Photo by Demeter Attila on

Timothy tapped a finger on the fraying arm of his wingback chair. He looked out the bay window into the back yard, filled with small shrubs weighed down by snow. The bird bath looked like a skinny snowman wearing a sun hat. His head turned habitually to the matching wingback across from him. He grimaced and forced his gaze back out the window, but his eyes found their way to that chair with the same inevitability that his mind found its way to Vincent. His name. His face. His absence.

Timothy’s chest heaved, and he took several deep breaths. He counted the fence posts outside while a single tear broke away from the corner of his eye. He jumped up, paced the floor a while, then stopped at the bookshelf. He flipped through one of his books, then another. He crossed the room and leant against the fireplace mantle. Framed photographs were lined across it, and he picked up his favourite one. It was a photo taken facing the water on a long, sandy beach, with a large red and white umbrella stuck in the sand. Two feet could be seen poking out from underneath, and there was a straw sun hat held down by a man’s hand. Timothy was struck by the desire to hold this hand. His stomach clenched hard. He put his weight on the mantle and squeezed his eyes shut. With closed eyes he was teleported to the beach. He could hear Vincent laughing. In the memory, after taking the picture, he had gone to sit down under the umbrella. He’d picked up his beer and took a long swig, but sand had blown inside the bottle and he spit the beer out over his legs and towel. Vincent covered his mouth, but couldn’t hold it in—he burst out laughing. Timothy started laughing too, through his coughing and gagging, which only made Vincent laugh harder. The two of them carried on until they were howling so hard Timothy thought he would stop breathing.

The sound of his own stifled chuckle broke Timothy from the dream. He noticed he was smiling, and the smile grew and grew on his face until his cheeks hurt. His chest relaxed, and he laughed, and sat down with the photo in his hand. He smiled as he began to cry. He smiled as he looked up and imagined Vincent smiling back at him from his worn out chair. And he smiled as he began to recall that day at the beach, from the rising of the sun to the setting, aloud to Vincent’s ghost. Over the years, he spoke to Vincent about every moment they had shared. Those moments—like Vincent—were so much more than memories.

This story is my response to the January 21st prompt, “Write 500 words depicting a change of emotion using detailed body language, facial expression, and/or dialogue.”

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