by Mike Lee
The light from the lamp illuminated the photos on the wall, obscured by the glass reflections. He knew what they were of–he took them. Photographed them all. Yet they did not belong to him. They were hers.
All of them.
At times, he thought he was taking her soul with each snap of the shutter. Instead, the opposite was true. She was taking his, with every click of the rangefinder, as each composition presented.
After they broke up he searched for his soul. Finding it missing, he suspected she had taken it. The contours of this mass imagined as a Valentine heart in a children’s card. Smooth, pink-red, yet pockmarked with black marks for all his sins.
We are imperfect. He learned this in Sunday Catechism. Afraid he would sin incessantly, he fled the Church at sixteen. Because the more he learned, the more intense his desires were to commit to these feelings.
Then he met Lydia.
She liked her picture taken. This is what she told him. Sin became purity in taking those photographs.
Through the viewfinder he saw beauty. A Haggard She, a queen of legendary lost cities, Lydia as Ayesha, that pillar of fire, an eternal being.
Like Ayesha, Lydia made assumptions that were not true, the second time stepping into the fire was one too many. A heart filled with cruel dangers, with desires deep. Then two hearts divided.
Yet she never really left him. His wall is covered with pictures of her.
He sits cross-legged on the floor staring at them.
He stares at her. Blond, gray eyes, a downturned mouth with blood red lips contrasted against alabaster skin.
Even so, he found her beautiful.
The second time stepping into the fire. When he discovered her danger, he sought her out, contriving an adventure when she was unaware, and discovered her secrets.
Haggard immortal She.
With fire, he purified. But in victory, he regained not his soul.
He stared at the photos and closed his eyes.
With a click, but not that of a camera he found his place immortal. Next to hers. She, Alyesha.
In fire they kiss.
Mike Lee is an editor, photographer and reporter for a trade union newspaper in New York City. His fiction is published in The Airgonaut, The Drabble, Ghost Parachute, Reservoir, The Opiate and others. Website: www.mleephotoart.com. He also blogs for the photography website Focus on the Story.