Tom Chambers Photograpy
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by Ernestine Lahey


The Montreal Review, December, 2010




"We had no choice, Mrs. Walker. Your life was in imminent danger. Now, when you're ready, if you want to go over the possibilities - surrogates, adoption - we have a good fertility counsellor in the clinic who'll talk you through your remaining options. I'd strongly advise you both to consider some kind of counselling in any case, to help you get through the weeks ahead. It's our experience that sudden, unexpected loss of fertility such as results from the kind of surgery you've just undergone often causes great emotional trauma in the lives of the couple involved."

Julie was allowed to come home the next day. Michael went to pick her up. In the hospital gift store he bought a shiny helium balloon that said Get Well Soon. When he got to her room, Julie was already dressed and sitting up on the edge of the bed. In her lap was the little duffle bag that was supposed to be for when she would go in to have the baby. Stalks of upside-down flowers were sticking out of the garbage can under the window.

"I got you this," Michael said, too brightly. It was a miscalculation. Julie looked at the balloon with a detached bewilderment.

"It's a relief for you, isn't it?" she said. The quiet incomprehension on her face was worse than any anger.

"Let's talk about it later," Michael said, because he wanted to leave this place where everything between them was broken and dead. Their baby, her womb.

They got in an elevator. On the second floor the doors opened and a nurse got in pushing a sleeping woman in a wheelchair. The doors closed with a ding and they all went down in silence. When the doors opened again they were in the foyer. Michael and Julie waited as the nurse pushed the wheelchair in front of her out of the elevator. She thanked them with a nod.

They went outside to the car. Michael put the duffle bag and the balloon in the back. He helped his wife get into the passenger seat. She held herself tightly, her arms folded in front of her stomach.

They drove in silence. All the way home the balloon turned itself around in small urgent circles against the ceiling of the car.

When they got home Michael helped Julie inside. He got her changed and put her into bed. She stayed there for three days.

On the fourth day they went back to the hospital so Julie could have the stitches out. The doctor said she was coming along fine, no infection, everything looking okay. He reminded them again about the counselling.

On the way home they stopped for some milk and bread. Michael parked the car and went into the store. When he came back Julie was sleeping, her forehead pressed against the window. Michael went to put the groceries on the backseat and that's when he remembered about the balloon. But it had been such a long time, and now it lay empty and crumpled on the floor.



Ernestine Lahey is Canadian based in the Netherlands, where she teaches at a small liberal arts and sciences college and writes in her spare time.


Illustration: "Saccharine Perch" (photomontage) by Tom Chambers.

"Through photomontage I present unspoken stories which illustrate fleeting moments in time and which are intended to evoke a mood in the viewer... Each photomontage is carefully constructed, using both images that have been planned and those that unexpectedly enhance the story. With digital photography I desire to move beyond documentation of the present, and rather seek to merge reality and dreams in musing about possibilities of the future."

-- Tom Chambers

Tom Chambers was raised in the Amish country of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Following life altering experiences of military service during the Vietnam War and travel throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada, Tom completed a B.F.A. in 1985 from Ringling School of Art with an emphasis in graphic design and photography. Since 1998 Tom has devoted himself to photo montage for sharing intriguing unspoken stories about spirituality, personal identity, and co-existence.

Currently, Tom is represented by seven galleries in the United States and Spain. His work has been shown nationally and internationally in Spain and Colombia, as well as in a wide range of print and online publications. Tom has received recognition for his photo montages through a variety of awards, as well as fellowships from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.


Tom Chambers' works can be purchased at CHASE YOUNG GALLERY (450 Harrison Ave, No. 57  Boston   MA   02118, Phone:  617-859-7222).

Chambers' website:


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