The photograph is old—black, white and a million shades of grey. The date is written in ballpoint ink on the white frame around the edge of the photo. Apparently that was the way photos were printed back then, with white borders on glossy paper. This good-looking young couple would become parents in about three years but in this picture the glow of newlyweds shines through their eyes.
In the next picture the woman is standing in the doorway holding a baby wrapped in a huge blanket. The bunting covers the entire infant except for the tiny face with narrow eyes and chubby cheeks. Her mouth is a little round dark grey circle. The snow on the ground is on both sides of the steps but the stoop is clear.
On the next page of the small album the man stands next to a smiling little girl on a shiny tricycle. It must be spring time. The grass is a dark grey and the child is wearing a sweater and pants but no coat. The man also wears a sweater with a large diamond pattern on the front. Opposite this one is another picture of the girl in profile with her foot on the pedals of the trike looking toward the woman whose hands are outstretched in a welcoming gesture.
From that page forward, all of the photos include only two people—either the woman and the girl or the man and the girl. Color is introduced in the next pages. The child’s short red hair is highlighted in the sun. It is a little darker than the woman’s long locks. The child is smiling but the woman’s mouth does not look natural. She is posing for the camera.
A story is evolving with each turn of the pages. According to the date on the white border around the photograph the girl is about five years old. She stands next to the woman. They are showing off holiday dresses, looking at the camera. The joy of the season is not evident in their faces.
The child is alone now, sitting on the brown porch steps. In the picture you can see her head resting on her little hands, elbows on knees. She is fatter than in previous shots. Her face is barely visible as she looks down at the steps below her feet.
The final photo in the album is of the smiling woman dressed beautifully. Her red hair is coifed in an upswept style. Her lipstick is a darker shade of red. She poses coquettishly in her fashionable dress and the full shot shows her high heeled shoes with thin straps across the ankles. All of these details are more evident because she is alone. But more disturbingly part of the photograph is missing. The left side was squared off with the white border but the right side of the picture is ragged. The photo has been carefully cut right along the edge of the woman’s silhouette so that the gorgeous, happy expression has been captured but the person who once shared this scene is surgically removed. In the border is written “Patricia’s 30th birthday.”