A Ghost in the Photograph

by This Glass Embrace

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It was winter today when I woke up. The cold had come in overnight. So I dug through a closet full of sweaters, but none of them seemed to fit right. I’ve lost so much weight since you last saw me. My car wouldn’t start until the third try. The windshield coated with frost. My eyes reflected in the rearview mirror, heavy and heavily bloodshot. I’ve lost so much sleep since you last saw me. I drove the ten miles to school in silence; the radio’s been broken for days. And I wondered if you were out there somewhere, enjoying the wind’s winter chill on your face. I’ve lost so much joy since you last saw me. (And they say with time it gets easier…)
This house is a nightmare I can't seem to escape. All shadows and silence; an unattended wake. I'm pacing through hallways where time never breathed; where hours and seconds are just echoes unseen. All the mirrors are blinded and facing the wall. Every time I looked in them it was your face I saw. I've burned all the pictures of you except one. Some things, when they're finished... they can't be undone. The clocks are all flashing their unheeded twelves. I never reset them when the power went out. It's all the same difference, when the time of the day is measured in drinks between asleep and awake. Give me resignation, take these memories away. Give me just one dream where I don't see her face. God, give me anesthesia, make me numb to this world. Give me just one night where I don't miss her. (It's come to this -- Draw breath. Repeat.)
This is finally it. I swear today will be the day. Before the sun sets in the evening, I’ll have told you how I feel. I’ll tell you that I’m crazy for you. That I’m positive beyond a doubt that what we have is the kind of love they make movies about. So just one more time, let me run through my lines… “You and I were meant to be...” (No, that one's too cliché.) “You're the only one I've ever loved...” (Not strictly true, but better.) “You’re the girl of my dreams.” “You mean everything to me.” All these words are so inadequate; they’re nowhere close to what I’ll need to sweep you off your feet. Someone please stop me... it appears I’ve lost control. Every time I open my mouth, these clichés start coming out. There has to be some way to say these words to you without resorting to these oh-so-standard love-song platitudes.
Hold 05:41
The stores are all closed, let's just stay in tonight. Lock the doors, leave the world outside. We've got each other and that's all that we'll ever need. The night is an ocean, its colors so thin. The starlight like silver draped over our skin. So kiss me, my love... tomorrow's a lifetime away. I held you in the dark of my room, and my mouth kept trying to tell you the truth. But the words that I spoke fell and scattered like leaves on the wind. My eyes closed, and in shapes like a dream you were gone, as if you'd never been. Hold me closer tonight, help me chase all these nightmares away… The headlights of cars play a delicate dance across the blank walls and over this bed. But right now, my eyes exist only for you. In a whisper so close to a plea, I asked you, "please, never leave". "Please... stay with me..." You're the light of the moon on a lonely and sleepless night. You're the glass in the mirror, revealing all I've tried to hide. You're the candle that turns all these shapes into shadows so tall. You're the ghost in the picture, the image I can never make out.
I would stand in the cold for hours, just waiting, on the off-chance you'd bother to tear your attention from those ever-so-interesting friends and acquaintances and notice the one that you claimed to love. I would stay up past midnight with my eyes on the phone, waiting for that call you promised over and over. And when the phone never rang and that call never came, I knew better than to wait for an apology. So why is it that all I remember are the days that were perfect? The nights that we spent holding hands to keep warm as we walked? It's the glint of the soft summer sun reflected in your eyes. It's your voice and your face and your presence that haunt my dreams now. How many “I-love-yous” of mine went unanswered? I stopped keeping score of my myriad failures so long ago that it's hard to tell. But don't think I've forgotten the way that it felt. You were always the best at maintaining your silence, just keeping me guessing, with infinite patience until the hum of the phone swelled to a nightmarish buzz and I'd finally speak just to hear someone talk. It’s a pitiful admission, but the truth is fairly plain. I detest you so completely, but love you just the same. It’s a standard situation; we’re just playing out our parts: the pseudo-star-crossed lovers, with their scripted broken hearts.
It’s raining outside, and the clock is all threes. I know you’re awake from the way that you’re breathing. The wind is a ghost screaming under the trees. My eyes are closed tight, still pretending to sleep. You’re crying again, with your face turned away. You stifle your sobs, trying hard not to wake me. When the rain on the glass finally lulls you to sleep, I’ll be staring at the ceiling, trying hard not to think. When sleep closes your eyelids, whose face do you see? Who is it you dream of? Does he still look like me? I’ll wake with the morning, and pretend not to see the tears that have dried overnight on your cheeks. And we’ll face one more day in this half-life we lead, and the white lies in your black eyes that I try to believe. (I still can't sleep.)
I guess it’s safe to say we both knew this would come. So why does it hurt so much to say these words? I counted your steps as you walked through the gate, and heard the last turn your house-key would ever make. How long was your suitcase packed and ready to go before I stumbled across it in the back of our room? How long would it have taken you to work up the nerve, if I hadn’t picked that day to stay home from work? I said, “If you want to go, just go”. Your face blank with surprise. Your lips formed words, but then fell short, as soon as your eyes met mine. I sat there and waited for what felt like days. Not seeing or thinking, just staying awake. I locked all the cabinets in the other room, saying, “you have to stay sober until you see this through”. Then the sound of your footsteps, and the key in the door. Your face bleached so pale, your eyes glued to the floor. Your words died on contact with the poisonous air, so without them you picked up your suitcase and left.
Call it jealousy or selfishness, and you’re probably right, but it makes me feel better to know you’re home alone tonight. It seems I’m not the only one who’s finding it hard to face the day sober... or to face it at all. You were so foolish, so hopelessly naive (as if there were any way to fix this mess that you’ve made). The moment you closed that door, this house breathed its last, and now this room is a coffin... and there’s no going back. Now that song is on the radio... the song we used to sing. “There’s no such thing as chance, baby... this was always meant to be...” But the thing we never realized - that one awful catch - is that just because something was meant to be, doesn’t mean it was meant to last. I’d hate to hear what version of this whole sordid tale you’re relaying to your friends over coffee somewhere. Coffee? Or is it whiskey in that stained glassware mug? Well whatever helps you sleep at night... Don’t worry, love. Your secret’s safe with me. Now honestly, tell me... Can you say the same? (Whatever helps you sleep at night.) When you turn out the lights... When you close those pretty eyes... Whose face do you see? Well I hope it’s still me. And I hope you can’t forget - I’m the best you’ll ever have. This broken face. These bloodshot eyes. These shaking hands. This drunken smile. These sleepless dreams, these waking cries. It ends tonight. It ends tonight.
You ask me if I think that we’ve made a mistake; and I say, “no... I think you did.” But anyway... It’s all much too late for that now. No time for second guessing, and reasonable doubt. Just what are you asking for, honestly? A third second chance? A new beginning? For us to un-say all these things that we’ve said? These choices were yours, it’s too late for regret. “I’m sorry” can’t fix this... If you're really so quick to forget your mistakes, use this as a litany - a helpful refrain. As you're lying awake, just repeat to yourself: "I chose this. This was all my fault." (You knew the stakes, now just lay out your hand.)
There’s a girl that I once knew, and from a room all painted black, she writes a letter full of questions that I can’t answer. And I don’t think that she believes me when I tell her that the past is just a road that can’t be found once you’ve stepped off it. And I say, “It’s just a dream like any other…” “It’s just a memory upon waking…” She asks me, “If love is true, then how is it true that it can end so completely?” “And if love is real, then why can’t this feel the way it did before?” And I say, “Love.... you know that love can never end.” There’s a girl that once was mine; I never thought she wouldn’t be. But time can change even the one thing you’re most sure of. I try to tell her that the past is just a room made out of windows, that you can always see, but you can never reach, no matter how hard you try. It’s just a dream like any other. It’s just a memory upon waking. "If love is true, how can it be true that it can end so completely? And if love is real, why can't we feel the way we did before?" You know that love can never end. And I hope someday that you will understand the reasons why... why I can’t be with you. But please believe me when I say my love was true.
Do you know what day tomorrow will be? One year since the first time you said you loved me. Your fingers were shaking as your hand reached for mine. I've never loved anything more than that first nervous smile. What happened to the one I fell in love with that night? The one there is no trace of in your cold, hopeless eyes? Replaced by a shadow; by an echo or ghost. A careless reflection of someone I once knew. If you want to go... then just say so. But please stop insisting that this was all my fault. The truth is that I’d never planned to leave. But your words weren’t a question, and I’d lost before I could even speak. Are you really so headstrong? Are you really so cruel? So willing to suffer, as long as I’m suffering too? You don’t have to remind me of the mistakes I have made. As if, for one fragile moment, I could ever forget.
As soon as she spoke, he knew something was wrong. Her voice thick with crying, so shaky and raw. He stood in the doorway, still frozen in place; surprise and uncertainty masking his face. Her hand still reaching for the doorbell, she looked up and said, "I didn't know where I was going... I'm sorry... my feet must have carried me here." She took a step forward and fell, he reached out his arms. And in the light from the streetlamps he saw the face he once loved. He saw her face streaked with dirt and with blood... She said, “There's been an accident... Oh God, I'm not feeling too well... and I'm sorry... but I couldn't stop thinking, if this is really it... here, right now... If this is the last time that I close my eyes, I wanted them to look into your eyes just one last time." Then something inside of him broke as he grasped for the phone. In a voice choked with tears he stammered, "It's my girl- ... I mean... my ex- ... she needs help." The telephone slipped through his fingers; he held her in his arms. And he whispered... or he prayed... "Everything's going to be all right." "Please, God... let her be all right…" She said, "Hold me... the room's getting dim…" Then her mouth whispered something he could barely hear. "If I die tonight, please let it be here in your arms." "I'm so sorry..." he gasped through the tears, "Love, I'm sorry... sorry for all of this. But I promise you, I'll never leave you again." And all the way to the hospital room, he held her hand. And spent the next two nights desperately praying from a chair across the room from her bed. On Tuesday she opened her eyes and whispered three words, and he kissed her and whispered them back with a smile. And he breathed a prayer to the sky of soft gratitude… "She's okay... she's alright... thank You..."


For their first full-length, This Glass Embrace balance the ambitious with the accessible. A sweeping, intricate tale of love, substance abuse, and psychological maladjustment, "A Ghost in the Photograph" tells one story from start to finish, but the songs themselves are anything but uniform. Infectious power pop runs up against brooding post-hardcore; acoustic ballads face off against towering epics. Through it all, the lyrics weave a disarmingly honest narrative of a fractured couple faced with an array of private demons. Dishonesty, alcoholism, passive-aggressiveness and a possibly haunted house stagger inexorably towards the grand finale. But for all of this, each song stands on its own two feet. This Arizona quartet have set out to create nothing short of a masterpiece; a grandiose concept album that is also a memorable collection of intelligent rock songs.


released March 27, 2008

Matt LeFevers: vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, piano, mandolin, programming, percussion.
Kenny Rice: electric and acoustic bass.
Zoey LeFevers: drums and backing screams.
Jackie LeFevers: vocals, keyboards, synths, didjeridu.

All songs written by Matt LeFevers. Copyright 2008.


all rights reserved


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