time of your life, live - so that in that wondrous time you shall
not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to
the infinite delight and mystery of it.
Time of Your Life, William Saroyan
a bridge, life. Once you step onto it, get on with the crossing.
Just don't forget to enjoy the view.
liked the spot on his shoulder, the spot where her head rested, where
it perfectly fit, as if it had been created solely to cradle her.
As a young girl she would stand before her bedroom mirror, stretch her
arms high above her head, relax her shoulders, then slowly lower her
arms to the point where they would begin to bend at the elbow. It was
there she would stop. She could feel the soft under flesh of her forearms
resting on his shoulders, her hands placed behind his neck. She told
herself that the man of her dreams, the other half of this life's pairing,
would fit here, like this. She studied her reflection in the mirror.
She looked silly, she thought, her arms suspended in mid-air. It made
her grin, but it did not embarrass her because she knew, she did not
know how she knew but she knew, the great love of her life would fit
The first time she put her arms on his shoulders and her hands came
to rest on the back of his neck, she was instantly eleven years old,
her arms outstretched. Only now there was no mirror, there was only
the flesh of her inner forearms draped along his bare shoulders. She
lowered her arms, her fingers traced his arms, brushed his hands and
then slid around his waist. Her cheek, brushed, nuzzled and came to
rest against his shoulder. It was then she discovered the spot. The
puzzle of her life's dream suddenly seemed so simple, so complete. She
had found the man who had, until that moment, dwelt only in her dreams,
the man whose love and body would entwine with hers until the end of
their days. It was a romance not controllable or avoidable, a romance
of destiny, a love that must be served.
The bell above the door of her photographic studio sang out its greeting.
A tall handsome man in his late thirties hurried in and quickly closed
the door against the January cold. He removed his hat, revealing a wild
shock of golden brown hair.
"Hello, can I get a photograph here?"
"Yes." She stretched the word into one long questioning syllable
before continuing. "Just what sort of photograph did you have in
"Oh." He pulled himself up abruptly, realizing that in his
hurry he had been anything but clear. "A photograph, a portrait,
of me as the subject. Is it possible for you to make one?"
He had moved close now, the oak framed glass counter, containing cameras,
lenses and an assortment of photographic supplies, between them. He
had been walking a good distance, she thought. His cheeks and nose glowed
"Might I suggest you remove your coat and warm yourself here by
the stove." She gestured toward a pot-bellied wood stove that stood
in the portrait taking area of the studio.
The studio area was a separate back room with a high ceiling, allowing
her to hang backdrops for her portraits. The darkroom, where she processed
her photographs, was located at the far end of the room.
"The portrait will look much better if your face becomes accustomed
to the room's temperature."
"My cheeks must be bright red." The soft boyish tone in his
voice and manner pleased her. She smiled a tiny smile.
"Yes, and your nose, too."
"My nose is always the first to go." He confided, then removed
his coat and went directly to the stove.
While she prepared the studio, he explained that he was a writer and
the photograph was for the back flap on the dust cover of his newest
book, the part that says, "About the Author" he said. He also
told her that he hated having his photograph taken because no one ever
made him look like himself. She silently stored this clue and continued
to adjust the lighting. She did not understand his complaint; he possessed
a fine boned, beautifully angular face. She would take a portrait he
would be proud of.
"Would you care to comb your hair?" She asked the question
casually, throwing it away, but indeed hoped he would do something to
tame his wild hair. He studied himself in the mirror she held up before
him, twisted his mouth into several disapproving postures, then instead
of pulling a comb from his pocket, he took his fingers and quickly dashed
them through his hair. He did this twice then said, "That will
be fine. Thank you."
She seated him in a Victorian armchair. He wore a navy blue wool turtleneck
sweater and a chocolate brown houndstooth tweed jacket. She liked his
choice of wardrobe; he understood color and texture. She thought it
likely he knew more about photography than he let on. She also wondered
if his passion and spirit matched his unruly hair. She was not attracted
to him in a sexual manner that first day, but she liked him.
She pulled the finely chiseled bridge of his nose into focus. She followed
his facial features outward to the top of his high forehead and back
to his chin, then from ear to ear. His skin absorbed light beautifully,
was taut, smooth and to her eye, very soft. Then there were his eyes,
calm pools of intensity. "Still waters", she thought to herself.
Peering at his inverted image in the viewfinder of her eight by ten
Deardorff View Camera, she said. "What sort of writer are you?"
His eyes twinkled ever so slightly at her interest and he said simply,
She snapped the shutter. "Okay, finished." she pronounced,
then slid the protective metal slide into the film holder, sealing the
exposed film from external light. She removed the film holder from the
camera and placed it on a nearby table.
"That's it?" He was clearly puzzled. "You're taking only
"But most photographers take nearly a dozen."
"I am not most photographers, Mister..." She held out her
He brought his eyes up to meet hers. His eyes were filled with surprise
and great warmth. The grin that tightened his lips and twisted at their
corners was born of respect.
"Winslow, Coyote Winslow." The soft palm of his hand kissed
hers and his fingers embraced the back of her hand, as one protectively
cradles an infant's head.
"Tess McDonald." She said, "Pleased to meet you."
"Coyote is a rather unusual first name."
"Actually, it's my middle name. Howard C. Winslow is my given name.
The 'C' was my father's little joke." He allowed a light chuckle
to skip through the word father's. "When I was a kid I hated being
teased with the name Howie. So following my father's lead, I chose to
use the name Coyote. Kids don't pick on other kids named Coyote."
A smile washed over his face; the twinkle in his eyes was that of a
mischievous and rather mysterious eight year old boy. Tess smiled. "Are
you sure one photograph will be sufficient?" He offered.
"You did say need only one good portrait, is that not what you
"Yes, I did."
Tess chose not to break the momentary silence, but allowed a small grin
to knead at her lips.
"When shall I expect it to be ready?" He asked.
"Will tomorrow afternoon be soon enough?"
"Good. It will be ready tomorrow afternoon then."
He tossed his scarf around his neck, slipped on his hat cocking it slightly
to the right side, flashed a broad smile, turned and was gone.
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