Sierra tapped the shutter button and her phone made a 'click' sound.
"That's a really good one!" she said, and the group broke apart after taking turns looking at the resulting photograph. Then most of them simply drifted off to other parts of the party.
"Some cultures used to believe that photographs would steal a person's soul," Amiran said smiling.
"Did they? I thought that was just a condescending myth," Sierra responded with a smirk.
"Oh, it's not a myth," he said with a wide grin.
He leaned back on the bar and crossed his arms.
"No, seriously. There's still some people who do, but mostly it was just because those people didn't understand how photographs worked. Like, that they were being copied or something."
"I wonder where they thought the soul would go to."
"Maybe into the camera itself, maybe not. Who knows, there's not a lot of trustworthy information about it," Amiran said, shrugging.
"And how do you know so much about it?" she said with a teasing grin.
"Ha, well, me and my friends were talking about it a while ago and it came up. I googled it a bit and after some articles, I figured I was an expert."
Sierra laughed and poured herself another vodka.
"So, mister expert, do you think cameras steal souls?"
"Well, there's another question we've got to answer first. Do souls even exist?"
"I'm not religious, so I wouldn't know."
"But if you had to make a call, right now, whether it's more likely they do or do not, what would you say?"
She thought for a second, mulling it over. She shook her head.
"I don't know. But if I had to go with my gut feeling, I don't think the soul is a thing. It's not something that can really exist as a thing. It's more like... A spark or something. A combination of chemicals and electrical signals that form a coherent -- mostly -- whole, the personality."
He raised his eyebrows and nodded in approval.
"Good answer. So what you're saying is that the soul does exist, in a sense, but it's just not this waft of spiritual energy we so often see?"
"Kinda? Like I said, I don't really know."
"Well, if that's the definition of a soul, then I think I can say that cameras have never stolen souls."
"I guess not."
He held out his arm and she passed him the bottle of vodka.
"But, let's look at it differently. What if the soul is something that makes a person human. There's religions that say only humans have souls, and that by losing your soul, you would, in effect, become no more than an animal."
"Okay, I've heard that before."
"So if a camera were to take your soul, your humanity would be stolen. In some cases, this would prevent you from even getting the opportunity of going to either heaven or hell."
"So, are you religious?"
"I am, but I promise you I won't try to convert you," he said as he smiled and raised his glass.
They clinked their glasses together and she smiled.
"So, if the soul is important in that sense, and it is stolen, this would be bad," Amiran continued.
He took a sip of his vodka and cringed a bit.
"So I think I can say that religious affinity here in the West is at an all-time low?"
"Yeah, that's probably true."
"And I think I can also rightly say that almost everyone in the West has been photographed."
"Hm, yeah, I... Hm."
He raised a single eyebrow.
"Someone without a soul would not have a connection with God, would they?"
"You're freaking me out a little, Amiran."
"Haha, sorry. Didn't mean to."
They went quiet. Not in an uncomfortable sense, but Amiran was looking into the party crowd and Sierra looked like she was thinking about something.
She pulled out her phone, opened the photo app and deleted the pictures she'd taken that night.