The Photograph

She keeps a photograph of him hidden in a memory box lovingly carved in wood she buries deep in the back of her closet. What was once just another ordinary photograph, has turned into a token of validation for her, as the years passed her by. The heart-shaped locket carrying the treasured photograph is a reminder of a man and a moment she should have disregarded, and left tucked away in the past. A simple photograph that wonderfully freezes time for her and distances the voices around her whenever she looks at it.

A photograph she tells no-one of but holds to value above all the treasures in the world. She fits in right amongst us, and mostly, she goes unnoticed. There is nothing spectacular, unusual or bizarre about her as she goes about her day-to-day life as any mother and wife would. She invites her friends over for coffee, or she runs her errands just as any other person does. She kisses her man when he leaves for work each morning, and she waves the children goodbye as they rush off to school. If you saw her, you would never know about the photograph that she keeps hidden and buried in a heart-shaped locket in her closet.

You will never know that every once in a while, when she is alone with her thoughts, when nobody calls for her and nobody needs her, she closes her bedroom door, and carefully takes out the locket where that photograph of him is kept under a shroud of secrecy.

The corners of the photograph are beginning to fray, and the aging ink is beginning to fade. There is evidence that the photograph was once torn in resentment or fury, or perhaps while overwhelmed by the shatters of a broken heart. If you turn it over, you will notice how it was then desperately glued and taped back together. You are convinced that the wrinkles and folds on that photograph was because it was once crumpled, and impulsively banished into a waste bin. If you look closely, you will see stains you would swear, are from teardrops that once fell onto it.

She slowly and carefully traces his face with her fingertips, as he looks back at her. She gazes into the eyes that looked back at her a thousand times before. In his eyes, she finds a million stories. Each time she joins him in that photograph, she sees something different. Sometimes, there are stories of pain, suffering and sadness, but at other times, there are stories of uncertainty, confusion, fear, frustration and desperation. Mostly, his eyes let her know of the love there once was for her, and only for her. When her eyes trail down to his mouth, she achingly touches them, and she smiles sadly, as though she can feel them at her fingertips. She can’t stop her bottom lip from quivering, when she remembers how his lips felt against hers, almost a lifetime ago.

She remembers the way they kissed her, and she can once more hear their messages to her heart. Her eyes begin to scrutinize every inch of his face, and when they detect that all-too-familiar dimple around his mouth just below his cheek, she beams when she remembers how he once, laughed from the very hub of his stomach. She can so vividly recall how it would begin with a smile and a frown all at the same time. Then, almost as though a countdown to an explosion begins, he would erupt into a laughter that could silence the entire world, as strangers search for the happiest and most beautiful sound in the biosphere. She pauses when her eyes rests on his hair. She gazes with sadness at his dark, not quite black hair that is wildly blowing in the wind, and she remembers how he used to run his fingers through them when they argued. She can so easily evoke the memory of how he used to sit quietly while deep in thought as his elbows rested on his knees, and twirled a lock of his own hair with his index finger.

For a few moments, that photograph of him reminds her of love. An honest, crazy and mad kind of love she thought, she would know forever. That photograph hidden in a heart-shaped locket is what tells her where and when she was introduced to a kind of love, she never thought she would find. It was a love that trapped her beneath his eyes and kept her from seeing others around her. It is a photograph of a man she knows she will miss for the remainder of her life. A photograph of a place and a time where fairy tales were real, and butterflies lived inside of her. When that photograph quietens her heartache once more, she buries the heart-shaped locked at the deepest part of her cherished memory box.

Her eyes begin to sparkle, and as a lost tear rolls down her cheek, she whispers how her heart misses his. She once again hides her memories, her tears, and her greatest sadness in the darkest corner of her closet before she returns to the chaos of the world around her. There where there are no traces of him or the moment they were once spellbound in. A photograph she clings to. A validation that shows her the proof that he was once real, even though their moment was fleeting. It hands her the evidence she needs to know that he loved her madly, and that their love was once captured and would remain timeless in a heart-shaped locket, ready for her to evoke, whenever she wanted to.

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