Pulling it out of the battered shoebox in her closet, she lets her eyes scan the dusty image.

It rests in her trembling hands… for the first time, for the last time; it’s hard to tell.

When she has taken in the initial shock, she lets her eyes wander to where they were drawn so strongly in the first place.

She locks in on her desired target, freezing solid.

Her entire face changes. Even her body.

Her toes curl as the pain creeps upwards. Her knees go weak. Her breathing speeds up. Her palms sweat. Her fingers struggle, squeezing harder and harder. Her heart skips a beat as heat rushes through her throbbing veins. Her muscles tense. Her mouth goes dry, forming a timid concrete smile. Her cheeks burn. Her eyes open wider, refusing to blink and miss this moment. Her mind races with her heartbeat. Her hand brushes the dust off the shiny surface of the photograph as she tilts her head to one side, closes her eyes and sighs pleasantly.

Suddenly, she remembers something.

Her eyes snap open. Her body tenses those once relaxed muscles. Her smile fades. Her eyes wince in pain. She bites her lip so hard it bleeds. Her head tilts down. Her heart drops. Her body goes cold, her breath caught in her lungs. Her muscles relax as she accepts the reality of her situation, and remembers what she promised herself she would do.

Her fingers reluctantly let go, and she watches as his photo floats calmly towards the ground, like a leaf departing a tree branch, towards the flame set below it.

It catches immediately.

A tear rolls down her icy cheek, falling directly onto the burning photograph. It forms a pool around his face – the face she had grown to know and love, but never to understand… the face that made her smile, the face she found would easily rip that smile off, the face that would hurt her, the face she learned she could never trust again.

The face – his face – smiles at her, almost mockingly, through the wetness. She squints, looking down at him. The phone rings. She jumps, and looks up. The flame goes out.

Second chances.


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