Contest runner up- A Portrait of a Lost Photo

Contest runner up, Ashwin Yogaratnam, reminisces on past love along with a polaroid.


Staring back with twinkling eyes and the kind of pearly white teeth that you only hear of in stories you read as a child there is a rumpled photograph; a crease in the corner and a blob-ish stain that is either coffee or cola. Little specks of dust dance along its silken surface outlining the part that developed weirdly; the faces are still intact though. I wish I knew where it is. It was a cheap little polaroid camera and a bit chunky and quirky, but at least you didn’t have to wait to get the film developed. A gift for the new year of new memories to be made, a nice start indeed. It had started to snow and the fire in the fireplace was freshly lit with many bits of kindling piled haphazardly on the mantle above. Five pictures were taken in all that day. Three were testers that didn’t develop, one was of me and the other one was… the one. Still a mystery. I’m afraid, but not the only picture taken. Cheap paper valentines like the ones from kindergarten, complete with the requisite Crayola markers, pipe cleaners, and that one type of glitter glue that just got everywhere. The laughing and the bliss of innocence and not knowing; the saccharine naivete of youth. Golden shamrocks splayed across a messy table that reflected a blinding light into the eyes of whomever looked at it. A little too much green that day for my taste, but I was in charge of food, not decor. Or perhaps in May with the noisy poppers and latex balloons. That sleepless night spent trying to inflate them all without waking anyone around. The sweetness of vanilla whipped cream on raspberry cake. Why raspberry I’ll never understand. It wasn’t bad though. And then there was the sunny July five years ago, sitting with an ice cream cone more melted in a cheap paper napkin than in either of our stomachs. Oh has time passed. The Autumn months spent galavanting about crushing leaves and sputtering incomprehensible drivel to those concerned all around. Some looked with disconcerting glares and others more nonchalant. And then there were the ones whose eyes creased at the edges, a friendliness and familiarity as if to say they understood. I can’t tell if it feels like it was yesterday or if it was an eternity ago. December was the worst. Long nights alone in front of a fire, crisping and cracking synchronized to the pattering of rain on the window, yes there was warmth, but I could only see the charred wood, the ashes left behind. A smoke signal to the stars I suppose. Drifting into the beyond. A menagerie of lights and wonders beckoning its call. Here I am though sitting where you left me. One

more piece of kindling left for the fire. Oh well, I digress. And I sit. Camera in hand, gripping with my knuckles white seated patiently. 

A promise. 

To have and to hold, to love and to cherish, to “not be so stressed so often; It’ll all be okay.” Till death do us part. 

I’ll find that photo one day. I know I will. But what I wouldn’t do for a glimpse, an embrace, that smile…