Yesterday David showed me a picture of his late wife, Marcia.
His daughter had sent it to him via e-mail.
“That’s Marcia,” he said, “She was in a restaurant in Glasgow, obviously having a very good time.”
The picture was of a blondish woman in her 60s sending a beaming smile across the table. She filled the shot with relaxation and a happy confidence. He looked at the picture for a moment and ever so gently, almost afraid, touched the screen on the computer and traced the lines in Marcia’s neck.
“She didn’t use to have that.” he said. His eye-lids fluttered. He swallowed.
I could see the thickening in her neck that he was speaking of, but wouldn’t have noticed it at all had he not mentioned it.
Of course, I could not see all of what he was looking at that no longer showed in the photograph. I could not see the slenderness of her throat as a young college student, or its strong smoothness as she grew into womanhood or even the moist dampness that smelled so sweetly of love.
I had never seen Marcia then or there or anywhere—I had only seen her frozen in this photograph—a beaming smile in a restaurant in Glasgow.
David wondered aloud later in bed that night as we were drifting off. “Funny, there is a picture of Marcia, right there on the computer—a woman alive and real—and now there’s a box of ashes.”
Earlier that evening he and I had taken a late sunset walk.
Near the corner of our house, a sheet of water left over from the monsoon rains covered the street.
“Look,” I said, “Isn’t that the same place the puddle was last week when you took the picture?”
About five days before he had taken a picture of a street light sending a long shock of color into the water. The lamp post was back lit by an orange colored sunset buried in pewter clouds. I thought about suggesting that he take another picture but I knew the light and color and life he had captured in the first picture could not be duplicated.
I also knew that no matter how much he would have liked to, he would also not be able to capture with his camera that particular light and color and life that was beaming in the picture from Marcia, in the restaurant in Glasgow.
That too, was only there once.
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: courtesy of author
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