The power went out, and I was home alone. It was the first time anything like that had ever happened to me. I froze; it was completely dark everywhere. The building had gone silent. Time seemed to hold its breath.
Then a noise in the hallway, a shamble. Then another. And now at my door. Which, I was suddenly sure, was unlocked (which was silly, it was always locked). I took three steps right into the end table. The lamp fell and shattered.
You said something then, but I couldn’t make it out. “What,” I said.
“Are. You. All. Right,” you said, in a whisper I could hear right through the door.
“Julie. From next door. Let me in,” you whispered.
I fumbled in the dark with the bolts and the chain.
You slipped in and I shut and locked it again. “Don’t go any farther,” I said.
“Oh,” you said. ”I didn’t want to stay there by myself…”
“I’m glad you didn’t,” I said. It kind of slipped out. Julie, I was thinking. Her name is Julie. “I’m here by myself too.”
“I know. Do you have any candles?”
“Okay then.” You lit a match and held it up between us. It was the first time I’d really seen your face.
The match burned down, and you dropped it, stepped on it.
“Wait, can you do that again?” I said. I backed up, and groped on the shelf for Mom’s camera.
I could feel you waiting in the dark.
“Okay, now do it again.”
You lit the match, and again there you were, all bright eyes and smoky shadow. I pressed the shutter button – and obliterated everything, all the magic, the mystery. I had forgotten about the flash.
You and I, Julie – we didn’t think much of that photo. We had so many “better” ones. I’m not sure when we lost track of it, probably when you died. You arranged for it to be found? How did you know I needed to see you this way again, full circle, so full of life?
Story by Kayelle Eklund