Chapter Two: Memories and Moments

In her modest room, she sat alone on her bed, holding a photo album in both hands, treating it as if it were a cherished textbook.

Despite having closed the door to her room, the soft glow of a dwindling fire in the room’s front allowed her to see the pictures. The fire’s flicker seemed precarious, as if it could vanish at any moment, only to be reignited shortly after. She was accustomed to such interruptions, as the elements often raged outside, with rushing water, gusty winds, and flashes of lightning. So, the fire’s temperamental nature held no surprise for her.

Whenever water was scarce, which was a common occurrence in her home, this young woman found solace in revisiting her past through photographs. She would spend her days in her room, reminiscing over these snapshots that held fragments of her life.

On this particular day, she had been preparing to leave for her workplace at the hospital. Ynx, as she was known, worked daytime shifts, leaving at precisely twelve noon and returning around seven in the evening. However, the unrelenting rain had delayed her departure, forcing her to stay home for nearly an hour longer than usual. Filling the time, she leafed through her photo album, not out of a burning desire to do so, but rather to fill the idle moments.

Delicately turning the pages, she encountered pictures from her past—photos of herself with friends and acquaintances, snapshots capturing bygone years. With each image, she struggled to hold back the flood of memories. Many of these friends had shared her academic journey since high school, and now their whereabouts were a mystery. She wondered if they were still alive or if fate had taken them elsewhere.

What she cherished most in these older photos was the genuine happiness captured in them. Among her circle, she was renowned for her talent in bringing joy to any occasion, often wearing a radiant smile beneath her hijab.

As she delved further into the album, she stumbled upon photos from more recent years, taken in a time of concern and uncertainty. Her posture in these pictures was noticeably different, marked by a subtle sense of unease. Collectively, they hinted at a shifting tide in her life, a feeling she couldn’t escape.

While these photos evoked a sense of nostalgia, they also stirred emotions that occasionally brought her to tears in the solitude of her room, a fact she preferred to keep hidden. Consequently, she approached each image with caution, not wishing to be overwhelmed by the memories they held.

Among the photos, those featuring her and her friends held a special place in her heart. Many of her friends had married, some even multiple times, and while her peers had moved forward, she found herself still at home, awaiting the finalization of her own marriage plans.

Even on this day, as Ynx sat in her room, patiently awaiting the end of the rain, she didn’t allow herself to get lost in the album’s pages. She had only ventured three pages deep, the first of which displayed her high school memories.

She turned back to the beginning and encountered a photograph that held a special place in her heart. It was an image of herself that she had singled out due to its unique charm. Throughout her life, she had taken countless pictures, but none had captured her beauty quite like this one. It was one of over thirty pictures taken from last year to this, all of which she had shared, yet this particular photo remained in her album as a secret treasure, one she vowed never to share or let anyone wash away.

In this photo, she wore a form-fitting red dress that hugged her from waist to chest. Her long neck was gracefully tilted, supported by her hand, while a black winter hat failed to conceal her abundant, cascading hair that brushed against her nape. A glimpse of a white skirt peeked out from below as she knelt, gently patting her knee with her other hand. Her beautiful, tear-like eyes stared intently into the camera. Though she did not smile in the traditional sense, the radiant gleam in her eyes suggested a subtle, almost imperceptible smile, the result of a secret assurance only she knew of—the lotion she had applied before the picture, a year and a half ago.

Every time Ynx revisited this photo, she found herself captivated by it, lingering on its details before reluctantly turning to the next page. Once again, on this day, she found herself lost in its timeless charm.

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