Flash: A photo forever

Photo 120139056 | Chorizo © Bhofack2 | Dreamstime.com

Chorizo sizzles on the stove, while I pinch some thyme and marjoram for chopping. I move the egg bowl aside for the long reach to the windowsill jungle to break off just one more bit of thyme. My phone buzzes indicating an incoming text where I had it stuck on the wall charging. “Bestie!” I shout in joy. “Siri, activate voice to text.”

Morning going well?

“I’m making chorizo breakfast tacos. Want some?”

You know I do! Take a picture.

I tell the phone to take a shot of me as I hold up the sprig I just trimmed in one hand and my chopping knife in the other. A wave of dizziness hits me, and I hear the knife clatter when I grab ahold of the counter. “Ay, Dios.” Pork and spices drench the air while I wait for my vision to clear. I blink rapidly.  A ding, then another, then a third happen as the green bits on the wooden cutting board come back into focus.

When the black clears, I see that my phone had sent my distress cry as a voice to text message. Narcisa responded immediately with:

U ok

What happened?

Come on girl respond.

Another ding comes through, I’m calling.

The phone instantly shows a red and green circle. As it starts vibrating, I tell the phone to answer. “I’m okay, I’m okay.” I say before she even gets a word out. “Just a little dizzy.” I put the sprig on the cutting board and lean over to pick up the knife.

“Again?” Narcisa asks, worry boring through the distance between us. “Emilia, you need to see a doctor about that.”

I puff a breath when I stand straight. “No, it isn’t a problem.”

“Yes, it is girl. You haven’t biked in months, not since the last fall when you hurt your wrist.” My bestie’s voice firms. “You love biking. Whatever this is, is affecting the quality of your life. That is doctor’s time.”

“I’m fine. Really I am.” I laugh as I chop the last bit. The laugh is weak.

“I don’t believe you.”

I turn to toss the fresh herbs into the meat and give it a stir.

“Don’t ignore me.”

“I’m cooking.” I say, twisting around to where the phone hangs. “Give me a sec to make sure this doesn’t burn.”

“Only one.” A pause follows that is barely a pause. “Times up.”

“If you are so worried, why don’t you come on over?” I dare ask her.

We met online a couple of years ago and just clicked. Instant best friends forever soulmates. But we have never met in person, even though the social media tags shows she lives in the same city as me. Narcisa has serious body image issues; there isn’t a picture of her anywhere online, though her video feed is full of puppets used to talk about everything from politics to books she’s read to stories from her retail job. She has this amazing alto voice, and when her mermaid puppet sings, pure goosebumps. I’ve dueted a couple times, spinning my unimpressive soprano against her magic.

“You know, I just might.”

“REALLY!” I jump up and down, excited beyond measure.

“Ouch, no screaming girlie girl.”


“Forgiven.” I can hear the smile in her voice. “Yes, I think everything … I think I’m ready.”

“You are for real.” I whisper. I turn off the flame and set aside the wooden spoon. Crossing the small kitchen in a single step, I pick the phone up and repeat where she can hear me. “Are you for real?”

The silence makes its own statement.

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to.” I fill the air with words.

“No, no, I do want to.” Narcisa responds. “I just … what if you …”

“I will love you no matter what. Fifteen, fifty or five hundred.” I assure her. “You could look like a bulldog for all I care. You are my best friend.”

“Can you take one last picture? Before I come over. I need to know. You know, that you mean it. Just your eyes,” she says, “they have your soul and I want it.”

“No problem.” I say, pulling the camera in for a closeup of my black-brown eyes. After hitting send, I hit the floor with another round of dizzy. I can’t make a sound.

“Be over in five. Don’t go dying on me before then girlie girl.”

(words 743, first published 11/5/2023)

I want your photograph Series

  1. A photo for now (7/9/2023)
  2. A photo forever (11/5/2023)

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