Overcast, cloudy pupils stare at scenes in pictures unremembered. Risqué, her daughter says, with a pointed finger at the loose bathing straps and jilted leggy pose. Who took the picture, the family wants to know. It’s black and white, curled, proof of a life torn from the pages of a calendar. She doesn’t know, a half-truth, lies like medication stuck beneath her tongue.
He could have been one of many doors broken at the hinge, where light or dark colors of homes began. He’s not your father or grandfather, just—a pause for breath—a man I loved before.
They sigh, a group troubled by photos devoid of color. She is passed through the ringed and wrinkled hands until she rests between her own translucent fingers. The scene comes to her in a brilliant kaleidoscope as alive as any memory. The water breaks over her toes, the ones she painted the night before so she could curl them in his lap as he drove away toward the motel nestled against the coast.
They laugh because they’ve found the color in the memories of themselves. The man behind the camera, a shadow never named, this was her almost, she wants to shouts. Instead she palms the picture under her thigh, where it waits until they all yawn and stretch, ready for bed.
In her bedroom, where she now sleeps alone, she hides the picture in her nightstand with the rest, the sound of closed doors sighing her to sleep.
Tommy Dean is the author of a flash fiction chapbook entitled Special Like the People on TV from Redbird Chapbooks. A graduate of the Queens University of Charlotte MFA program, he has been previously published in the Watershed Review, Apollo’s Lyre, r.kv.r.y, Boston Literary Magazine, Blue Lake Review, and 5X5.