Precious

I did some flash fiction based off Inktober prompts last year. This is one of the pieces I wrote.

There’s this one picture. It’s faded a bit, grainy. Slightly sticky in the corners.

She’s smiling, looking at the person holding the camera. Her belly is round.

They’re in the mountains somewhere. The whole world behind her is an asymmetry of deep blues and greens, bright sun catching in her dark hair.

She’s very young. Maybe 23. The knees of her jeans have big holes in them.

Her arms are lifted up, wide, encompassing the universe. She looks radiant.

He used to keep it hidden in a book in his locker at school. That’s why he still has it.

She gave it to him when he was a teenager. They’d just had another row about how she was too controlling, she didn’t give him enough space, she didn’t understand what it was to be young.

He’d just wanted to go to a party at one of his basketball teammate’s house. So what if it was on a school night? Everything didn’t have to be about school, and responsibility. He wanted to be a normal teenager, and make out with girls, and forget about his so-called legacy. He wanted to be young.

She’d left him to sulk and fetched the picture from the study. She’d held it up in his face until he took a look at it, puzzled.

She didn’t remember every detail, like where exactly they were. She remembered, though, that she had never been this happy, and this free, up to that point.

She was pregnant with his sister. This was a few months before she became head of the family, burdened both by the grief of losing her mother and taking the lead of a divided dynasty. And the care of an newborn.

This was the last time, she’d said, she’d felt truly young. And, she’d insisted as she pressed the picture in his hands, she’d never forgotten.

He hadn’t either.

A few months later, their house, all of their pictures, his family, his soul, it all burned to ashes.

All he has left of her, is this picture. And the eyes that look back at him in the mirror.