I have a friend who posts writing exercises where you free write on a topic for ten minutes, then post. He has been encouraging me to write fiction, but I am terrible with fiction. I get stuck on insignificant details, or shift my character too much.
This week's topic was Photos and this is what I wrote:
I look at your photograph, with it's worn and tattered edges and wonder where in the universe you are right now. I wonder about all the days that have passed since I last saw you and where your footsteps have led you in this time. I wonder if I saw you now if your eyes would be the same or if they would see me the same--or would they harden instead of twinkle if they saw me again?
I find it in the back of my wallet, where it's silent presence has held it's careful vigil for all these years. The wallets have changed over time, but your picture has always stayed in that same spot, behind the money on the right. Sometimes, the money was so crammed in there that there was hardly room for you. Other times, I'd go to buy milk (or a bottle of something else) and you'd be the only thing staring back at me when I went to open that worn leather pouch. Over time, you and the smell of leather and old money became synonymous in my mind and I forgot the smell you actually smell like.
I like to think that, somewhere, you have a photograph of me that is equally careworn. Or that, in whatever space you call home, there is a box somewhere with all my letters and maybe a dried petal of a flower picked as we walked. I like to think that, at night while he sleeps, you creak open the closet door and, when your movement does nothing to interrupt the in and out of his sleeping breath, you slip it down from the top of your closet or dig it out from under your shoes and old purses, take it into another room, and stare at me like I stare at you.
Having you in my pocket reminds me that I once had a different life, a different plan. That I once was a different person with a different heart. That there were other lives ahead of me down different paths.
If I walked down a crowded street in a city somewhere, would my elbow brush yours? Would I pause to mutter sorries and would our eyes meet? Would they be the same eyes I've held in the back of my mind all these years or would I even know you? Or would my hardened life lead me to soldier on down the road, never even pausing or looking back?