A young woman cradles a one-year-old boy. She is smiling with a wide grin. A young man stands next to her. He's smiling proudly with an impatient toddler in his arms who's clinging to a teddy bear. A black lab is looking to the right, staring at nothing with its mouth wide open, exposing a bright pink tongue. A large red brick house dwarfs the family in the background. This moment, frozen in time with a push of a button from a camera.
She grabs the 5x7 photograph with purpose. Her son is thankful she doesn't need to help eating yet, knowing it will only be a matter of time. Crumpling the photo up, she puts it in her mouth and chews. The thick glossy paper is not easy to break apart on her worn teeth; still, she gnaws on it with the same blank, emotional expression. Her son hands her a glass of water from a spill-proof cup. Using the straw, she sips down some of the liquid and turns the bits of paper into pulp. A faint taste enters her fog-filled mind. The taste of unconditional love, with a hint of optimism and fine notes of suburban America.
A wave of clarity washes over her as she swallows the photograph with one deep gulp. Her eyes which were lucid and unfocused just seconds ago, perk up. Her pupils dilate. Violent tremors shake her hands. Grabbing one of them, her son holds it tight until the shaking subsides. She moves her head and gazes into her son's eyes, something she hasn't done in years.
"You wouldn't remember this, but you are in that photo, too," she says confidently and clearly.
It was September when she and her husband bought the Red Brick House on Ridgeview Terrace. The realtor took the photo right after they got the keys to the place. She was about her age, and while she never liked the relator, she did love the house.
"It wouldn't be hard to convert the upstairs office into another nursery if you're looking to grow," The realtor said after snapping the photo.
The couple smiled at each other, thankful the impromptu photo shoot was over. The kids had missed their afternoon nap, and both parents were surprised that neither had a meltdown mid-way through. Even the dog managed to hold it somewhat together.
"I'm actually six weeks pregnant right now," The Young mother said as her cheeks turned red. "Just learned the other day."
"Wow, you guys never stop," said the realtor.
"No time like the present," chimed in the husband with a hearty Laugh.
"It was a nice house," said the old mother.
"It sure was," said the son fighting back the tears in his eyes as he hands her another photograph.