Gnarled, bent fingers held the photo with a certain poignancy that was reflected in her wizened, grey eyes. Eyes that had seen it all: birth, baptism, weddings, anniversaries, a world war and… death. Eyes flooded with a lifetime's worth of memories, row upon row of events, each one stored in the mental archives.
Eyes that had twinkled with joy, as they all danced around the maypole; flashed in pain at the untimely, tragic event; teared in anguish as the tiny coffin was swallowed by the earth; and at the bitter end, stared vacant into the distance, struggling to make sense of it all.
She lifted the photo out of the old storage box. Its 350X350 dimensions were somewhat crumpled, torn at the top right-hand corner. A withered finger traced the ragged edge, moved across the sepia finish, thoughtful and hesitant. Her eyes glazed over at a vague recollection, which gathered in the corner of her mind. It was fragmented, possibly distorted by the passage of time and the unreliability of long term memory. She struggled to hold on to the pieces…
Certain details were indelible, crystal clear.
The air was balmy.
The sky pale blue.
The girls angelic in their white frocks.
Plaited ribbons around the pole were a kaleidoscopic pattern of colours-red, white, green, blue, orange, pink, yellow..
Ribbons twirled and swirled. Round and round. Girls' giggled.
Intertwine the ribbons… retrace your steps… unravel the ribbons.
Intertwine… retrace… unravel. Intertwine… retrace… unravel. On and on. Round and round. Laughing and shouting and screaming…
The old woman's lips moved, slow and soundless- intertwine… retrace… unravel the ribbons- lost in the mantra of that long-forgotten occasion.
Time shifted, hovered, neither here nor there, suspended between two worlds.
The kaleidoscopic ribbons, stark white dresses and sunny blue sky spun… round and round… zoomed out… shrunk into nothingness… was sucked into a vortex and disintegrated.
Her hand trembled.
She gazed at the picture.
It blurred, re-assembled and settled. Her eyes cleared, focused, registered the monochromatic finish. As one-dimensional as a long and drawn out existence spent agonising over the details of that day.
She sighed, returned the photo to its box, closed the lid and placed the container back in its designated spot under the antique chest of drawers.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * This is a fiction piece written in response to the photo prompt. My story is 397 words. Thank you to Shah Warton over at WordsInSync for this beautiful Maypole photo prompt for Challenge No. #1 – The Storyteller Linky Launch prompt. Hop over and check out this awesome new challenge.