Lights and Photographs

Keith Sehring, Contributing Writer

I walked to the back of the subway car, my black dress shoes gently slapping the floor with each step I took. My body fell into the seat after a long day of lecturing and grading, both things I am not particularly a fan of. As I gently placed my bag filled with the latest tests of my students on the filthy floor beside my leg, I felt the worn leather brush up against the pant leg of the cheap charcoal grey-colored suit I bought at Macy’s a few weeks ago. I began to drift off as I stared out the window, becoming hypnotized by the passing orange lights as the subway car began to accelerate. Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out my phone and I saw that I had a new voicemail. I went to open it but quickly decided to ignore it, already knowing who it was from. I didn’t want to think about that right now. 

Opening my gallery, I pulled up a picture of Cecilia and myself from high school. I had asked her to the Homecoming dance our sophomore year, and I will never forget the smile on her face when I asked her. I scrolled to the next picture, it was me struggling to put the corsage on her hand, to which she laughed at and helped me. That night I wore my dad’s suit and a navy blue checker patterned clip-on tie to match her dress, and I don’t think either of us have ever laughed harder in our lives than we did at that clip-on tie. I still remember lying on the grass of the football field that night as the stars shone down like spotlights onto our faces and her long wavy brown hair with light blonde streaks was sprawled out covering the blades of grass. We decided to get up and dance as I put on “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran and we swayed back and forth on the windy open field, both of us freezing in the cool October weather. I scrolled through pictures for what felt like an eternity as I continuously ran my hand through my messy brown hair, pushing it off of my forehead as the smell of cheap and dried Axe pomade clung onto my hand. I continued to scroll through picture after picture, and I found myself stopping at a picture we took at the county fair the summer before we both left for college. We both bought matching bucket hats from one of the vendors that was overcharging, but we didn’t care at the time. It was so long ago, memories of a time seemingly long gone. I looked into my leather bag still laying on the floor and pulled out that same bucket hat, all faded, disheveled, and worn out, but holding onto its last grasp of life, still holding all those memories from so many years ago.

I don’t really know why I always kept it with me when I went to work, it just made the rough days seem a little bit brighter when I held onto it. We both went to separate colleges, I went away and she commuted, but whenever I would come home she was always there, waiting for me, and we picked up from where we left off as if no time at all had passed.

As I arrived at the final picture, tears began to stream down my face and drip onto the screen. The last picture we took together was over a year ago with our son on the night of our five-year anniversary. I gently placed my thumb on the screen and rubbed Cecilia’s face before closing my gallery, remembering all the little things we would playfully argue about, all the jokes I teased her about, and all the late night car talks where time just seemed to come to a standstill and nothing else mattered. I looked at my wedding ring, all scratched up and worn, but still holding so much meaning. Through eyes filled with tears, I finally opened up my voicemail and listened to the message I had been dreading to hear. It was from the divorce lawyer asking to meet with me on Thursday.