Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm almost here, now

The picture isn't dated. It's not in black and white, but still, I'm guessing the cameras back then didn't date the pictures it took.
My mother and father sit back to back on a low brick wall, smiling at the camera.

It's 1998, and we're at Fort Canning Country Club.
My mom and dad, my little sister and I, we're all sitting on the same side of the table for the posing of the picture.
We're at table twenty-eight, and the only bottle of sauce is a bottle of Ketchup.
The white, glossy marble table, with it's yellow checkered placemats, has plates with tiny bits of leftover food still on it. The water glasses are almost full.
It's the end of February, which means that it was one of those dinners celebrating both my sister's and my own birthday together, because daddy can't be around for both.
Janice is in a pink sleeveless dress with huge white polka dots on it, sitting on daddy's lap.
I'm leaned close against mommy, with my new t-shirt, a birthday present, held up against my body like I can fool the camera into thinking I'm wearing it.
Our smiles reach our eyes, I don't know if they reach my parents'.

It's Christmas Eve 1998. Daddy's in the middle of the beige two-seat leather sofa with Janice and I leaning against him in our little white dresses. I'm wearing a thin hairband which I remember is a very light, pale green. But it looks like it's white in the photograph. It looks like I match.
There's a picture of my mother in her wedding dress, sitting in a glossy pearly pink frame.
It's on the side table behind us, and my mother is behind the camera.

It's early 1999. February 7th 1999. I'm sitting on daddy's lap in a black and white striped dress with a small tweety bird iron-on patch in the corner. There's a bag of Mrs Field's cookies in my hand.
We're at City hall, right outside Starbucks, and I'm leaned back against my daddy's shoulder, caught in a half laugh-half smile, my eyes in squints.

It's October 1999, and my mother's crying on her birthday.
It's her first birthday after the separation. We surprised her with a chocolate cake and got her to come back home for it.
The camera catches her red eyes and red nose, smiling hard.
I smile harder. I would do anything to bring her back home.

It's November 2004. Janice and I are standing in between Chip & Dale at Florida, Orlando's Disney World.
We've both grown our hair out. I wear mine in a braid and she has hers in a loose ponytail.
We're both so skinny you can see our collarbones.
It's the last picture in which there are four.

I don't know what I'm wishing for anymore.

The stack of photos are placed beside a huge box with my parents' wedding album in it.
It's a deep, gorgeous velvet book, containing the most beautiful pictures.
"I'm giving this to Daddy," I say, placing a collection of Noddy's Christmas Tales beside the huge box.
Mommy smiles at me, "Now it's his turn to read Gayle stories!"
There's a stack of newly printed photographs on my bed, not far off from the stack of old photos I've picked up and put down again.
Abigayle (Gayle for short) is in the first picture, a spitting image of Janice.
It's 2008, Gayle is less than a year old and reaching for the fork in daddy's hand.
The pictures are a couple of centimeters away from each other.

Who knew you could fit an entire world in that tiny space.

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