They sneaked up on her like cats, eyes blazing, claws at the ready, two of them in suits and ties, children dressed as men, stalking another child. All fifteen years of her in the passenger seat of her parents minivan, sunshine of an October Sunday beating down on her pleasantly tanned features. Summer bleached highlights lingering in her blonde hair, and while they closed in, their devious plan about to explode upon her, she started to sleep, an arm slipping to her side, lips parting.
Carefully, keeping the shadows from covering her face, he withdrew the camera from his suit pocket, placed her nose in the center of the image viewer. Silently the camera took one, two, three pictures before she felt their presence and opened one eye. Picture four catching her in a squint that wrinkled her face, aged her.
She feigned anger, then laughed. Everyone laughed, hoping it masked their collective lust.
He looked at the picture now, years later. All three children were grown, each respectively unrespectable as life took turns with each of them, promising everything and delivering nothing. She was still alone, still defiant, still beautiful. He was still in love with the idea of loving her. The third one sold insurance, soulless and awkward.
He drew his finger across her face, remembering a time when possessing this image meant possessing a part of her. She was only memory and even now, looking at recent images, he ignored the years on her face, the aging parents in the same photograph. He could only see the girl, only see one Autumn afternoon when she was willing and present.