing to be with her filled my heart. I was losing it, I understood, and thought to look out of the window to gain some perspective before my day began. On the gate visible beneath me someone had hung a shawl of identical green to the dress worn by Laura. My privacy is my sanctuary but within its walls I could hear her voice again, saying, “Do not lose your faith in me.”