The Ultimate Picture

The last whole picture I have of her is in my hands; it’s the one I took that summer’s afternoon. We’d parked near the river and walked. Just walked, a time when the days and our lives were both long.

She’s standing to the side of the cinema, bending slightly and then looking up at the camera.

My god, she was lovely.

I pick up the photograph lovingly, staring at the face that peers at me through the veil of time. There’s a slightly faded area at the top, near the right corner where the sun has caught the frame, slicing over the years through the thin glass.

Her eyes were so bright back then, but in the present, as I stare at the photograph, they too have faded, along with our youth and eagerness for the future.

The collage lies to my side, along with cuttings – so many cuttings, parts of photographs in which she appeared, once part of a whole, now lying curling and destroyed on the floor; the important parts saved and ready to be pressed under a pane of clear, new glass.

The scissors are next to me while I hold this final picture, the last one I have of her when we were still courting, before we made a life together.

I sigh, reluctant to damage the photograph, but then lift the scissors, and cut her from the paper, discarding her eyes, her face and her body to the floor with the rest of the detritus, precisely removing her from the happy memory, as she equally neatly excised me from her life almost twenty years ago.

I place the remainder with deliberation, then press it under glass and examine the result: the years with her… without her.

So much has faded, me included.

And as I stare at it, I fade a little more.

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