the camera.

by Anis Mojgani

The camera could erase all memories the people in front of it shared of one another. The young man in the dark uniform smiled at the young girl beside him.

“Now I won’t have to remember the time we were in the car and I told you I still loved you and you sighed in exasperation. And you wont have to think of the ones before you or of the pictures you found. And we can just ride bicycles to the park. Wipe the crumbs off each others cheeks and lean upon each other without worry of sleep or love or leaving.”

She smiled and nodded, touched his arm.
 The photographer started reading a magazine. The girl suddenly looked perplexed.

“But remember when you taught me to whistle? And the time you came home to your new house and I had already decorated it for you? The basket of stones, the hanging metal airplane? The wooden cowboy painting? Remember when you came to Christmas at my mother’s and while she and my aunt slept down the hall you kissed me for the first time in front of the TV? How we started talking out in the car in that empty bus station parking lot?”

The photographer looked up from his article, "I remember. But remember when you left my place only to sit on the curb around the corner bawling? Remember the ache, the empty?”
“Yes,” she said softly.
He pulled his ear. “Remember the birthday party you threw me? And how you were the one girl that finally got me on a roller coaster?” She laughed. Then stopped.

“Remember when you came over only to end up fighting with one another and afterward we lay next to one another all night like yardsticks and decided to stop seeing each other?”

“Yes but remember how we both felt like such crap the next day over how unhappy we suddenly were that we decided that was silly and got back together?” She paused. “Remember Hawaii?” He smiled. And looked up. She brushed something from his brow. The sun crept through the window. The photographer decided to put some coffee on.

“The winter we first met was so cold. I had no heat, hardly any furniture. You sat next to me on that old, fold-out couch, under blankets you gave to me.” He paused. And continued.
“We would sit there, you would touch my arm, carefully. You thought I was sleeping. I never was. I was always waiting for it to happen. I dont want to forget that.”

He didn't want to cry in front of her, so he put his chin down. She put her arm around him and said, “Rub my hands. Pretend we are sitting on that curb right now, and I can’t get warm. You remember how to do that right?”

He nodded and pulled her close in the photo studio. She sighed. While the two of them sat there, the photographer went to get some milk. The man moved his fingers over the back of the girl's hand, moving them across it like drunken dragonflies, slow dancing with the stillness. The girl curled against him, head to neck, like a dream and a child, and fell asleep like that.

The photographer returned, took a sip from his cup, and turned the page. This always happened.