Snapshots in Prose - ExcerptsWhen I peer back into my memory, I don't see a golden light. Not sepia, either. And there's no spotlight. I see shadows and shapes and maybe flashes of a face I never recognize. I direct the light, and it's always faint at first. I squint to shape the light, to focus. I am the lens. I see black-and-white grainy images. The past is the blue-gray of dusk and dawn. I never see much color in the beginning.

I'm recalling the images, and as usual, they're still. If they begin to move, I stop them. If I let them walk or run or turn, I'll never be able to focus their faces. And then I'll never see their expressions. If they're moving I see only blurs, figures in a mist. No, it's too soon for that. My mind's eye needs to see the faces first. I need them to be still. That's always the beginning. Again and again.

I refocus. Maddy is running in the surf, but I don't see her face. All I see is her moving shape, so I stop her. I hold her in place. I know who she is, because I decided to remember her. I looked for her. Sometimes she comes to me in a night dream—or when I see someone in the street who looks like her or walks like her. I enjoy that for a while, but this time I'm thinking of her. I want to see her. I have her framed photograph on my bookcase, but it's never so good as my memory.

But it is the beginning, and she's there. She's not clear yet. I stare and she is still. I see the outline of her face. Nothing else. Once again, she's posing for me. I'm the photographer. I recall the image and I'm developing it. I have called her many times before, and she has come. But I need to do this each time. She never remains focused. She always falls back into the shadows. My memory needs my light. But I have to think of her. Only her. If I want to see her again, I have to focus and wait.

Maddy's in front of me now. I can't tell if she's smiling or just staring back. But little by little, the lines become sharper, and I'm beginning to see her face and light eyes. She has short hair. I see no color. Not yet. Once she looks back at me, looks into my eyes, her face becomes more than the face in the framed picture on my bookshelf.

I want her to smile. I want her to be happy. And she is, because I will it. Before she became a memory, I made her sad. I don't want to remember that, so I choose not to. I also made her happy. I want to remember that, so she smiles. For me. She makes me happy. Always.

Now that I see her face, I let her move. We're playing on a beach. We're walking in the park after a snowfall. She's wearing her red beret and high boots. She's laughing. We're holding each other in a hallway. Hers always. I see the side of her face, and her eyes are closed. I don't see my face. I choose never to see it. Only feelings are important. It's the reason I choose to remember her. I want to remember my feelings.

Other times, I see images of loved ones and friends, and then all the others, lost to time and shadows, and I begin to see all their faces. Once I see everyone's face clearly, I'm able to copy my bright memory of them. I don't embellish them with too much color, because I want to be faithful to these snapshots from my past.

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