Even as he sat there looking at her, her arms thrown herky-jerky over her head, her legs up so high her dress slipped down her thighs, even sitting there admiring her, he knew he should have taken a picture of her, of that moment.
Then someone else showed up and she stood up and hugs were passed around and the moment was over and for the rest of the afternoon he hardly saw her.
The next day they drove down to San Antonio. She wanted to see the Alamo. He’d tried to tell her it was a joke, that there was nothing there to see, he tried to prepare her for the disappointment, but she didn’t care. She wanted to see the Alamo and then walk along the River Walk and eat over-priced, underseasoned food. Drink drinks that were too sweet. Watch the families walking along the river pushing their strollers, wrangling their kids.
After the Alamo, she bought him a tank-top. It was light blue. On the front, above a faint, light-pink image of Texas and some palm trees and the Texas flag, written in rainbow graffiti was, Texas Native, and then, in script underneath all of that, If you ain’t one, you be wishin’ you was. She made him wear it over his regular shirt for the rest of the day and at first he was self-conscious about it and then later, much later, he saw himself in the mirror and was surprised it was there, surprised that he had forgotten all about it.
Then they walked around the River Walk and he bought her some cheesecake. Later, he bought her a margarita.
The whole day, though, he kept thinking back to that moment. He kept thinking back to how he wished he’d taken that picture before everything went wrong.
It had been a perfect moment. Or even if the moment hadn’t been perfect itself, it would have looked like a perfect moment, and those, even those are hard to come by. But now it was too late and everything was going to go wrong and he would have missed it, his opportunity to document a rightness in it all.
He looked at her sitting across from him drinking her margarita. Nothing about that looked right. Her straw, even her straw, the way it was pinched between her lips, the way she didn’t use her hands to hold it or the glass, how her hands were held somewhere under the table, in her lap or at her side, just hanging at her side. That looked awful, just awful.
He felt the urge to stand up. To stand up and walk around to her side of the table and put her hands in place, reposition her hands, place them on the table at least, but best to have one holding the glass, the other holding the straw, held four, maybe five inches from her face, her lips pouting as if she was about to take a sip or had just taken a sip. He wanted to set her right, put her back into some kind of right, good position, just to see it, another perfect moment, even though he didn’t have his camera, even though it wouldn’t matter, even though he would he would do all that work only to lose it in a second.
Story by Manuel Gonzales
Photo by Emily Raw