Time holds out her hand to touch me and I knock it away, old photographs spread out on the carpet before me.
I order them: before…and after. Two boxes lie marked and labelled, waiting to be filled.
In the oldest pictures, I notice, we are always smiling. Ever grinning and excited, we hold hands beside a camel in Egypt (when it was still exotic to go to Egypt), and pull silly Flamenco poses beneath an arch of flowers in Spain. And then there’s you…on that beach in…oh where was it now? Who cares? You’re wearing that orange bikini you had in ’73, and despite the sun on the sea and the years, you’re still the only thing shining for miles…
* * *
I open another of the paper wallets and she smiles back at me from an early 80’s matt finish; a 10 x 8. Her eyes still startle me like the first time I saw them, such a beautiful, vivid green, and my heartbeat falters, the way it did the first time I held her. The corners of the picture are rounded, like they used to be back then. It makes the image softer somehow, and I realise, I miss that in the sharper, later ones, when the corners get square again and he starts to appear, sometimes, beside her.
As time goes on and the photos get glossy, the colours get brighter, and it seems they are always together…though I recall it became more difficult ever to catch them so.
The pictures of us have different expressions now…we look tired sometimes, vaguely anxious…the occasional one has us stern or angry…but mostly, we still smile – the biggest, gentlest smiles of joy, and pride…and a love like we’d never known.
These photographs I place in the box I have marked: ‘The Kids’. The others, in the box marked: ‘Us’. Perhaps one day, the kids will want to meet us. For now I look forward to Sunday lunches, and the two sets of green eyes, like their mother’s, that meet mine across the dining table again.