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Vignette: Still Life

She had always looked good in pictures.

He had come across a collection of them stowed away in a square tin box he had put on top of the closet, years ago.

She was smiling in this one, a black and white he had taken and developed himself. He remembered putting in the film on the projector and counting from one thousand one to one thousand fifteen for the image to burn into the paper. He would then wash it in chemicals and watch the picture slowly materialize. The picture would go to a tray and taken outside, where he would wait for it to dry. She had kissed him when he presented it to her, thanking him for making her look cute.

Another black and white. This time she was putting food down on a mat they had set for a picnic. She had looked so perfect then – lover, friend, and future wife. He remembered fingering the ring in his pocket, nervous and ill-at-ease. When she asked him what was wrong, he went to one knee then and there, and asked if she could be his wife. She had laughed and hugged him and called him a silly oaf and said that he looked so desperately pathetic and how could she say no to something like that? Then she kissed him, seriously, and said, businesslike, “I always make it a point to always keep my gun clean.”

And so they were wed on a bright and sunny morning in March, and she had never looked more beautiful. The first time people tapped on their glasses she had blushed and laughed and kissed him right in front of everyone, but not before he had taken a picture of her. He had tried to do the same on their honeymoon night, but she frowned and asked if he married his camera or her, and if he wanted, he could book another room and sleep there. He had never put his camera away faster than he had then.

More wedding pictures of her -- hugging his mom; dancing with his dad; comforting a teary-eyed sister; making beso-beso with some ancient-looking aunts; deftly dodging his brother, who was goofing off and trying to steal a kiss.

Not all of them were happy though. As he went through them, there was a snapshot from 2001, of her leaning on a sill, staring out a window. She looked sad, and she was; she had refused to be part of the procession that took her mother’s remains to the cemetery. From her room on the second floor, she had stared -– impassive and unblinking -- at the men load the coffin into the hearse, and the rest of her family who stood behind it, walking with slow, deliberate but unsteady steps as the car eased forward. When she had turned away and looked at him, he had held her as she sobbed tears that she had held back for weeks.

There were more, but he put them all back and closed the tin lid. He hated it but thrived in it, in the avalanche of memories than came crashing down on him -- the expressions and words and kisses; the days, nights, twilights, trysts, promises; the old cafes and old songs and slow dances; the embraces and encouragement; the letters, text messages, old voice recordings and home videos; the tears, laughter, and smiles.


Raein said…
Now you got me curious -- what happened to the girl.

I'd love a guy like that -- one who'll always be taking my pictures :P

Vanity, perhaps? Lol.
Tim said…
Hmm... I really don't know yet. Maybe I'll make it into a whole story one of these days. ^__^

I love taking pictures. Not of myself though. ^_^
Raein said…
Eheh. Taking pictures of one's self is an art :P
Tim said…
Hahaha! I'd rather take pictures of other things. ^_^
Zara said…
Nice. :)

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