She came to me every week. A crowd of skinny dark faces parted as I walked to her, alone in the impeccable dark blue suit. Perfect in a thousand other places.
“I love you.”
The smile appeared amidst the heat and dust.
“I know.” She took my hand and led me to the cottage by the sea.
“What about Erica?”
She always asked. In my guilt, she looked at me with a knowingness she never explained and in those moments she held me all the tighter; loved me all the deeper.
I left her in the morning. Took the 13 bus home in thirteen minutes. Up the stairs, the apartment looked the same as ever. And it would never be the same again.
Stared at by faded families of generations past on the mantelpiece, the very frames made me cry for the first time.
I would go back to her later in the day, after a freshen-up and a rest. I took my time to savour the quiet, for I could feel the difference already and I wasn’t sure that I liked it much. Our life, which had been so wonderful, was changed now forever.
I’d need to create other photographs – in new frames – in the times to come.