| It had been a month since Sandra had been lying on the warm sands of Mazatlan, enjoying a week away from the daily grind of her nine to five job. She was a secretary for a car dealership in Kansas and Mexico was as far as she would ever go in her world travels. She had made sure that the vacation was one she would remember.
She paid the young man behind the counter and he handed her the stack of memories she had made. Thumbing through them she saw the picture Ricardo had taken of her on the zip-line. There was another of Ricardo with his arm wrapped around her waist, their faces off center as he tried to steady the camera with his free hand. Her frizzy brown hair was blowing in the wind and nearly covered his face.
“A part of me you can take back to America” he had told her in his best English. It was probably the longest sentence he had spoken that she understood. She had met Ricardo her first night in Mexico at a cheesy mixer thrown by her hotel. He was from Brazil, in Mexico on business. He had approached her with a tired line, something about her hair being so blonde she reminded him of Barbie. But there was something in his eyes that tore down her normally impenetrable emotional walls. He had dark hair, piercing green eyes and his smile was accentuated by dimples in both cheeks. They spoke for hours about business, American politics, past loves, current lack of love. They never found that awkward moment she was used to; the one where she realizes that the conversation has run dry and her companion had only one thing left on his mind. It was different with Ricardo, he made her feel comfortable.
She quickly flipped through the rest of the pictures seeing glimpses of parasailing and their farewell kiss. Like her vacation, Ricardo couldn’t last forever. There was a sadness inside her that still ached from their goodbye, but her wall was already being rebuilt and it wouldn’t be long until his memory was pushed outside of it.
Suddenly she realized that another photo was peeking around the photo of her last hope at romance. She had already seen all of the pictures she remembered taking and this one didn’t seem to fit. From what she could tell it was a dark picture, there was no hint of the bright Caribbean blue sky.
She slid the picture out and immediately recoiled at the image before her. The photo was wasched out looked like it was taken in a dark room without the flash. In the center was a man, bound to a chair. His chest covered in a crimson red. She couldn’t see his face clearly but she didn’t need to see detail to imagine the look of terror in the eyes; or even worse, a lack of life in them. What she noticed next pushed her emotions from shock to complete and utter horror. She recognized some of the items that were visible at the picture’s edges. The photo of this hostage had been taken in her own garage.
She whipped around and with adrenaline in her step ran to the photo counter. She flung the photo at the clerk. “Where did you get this? Is this a joke?”
The clerk inspected the photo, and quickly handed it back to her. “This photo was on the roll of film I processed for you. It’s your picture so I have no idea what it is supposed to mean.”
She didn’t know what bothered her more, his sarcasm or his lack of response to the content of the picture. She stared at him for a moment almost trying to make sense of the entire situation by finding the answers somewhere in his acne ridden face. She snapped back to reality and ripped the photo from his hands. She was gripped with fear and suddenly felt as though no one could help her, that she was alone in a crazy dream. Her hands shook as she tried to unlock her car door. Thoughts were racing through her head but one question she couldn’t escape. When had this picture been taken? She had just unpacked the camera from her bag this morning. The only time she was really away from it had been when she had taken a shower.
She suddenly felt a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. Had the intruder watched her before he carried out his twisted plan? Why had he chosen her house, and who was this captive that had been brought to be tortured?
A loud screech and the sound of a car horn snapped her out of a trance. She was so focused she didn’t even realize that she had begun driving home and had just run a stop sign. Had it been any other day, her heart might be racing at the near accident but it was already running like a freight train.
She pulled up to her driveway and hesitantly pushed the garage door opener. It seemed to take an eternity to reveal the full scene.
There he was, the man from the photo. But horror gave way to confusion. The man sitting in the chair was Ricardo. He was not bound to the chair at and in his lap he held a bouquet of red roses. She quickly grabbed the photo again and took a closer look. The horrible blood stain she had remembered faded into the romantic red of roses. A flood of emtions washed over her. Anger, embarrassment, and a creepy feeling. But her final emotion felt best. She opened the car door and ran to his open arms. She didn’t have the energy to question him, she didn’t want to yell at him. She was right where she wanted to be and for the first time in her life she felt truly safe.
© Copyright 2009 Ryan Hansen (UN: ryanbgames at Writing.Com).
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