She stood alone in the dark room, swishing the photo paper in the chemicals, waiting for the image to appear. This place was her escape. Peace always seemed to fill her here. The quiet of the weekend as the building was almost always empty.
The air grew thick and it felt strange. She knew was no longer alone. She looked up as the air around her got heavy. That was when he walked in. She didn’t know him. She had never seen him before, and she never knew his name. But he had a strange presence about himself, he felt familiar, almost as if she had known him in some other life. He said a friendly, quiet hello. Meeting her eyes for only a second before settling into his own task of creating photographs.
Moments that didn’t exist flashed in front of her eyes, dancing, dinners, secret kisses from a time that couldn’t have existed in the distant past.
A glance from across a crowded ballroom, a kiss on the hand. The sounds of a party.
Him brushing the hair from her face to place a delicate kiss on her forehead. Moments locked in a time that could have never existed.
Who was this man? Why did she feel as if she had spent a lifetime already with him when she had never before today seen his face?
She stole glances at him while he developed his own pictures. Quietly trying to watch him as he created his own magical images. Creating and breathing life into his work. Creating his own magic.
Time froze. She would glance up and then back down. She heard the words “I love you.” play in her head as she saw him staring at her with eyes that were full of adoration and passion. They felt like memories. Watching them play in slow motion and yet having these moments pass in a flurry. A future with a man she didn’t know flashing through all their experiences together as if she was living them for the first time.
The curiosity of who he was overwhelmed her. She stood gripping the table that held the photo enlarger as if her life depended upon its stability.
Who was he?
She knew she had no business being curious about him. She had a husband and a family and a life of her own. But why was he so familiar? This strange moment just standing still in time. This mysterious man and this one moment where they didn’t even speak. It lasted forever. And all too soon it was over. He said a simple goodbye, meeting her eyes one more time and walked away. The moment was gone forever and she felt empty of breath and lost. As if she was suddenly grieved over the death of something that she had never really had. But it felt so real, so painful and all at once those moments that had just past before her eyes began to fade.
This is actually a true story. It’s not fiction. I had this moment happened to me when I was in college, developing my own images in the dark room. A mysterious gentleman came in on a weekend when the lab was empty. I had never seen him before. I spent enough time using the lab and assignments as an escape from my real life, that I knew most of the students and staff. Though in that moment, I felt as if I had known him for a lifetime. His face and the way that he sounded with his simple greeting and the simple goodbye. I lived a lifetime with him in that quiet hour in the lab. One that wasn’t real but was full of an entire life of emotions. Happiness, love, passion, sadness, loss and death.
Then all at once, the same way it started, it ended and faded.
There are moments on this earth that we can’t define. They are supernatural in nature and we can never truly explain what happened. Maybe I have an overactive imagination, perhaps my love starved self created this moment in my head. I will never know.