Viv slipped out while he was sleeping. She had left him a note. “Atwood, you know where to find me, unless I find you first.” He was exhausted, but the whiskey on his breath and hunger forced him out of bed. Grabbing Lucy’s leash, “Come on girl, time for a field trip.” Drawn to the thought of coffee and food, he made his way to the coffee shop. Obviously, Lucy was welcome there and given recent events, he was curious. The bell rang on the door as he entered, the place was empty except for the teenager working the counter and a middle aged guy surfing the web. He took a seat near the back, center of the room, perfect worn chair, a tunnel view to the door. As he slowly drank his coffee, he closed his eyes. Jealous of the memories Viv shared with his parents, wishing they would walk through the door. Lucy’s tail began thumping the floor as his meal approached. Like any dog, trolling for a hand out. He was barely done when Lucy started yanking him on the end of her leash. She had always been relentless in her curiosity and being that she had trained him so well, he followed her. She led him to the front of the coffee shop and down the ancient stairs to the basement. Instantly he realized that the lower floors of the old buildings were much more interesting than the upper floors. Where the upper floors had been renovated, this basement was like a time capsule. Items discarded over the years were long forgotten under benches or boxed on shelves. There were old advertisements from the drug store that used to occupy the building, store fixtures, overstocked supplies. The brick work was intricate, including arches that led in to rooms that would have previously housed a coal burning furnace. As he rounded the corner, he found Lucy, sitting next to an old desk, tail thumping, a sloppy dog smile gracing her face. How could he resist this dog, he sat at the desk and affectionately scratched her behind the ears. She relaxed and promptly began to nap, oh to be a dog. He took a closer look at the desk, although dust covered, it was obviously a work of art. He opened the top drawer, the usual, old paper clips, forgotten pencils and half cent stamps. There were three drawers on each side. The right hand drawers were empty except for envelopes that looked about a hundred years old. Upon opening bottom left drawer, he stopped. A larger envelope yellowed with age, faint writing in ancient free flowing ink addressed simply “Atwood”. Elbows resting on his knees, he closed his eyes, overcome with a familiarity he didn’t expect. He recognized the writing, the weight of the parchment; he could feel the pressure in his fingertips as if he were still holding the pen, for the handwriting was his own. Mindlessly, he reopened the top desk drawer and retrieved a tarnished letter opener. With one quick motion he slit the envelope end to end and retrieved the contents.
At first glance the picture looked to be from era that most have forgotten. A large group of people posed at a town celebration, but something was out of place. Closing his eyes, he didn’t have to look any longer to see. He could feel the warmth of the summer sun on his face. The day had been oppressively hot. He remembered watching her every movement. The way the small hairs on the back of her neck were curling in the humid air, her cheeks flushed as she absently swept the back of her hand over her brow.
The memory of the archaic camera flash forced him back to reality. What the hell was going on? The more he remembered the less he understood. Staring at the photograph he wondered if the photographer had looked close enough at the image to see his blurred image didn’t fit in the picture. He probably would have chalked it up to sun spots. Because how else could he explain a man not of his time and space.
But he remembered, he had stood slightly off to the side, his eyes piercing through her, his sunglasses rested on the top of his head, and a tattoo he impulsively acquired in college peeked out from underneath his white t-shirt.
What he instantly remembered was that after the photo she had turned to him and smiled, until someone had yelled across the crowd for her attention, “Marie! We must make our way back home. The guests will be arriving soon!”