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Faded Colors

I spread out my mother's dust-filled, leather-bound, two ton photo album on my lap. It was still a fading blue color even after all these years.

The front cover had a gold engraved inscription; "Friends Forever." in cursive writing that shimmered and reflected the dim lighting in the attic. Mama used to tell me that the Queen of England wrote it on the book herself, with real gold and real jewels. That was years ago. All I see now is cheap gold ink, plastic rhinestones, and fading memories of old childhood enchantment.

I slowly opened the cover to the first page. It creaked with a loud "ERRK" and a cloud of dust filled my mouth and clouded my vision. I choked for a moment and rubbed my eyes. I was mildly surprised when my eyes skimmed the first few pictures. I shouldn't have been. Many lazy afternoons I spent pondering the almost alien images before my eyes, sweating out every last drop of liquid in my body. Summer days in Florida were never very forgiving to little girls in stuffy attics. The heat seemed to be the only limitation of the magic that captivated my adolescent years.

The heat is no longer the sole limitation.

I feasted upon the image of my mother, her young, healthy smile, shimmering dark brown hair and eyes like the earth after rainfall. She was pregnant. With me. She was holding hands with a young man I never knew. I could see the departure in his black-brown, stone cold eyes. We never got to meet.

My fingers tenderly touched the worn edges of the pages, feeling along the grooves where my fingers had run along time and time again. Ageless I thought this book was. Woe.

Time too quickly passed marked each photo.

I saw myself. The self I most remember being. The dark haired, petite beauty that I always was. I saw my smile. My childhood smile. The one the world had not yet touched, not with afflictions, not with sadness nor with the pains of the heart that change a child into the painstaking figure of a woman. I was illusionless I didn't see reality, but I didn't deny nor create escape from such evil either. Innocence. Bliss.

The pages seemed to progress without my consent.

I was then almost at an age of acceptance. Glitter-touched lips, sunkissed shoulders, bare legs, colorful eyelids. I was still much too young. My eyes started to show understanding. "Parár," they seemed to sing. "Stop." It hurt my heart, to see myself.

A fair haired toddler debuted alongside my center show. He looked just like his Papa and nothing of that of his own mother. He showed nothing of his Latin roots or southern sunshine. He resembled not any aspects of his elder sister. The blue eyes resembled cut outs of the summer sky, the size of the moon, and always craving attention.

The young boy progressed through years I had gone through on a ten year delay. His story stepped forward in the limelight, portraits of a young South American woman, and a matching father son pair were innumerable. The occasional glimpse of a side staged Latin girl would surface through the perfection, looking dilapidated and pitied, like an old car, too embarrassing to be driven. My fingers trembled as I carefully examined the photos. Informational yellow lettering told the years past, fading as did the happiness.

Bold, confronting lettering telling the same story.

A tragic headline, people torn apart by the loss of kin. The woman and boy were never seen alive. Murder, by her husband. Rumours fly.

The picture on the newspaper was almost stripped of its saturation. Time does not fade sorrow. Time does not kill memories. I see coffins in my mind's eye.

I saw myself again. The body of almost a woman, the mind of a lost teenager. The light was lost from my eyes. I begged for illusions. I found them every way I could. Heat nor law provided limitation for those who seek out redemption from both.

Lips pressed in kisses. Cigarettes. Prom dresses. High school trouble. Drop out papers. Only lust in his eyes. Love in mine. Broken home. Broken heart. Broken girl. I kept filling my photo album.

Real trouble. Bruises. Blood. Tears. Escape. College-aged Latin girl, beat and bloody. I could see my mistrust. First of the Fair haired man, followed by former loves. My tears trickled down onto the photos, causing the places where my tears dropped to discolor. My shaking hands turned the last page.

Dark haired boy my own age held me, smiling. I could see my illusions. I could see the wolf in sheep’s clothing. I could see fear behind the mask. I could see the pain, before it even set in.

I heard sirens outside.

My hand reached for my purse.

I pulled out the only friend that'd ever help me.

I heard heavy, urgent footsteps below, yelling of men.

I aimed it at my head.

I waited patiently.

I hoped they wanted to see fireworks.

----

I opened the old cardboard box. My fingers touch my mother's blue photo album. It had faded a great deal in its life, holding now only a faint, brown-grey color. The photos inside are still eerily vivid, after all the years. I do not wish to revisit through the photos. I’d only ever laid eyes upon them once. I saw my grandmother, for the first time.

I do not care for the book. Only the last page. I take a deep breath in the hot attic as I flip to the back, noticing the air becoming increasingly stuffy, as if there were four people instead of myself.

I trace the shapes of the young couple, embraced with smiling faces. They look so happy. The man looked genuine and in love. The woman was pregnant. And distant.

I could see departure in her eyes.

I trace the blood stains surrounding the photo.

I never knew them.

She took both their lives.

I carry the book downstairs and outside.

I nod at the man staring at me, his fair hair contrasting the dark of my own.

I reach for my purse and find the only enemy that'd ever help me.

My feet carry me into the warm rain that Florida brings to the summer. I am glad to be out of the attic.

I hold the lighter steady, and through tears I set the corner to flames. I watch it burn before me on the grass in my backyard. It takes a long, long time before the whole book is consumed. I watch intently. It falls to ash on the concrete. I walk back inside, tears falling quickly down my face.

I am pregnant.

I kiss my husband. I smile. We are happy. There isn't the slightest hint of departure in his eyes.

I take a photo of us and put it in a brand new blue leather album.

There isn’t a hint of distance in my eyes.

History broken shall not repeat.

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