First published in my old notebook February 8, 2014
My daughter exists only here now, trapped in this yellowing photo, her features scarred with fold marks caused by her long imprisonment in my wallet.
The memory of her face hovers at the back of my mind; a vibrant sweetness that I can't ever touch again. This likeness is but a pale reflection of all she was. I hate it for not capturing her essence, but it's all I have now. I cling to it like a lover that I've lost interest in, but daren't give up.
Will I still carry this imitation in my pocket and my heart when it stops conjuring her in my mind? Will I ever forget the perfection of her smile? Will the trust in her eyes fade to a shadow of a dream?
I can't imagine ever casting it aside, even though it just taunts me with my ultimate failure. It will be my personal millstone forever.
I fold the photo back into its tiny, safe square again, hold it to my lips. My fingers grip it tight, pinching like I'm trying to stem blood from a wound. I wish I'd held on to her small hand this tight in that crowd all those years ago.
I wrote this story for the monthly writing competition in the Amazon Kindle Owners group on Goodreads. The theme was "old photos" and the word count limit was 200 words. I was surprised and delighted when it won.