A shutter clicks. A flashing light. The dragging mechanical sound that spits out a photograph. The image: dark, its blur slowly revealed with time. Only through time.
Your finger leaves the shutter button. Your eyes move from the lens to a face. Eyes to eyes. The lens from the camera is not so different. We stare through filters. Your two fingers pinch the picture, off the camera; lose enough to let the wind shake it, tight enough so it won’t float away, and the weight of the machine feels about the same as your heart in your other hand. Your sleeves are rolled up. It shouldn’t be any other way. Take a deep breath of the salty air and consider yourself lucky that grains of sand don’t enter your nostrils, don’t blind your eyes. Take a step forward, towards her. Her eyes dart from you to the picture. The memory that emerges passing through multiple shades. Your fingers unwilling to let go, your heart in your hand, your hand longing for her.
In the background, the blue sea. Contained and framed in white. Golden sand. The sun shines high. Faces smile. Eyes smile. Hair is blown by wind that stirs up more than feelings. The heat rises, visible, and who you were stares at you from that light.
She is different. Not blonde, brunette. Dark eyes, not blue. Your arm is draped around her shoulders, keeping her close or holding her back. A picture won't tell you what. Stares to distant futures where the sun shines. Not here, though, in the dark. There's still the moonlight. Something to hold on to as life goes by.
You look at the moon outside the window, reflecting that of the memory. Feel her presence behind you. Sitting. Staring. Focused but lost in somewhere that is not here. It never has been. As much as you both have willed it. As much as you both wished it were. Every second that passes erodes you both into being. Separate. Erodes whatever you pretended would bind you. And you know this rope won’t be enough to keep you there. It eventually won’t be something to hold on to. As much as you wished it were.
This picture will be torn in half. The edges, irregular, tracing the path you never dared to walk.
The dark rings around eyes are visible through the grains of the photograph. The pale skin. Dishevelled hair. Though you hold each other, a magnetic field keeps shoulders from touching. Tensions run high. The hair on your arms stands.
It was long ago that the colours had faded. The memory never did. No hairs will stand as long as you stand by the fire. Pace the room. Never get far. Remember every time you tried. Tried and failed. Tried and tested. Whatever you are thinking, it is not enough. And it stopped mattering if raindrops were hitting the window. And it stopped mattering if it was snow, or if it was the wind that made glass shake and shatter. Noises are unbearable if they’re not easily ignored. Looking back, you did your best to replace every instance of that face for a more desirable alternative. The only desirable alternative. The one you’d given up. They both became a two-faced mask of no one you ever wanted. It was of your own doing. The wreckage. The putrefied remains that rotted everything away. She knew. She was always aware. You wondered what made her stay anyway. To be unwanted and to not want. To pretend love couldn’t breed hate. Look at the flames. Edges licking colours. Ashes fall away. If only the melting could occur in your brain. Catch a last glimpse of her celluloid silhouette, reflecting the light as if in its permanence it could move. In that frame
her heaving chest repels you and in your eyes the certainty that there is nothing to hold on to. Nothing to save and no way to save it. The background is lost in the antique quality of the shot. This is not what you want to remember.
You pack. Knowing the weight of the days you are about to embark on. The momentous last weekend. You will head back, straight to the airport, where you will wish her well and farewell. Already feel the strain in your muscles as you hug tightly. The strain in your heart. The imprint that will invariably fade. You don’t know how to follow, and so have chosen to learn to move on. Hope. Hope you know how to move on. How to replace the irreplaceable. Her for her. It shouldn’t make too much of a difference. You are jumping too far ahead. You pack. For the momentous last weekend. The beach awaits to let you make the best memories. The time of your life. The time you are alive. Imagine the touch of her fingers against your skin. The kiss. The sand under your feet. The waves that won’t be carrying her away. Hope. Hope you know how to live those days as if they weren’t endings. Squeeze tighter to make sure there are no seconds left unused. Let your mind wander. Don’t let your mind wander. Make predictions of the future with the same certainty with which you remember the past. How much of this is predisposed. How much of this have you made so. Hope. Hope never dared you to follow. Hope never dared you to chase. The air will be traced by airplanes and you will remain. You will replace the irreplaceable. Don’t think ahead. You pack. Pull the camera out of the bag. Leave the weight of your heart inside of a drawer where no one will find it while you are gone.
The celluloid getting darker by the second. The dragging mechanical sound that sucks a Polaroid in. The flashing light. The click of a shutter. The rope that is not around your neck. The memory that is never taken.