Prompt: It's only been an hour
The dry cleaner found the photos in the lining of his jacket, she says, as she places them carefully on the kitchen counter in front of him. There was a rip in the inside pocket, they must have slipped down inside.
A strip of four frames with an unfamiliar wedding date and two names he can’t quite put faces to. Some long-forgotten colleague of his or maybe an old school friend of hers. There were a lot of weddings in those days.
Inside each window he sees himself a decade or so younger with more hair and whiter teeth, wearing the jacket with a rip in the inside pocket. And he sees her, the way she will always be to him. Young and full of anticipation for the world.
They smile with their mouths wide open, eyebrows raised to the sky, their eyes shining with too much champagne. They drape their arms casually around each other's shoulders. She ruffles his hair. He holds a peace sign above her head. When they kiss she looks sideways at the camera, straight into his life.
Are you alright? Ryan? Are you OK?
Anna’s voice knocks gently but persistently at the door of his consciousness and he wishes he could tell her to come back later. He wants more time to remember, and perhaps even to indulge in the alternate reality which had, at one time, almost consumed him like a whale.
He clears his throat and shakes his head, blinking.
Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. Uh, just surprised. I haven’t seen those, I mean her. In a long time.
Anna says she understands, squeezing his upper arm briefly. There is a moment of silence between them, a space for a conversation that neither of them fills, before she walks backwards towards the patio doors, turns and disappears into the afternoon.
He touches the photos lightly with his fingertips. Some days it feels as though it’s only been an hour and sometimes it feels as though she never existed at all.
Sharon Crowther is a freelance journalist and aspiring fiction writer, originally from Scotland and now living in Calgary with her husband and two small children. This is the first piece of fiction she has managed to drag to completion in years - a small accomplishment but one she is feeling pretty proud of!