Friday, 15 September 2017

#fridayflash: Snapshots

It's his favourite photograph: Daniella laughing in the rain and him splashing towards her with a yellow slicker. His sister Livvy had caught it from the front porch, whilst yelling that he'd catch his death of cold and shouldn't he have another so they'd be a matching pair? He'd snorted and told her to shut up as he approached the love of his life cautiously, as if she were a wild horse ready to shy away at any moment. Daniella hadn't shied. She'd dropped her button nose from its skyward direction to point directly at his chest. Her mouth had widened even further and his heart—oh his heart tumbled and was trampled beneath wild hooves—stopped for a beat, two, three. And then it raced as she grabbed his arm and they danced in the rain until she was shivering.

She's sitting by him now, face buried in her hands—all tense lines and taut muscles—and if Livvy were here, she’d have taken that shot.

"I'll be fine," he says. It's a grunt, a groan, and Daniella's head shoots up.

"Sunny…"

"I'll be fine."

"You've broken—"

"Nothing I haven't broken before."

"Not all at the same time!"

Sunny closes his eyes. She's right.

Back then, he'd held the slicker over their heads as they dashed back to the house—what for? They were both already soaking wet, but it was The Thing To Do—and Livvy had caught that too, Daniella's boisterous grin and his shyly smitten smile a study in contrasts. It's like something for an advert, except neither of their clothes are Insta-worthy. He's still astounded at how good they looked together, and if it weren't for his tattered shirt and ragged jeans, maybe it would be perfect.

Daniella shifts. "Livvy's on her way."

"No. She's not to come."

"She insists."

"She can't just give up that photography project—"

"You're her only brother! You can't expect—"

"—do you know how hard it is to get an—"

"—her to stay away when you might—"

"Art grant?"

"Die?"

The silence is too awful, too empty, between them.

#

The light is streaming in, golden and warm. Inviting. Like love, enveloping her frigid spaces, telling her to come. Come in. Come sit with me awhile. We'll curl up in the sun like cats; languidly. Daniella takes a step forward. The light strikes her face and she looks up. Out.

It isn't supposed to be warm today. It's supposed to be cold, dreary. There are rain clouds in the sky. They've been there all morning, but now it's noon and the sun has broken through. It strikes his face and she looks down.

How can the sun shine when it's dead?

#

Livvy's hands clench around her camera. Daniella's head is bowed over the coffin, her fingers splayed on the space over his chest. She's spent years documenting her brother's life in snapshots and this—an utter invasion of privacy, of grief, of pain—would be the crowning glory of her collection. But she can't. She drops her hands and steps into the room. Daniella turns and the look on her face makes Livvy's fingers itch. She won't.

Daniella flings her arms around her, the awkward bulk of the camera pressing between their ribs like the invasion it has always been. Neither had complained, yet Livvy carries her own guilt.

"I'm sorry," she whispers.

Daniella stares at her.

"What can I do to help?"

"You're his sister—"

"You're his widow." She can't stand around and accept condolences. She'd go crazy.

Her sister-in-law hesitates, her eyes flicking to the camera. "I don't want to—"

"I don't mind taking photos," Livvy interrupts, "if you don't mind the intrusion."

"I don't."

Daniella is standing again by his coffin and Livvy is backing away, fingers tense. There is light and symmetry and grief and beauty, so much beauty—a life made up of snapshots; moments in time preserved. Daniella's tears are the pain Livvy cannot express, so she takes another photograph in her endless quest to document what it means to live, love, and now, grieve.

---

Something from the recent-rejection pile.

Oh well.

Enjoy!

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