The Photo

The Photo Booth

“They are a bit crumpled and faded, but these are the only ones I have of him”, I said as I took the slip of photos from the dusty shoebox buried deep inside the closet.

“They’re nice. You look happy.”

“I was.”

“What happened?”

“What do you think? He left.”

I sat down on the floor, my back against the wall. He sat beside me, our shoulders touching.

“I don’t think I’ll ever feel that way again”, I say.

 He does not say anything but there is something about the way he smiles when I said that.

“Tell me about him.”

“No”

“Because it would not be fair to me?” he asks.

I stay quiet for a while, not knowing how to explain it to him.

“Because…” I pause.

He looks at me, his eyes gently urging me to go on.

“Because…” I start again.

“…I want to keep him a secret.” I finish.

Not being able to handle his intense gaze, I look down. My hands fidgeting with the hem of my shirt.

“I want to keep him a secret because secrets are precious, they are beautiful, and they are sealed securely within the warm embrace of those who will never give them away.

“I have realised that the world and everyone and everything in it has a funny way of taking all things beautiful and turning them ugly. And I am not ready.”

“Not ready for what?” he asks curiously.

 “Not ready for the world to snatch it away from me.”              

 

I take the photos from his hands. I still remember the day like it happened yesterday.

I remember everything.

How warm his hands felt on the edge of my collar bone;

His goofy smile; which wasn’t a sexy smile or the type of smile that made your stomach drop; it was the kind of smile that made you believe that everything will be alright.

I remember his eyes; those mischievous brown eyes that held the kind of warmth you would not find even in the warmest fireplace.

I remember his hugs.

You know when you go to bed on the hottest night of the summer, a night so hot you can’t even wear a t-shirt and you sleep on top of the sheets rather than under, although try to sleep is more accurate. And then at some point, late at night, maybe just before dawn, the heat at last breaks and turns into cool and when you momentarily wake up, you find that you’re almost chilly, and in your sleepy, half-consciousness, you reach over and pull the sheet around you and just that thin flimsy sheet makes it warm enough and you drift back into a deep sleep- that warm feeling you get, the feeling of being safe in the world- that was what his hugs felt like; that was what he felt like.

He looked at me like he was reading my mind. And I think he really was because he got that look in his eyes; like he understood everything I did not say.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, he asks but it sounds more like a statement, “You were in love”

I replied after a beat. “No, it was not love. But it was something.”

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