Of Photographs and Flashbacks

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Prologue: (Really, the end – so the Epilogue)

The sun felt so good on her face. She tilted her head back, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. She could actually ‘feel’ the warmth of the sun. Not the actual heat…she didn’t equate warmth with temperature or degrees. She could feel the actual ‘warmth’. It felt like the colour yellow and orange combined, mixed together, and plastered on her soul.

She inhaled yet another deep breath, then a third and opened her eyes. It was a good day today. Yesterday was a bad day. Perhaps tomorrow would be a better day. She had nothing better to do than to compare her days. All she did was pass the time, waiting for the days to come, good or bad, and then live them out as was predetermined, day by day, with each memory measured inch by inch, and each breath inhaled ounce by ounce. The pain was more bearable than usual, which was good. Sometimes the pain poured out of her liter by liter, like her lifeblood passing through her, and when the pain was unbearable, life was almost unbearable.

But it wasn’t so intolerable today. The memories didn’t haunt her today. The pain wasn’t fresh, the wounds weren’t festering. Yes, it was a good day.

The sky was so blue today that it almost made her ache with want. The blue of the sky mixed with the yellow of the sun combined to make a green so full of life that she almost forgot for a moment the reason she was even here at this place. She wanted to strip herself of all her bindings, (metaphorically and superlatively) and start walking until she reached the end of the path, then she would walk farther still until she reached the end of the lane, then she’d be really daring and walk farther and farther until she reached the dense woods. What would she dare to do next?

Oh, how wonderful it would be to be so very courageous once again and to cast aside all unwanted forms of chains and hindrances, to start out at leisurely walk, walk to a canter, canter to a run, run to a sprint, pick up her feet and fly…far away, over the woods, over the rooftops, bypass the towns, to the ocean.

She’d lie upon the shore, thread the sand through her fingertips, throw shells back into the sea and lean her head back on her neck and feel the warm yellow of the sun upon her face and feel the cool blue of the sky against her skin.

Oh, the secret, impulsive wishes that would forever be unfulfilled.

Glancing over to the bench a short distance away, she sees him watching her. He’s always there, on that same bench, the same time of day as she, and though she sometimes reads, or cries, or closes her eyes, he never deviates from his usual, daily ritual. He never does anything but watch her. He never falters. If it rains, he's there. It it’s sunny, like today, he’s there. If no one else was around, he’s there. Even the days that she’s not there, he’s there. Does that make him the stalker or her?

Truthfully, it’s like he’s a thorn in her side, twisting, turning, always reminding her that she’s not alone, and that no matter what, that a ‘once in a while sunny day’ and that a ‘once in a while sun on her face feeling’ was a passing fancy, and not something in which she should become reliant upon. Oh no. He won’t let her become complacent. He won’t let her remain inert. He won’t let her forgive, forget, or falter.

As if she could forget. He’s pressed inside her memory like a photograph or a flashback. His face was imprinted in her skull, along with every single conversation they've ever had and every single moment they've ever shared. She couldn’t forget him if she tried, not that she really wanted to forget him.

Although...she wanted to forget sometimes. He won’t let her. How like him. He always was so arrogant. Always so unrelenting, thinking he knew more than the rest. He always thought he knew what was best for her. Glaring back at him for a change, she dared him in her mind to look her in the eyes this time…come on brave man, look at her, look at her, look at her, look at her, look at her, if you dare. If she chanted it enough times in her mind, he usually did.

Never one to disappoint, his face turned slightly, his eyes went from staring out before him, and he glanced directly into her eyes. The brightness of the blue sky and the brilliance shimmering of the yellow sun could not compare to the striking intensity of his ice-grey stare, or the incredible, vivid radiance of his once handsome face. Of course he stared at her. He always did. But then again, he always would. She knew that. She found comfort in it, if she would only admit it to herself. His eyes had been looking into hers for over sixty years. Why would they stop now?

She turned her eyes from his and remembered a long forgotten memory from the past.

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