This photo of Laura, found between the pages of an old book, put there by me what..? Almost twenty years ago? Placed in between pages 180 and 181 of Little, Big, a John Crowley novel.
The page numbers don’t matter, I think. I wasn’t using it for a bookmark, after all.
The photo paper is glossy, and there are two fingerprints revealed in the light, one in the upper right corner, the other in the left. They could both be mine, but I think it’s more likely that there is one that would match my finger, and one that would match hers.
We used film in our cameras back then, and taking a photo was more of a slice of magic than using digital cameras or phones today. There was a feeling of taking a moment of time and placing it under glass that will never be captured again in this modern world.
She would be at most eighteen years old in this photo, which means that I was using my old manual Pentax, my first real camera. I am by no means a camera connoisseur, but a girl never forgets her first camera, so I am certain of the general time we are looking at here in the picture.
She’s got two faces; one stares off to the left of the photo, illuminated by soft window light, her lips full and her eyes blue and focused on something outside the frame that is lost in time forever; the second face is captured in blur, a ghost on the film, as she turned her head fast in my direction before the shutter had finished cycling, while the light was still bouncing off her and through the lens onto the film inside the camera. This second face is how I most remember her, her lips half-parted, her eyes closed, her blond hair curling around the edges of her face.
It’s the ghostly image I want to remember here, not the other.
I haven’t seen Laura since 1994.
Friends are so easy to misplace. They disappear into the fog of forward momentum, leaving no crumbs to follow them by.