by David Gianatasio
Before you left I took one last picture. The old Nikon - a cherished heirloom I refused to upgrade or discard, vowing "one day I'll get the hang of this, I swear" - felt especially cold as I worked the focus and tap-tapped the chipped plastic shell with my fingertips. "Make sure you get my good side," you said - a private joke recalling countless fumbled photo attempts: the midnight pool-side party where we met (I cut off your face from the nose down); the holiday in Aspen where I fractured my ankle, though we called that our best vacation ever, since we ended up spending most of it in bed (and your forehead was missing in three separate shots!); your sister's wedding where we whispered vows in each other's ears along with the bride and groom (I forgot to bring the camera). "You don't have a bad side," I answered as always, though in light of your leaving, the words sounded strange and sad. The Nikon sat on a shelf in my new place for a month before I got the film developed. Perhaps it was an illusion, my overwrought mind playing tricks, but when I first held the image I swear I saw my face in place of yours, hair thinner and cheeks more shallow than ever, eyes dry but red and swollen, as if I'd just been crying, and, soon after the shutter closed, would again be unable to deny the tears.
David Gianatasio's Mind Games is available from Word Riot Press. His full 6S catalog is here.