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“What’s wrong with that photo?” I motion toward the discarded Polaroid on the table.

“You moved your hand, it’s blurred” she says, trying to hold the camera steady, using the back of the chair to support her elbows.

“I was trying to reach my drink. Is this really necessary? I’m sure I haven’t changed that much in a year.”

“It will be two years by the time we see them again, you could be dead by then!”

“I could be dead by the time you’ve taken this damned picture.” My daughter has decided to spend Christmas with her in-laws this year rather than flying down to visit us, something about wanting to see the snow. My wife, of course, has taken this as a personal slight and deliberate attempt to sway the affections of our grandchildren toward the other team.

“Try not to let your smile look so forced, we want them to think we’re enjoying our Christmas without them.”

“It’s October, and you are forcing me to smile” I put emphasis on the ‘are’.

“I have to send it now, Claire told me that when she posted a birthday card to someone in Cambridge, it arrived six weeks later.”

I am seated in front of some decorative chickens, a present that our co-parents in-law bought for us many years ago, and until this evening, resided deep in the under stairs cupboard. There is a familiar ‘click. click whirr’ and the next photo is printed, we both watch as my face slowly appears from the murky brown.

“That will have to do” she places it into a large envelope along with cards and letters from various family members. “I hope it doesn’t get lost in the post”.

Story by Charlie C. Holden

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