New, Part 1 (Shhh!)

Hold the Polaroid picture steady, it is a simple image. You are on the sofa with your arms folded beneath your breasts, your legs stretched out and crossed at the ankle. This could be a holiday photo, your 31st birthday, how relaxed your body language is. But I’m the one to ruin it: standing to your right, my hands on my face, not hiding it, but holding on in a way old sad ladies do when thinking Why me? This is the moment, you without any tears in your eyes and me with no blanket to warm me through the shock, when I left you forever.

Mitch asked me, “So how did you get this, this photograph?” He is holding it now, peering though his black-framed glasses. He is still cute like a boy after all these years, unblemished skin, full pink lips that look wet and smooth despite the single-digit temperatures. He said, “Who took this?”

“I did,” I said. "I mean, I think."

“But you’re here,” and he points, careful not to sully the picture with the oil from his finger. He was a photography major. “Did you have it on a timer? Did you plan this?”

I said, “No. This picture just showed up one day.”

Mitch watched me like a sitcom, his face expressionless. His head moved from side to side as he squeezed his lips between his thumb and forefinger. He said, “This doesn’t make sense. None of it does.”

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