|A Tortured Mind
He holds an old, battered photograph between his fingers, staring into it with a deep, yearning sense of longing. It was a tiny thing, one meant for a wallet, but he didn’t have one of those anymore. What was the point of one when you had nothing to put in it except a single photograph from an old, half forgotten past? And oh how it tears at his heart whenever he gazes upon it, but he just can’t help himself. He begins to shake slightly, not from the cold but from the emotions that had been carefully bottled away over the years, emotions that were threatening to burst out now. He can’t let that happen again, not again. He must control himself, get rid of it now, maybe the pain will go with it.
With an unsteady hand, he moves the photo closer into the dim light streaming in from the streetlights outside the alleyway. He strains his eyes, not sure of what he is hoping to find. With one finger, he carefully caresses it, reminiscing about the past, as if trying to reach in and go back. He begins wishing for things that could never be again, that he could change it, but he stops himself. He tries to convince himself that its better this way, that they don’t need what he has become, not after what he did. Flashes of memory arise unbidden, full of happiness and full of pain, but he forces them back down.
He slumps against the alleyway wall, still staring into the photograph. He is tired, so tired. Tired of remembering the past, tired of wishing for what cannot be, and for mourning over what is. If only he could change it. If only he could go back. It hurts so much, the pain of knowing you could never make up for such a mistake. He shivers, and pulls his once fine coat around him. He remembers a time when he had a house, when he had food on the table and a safe place to sleep. But here he was now, crawling in alleyways, looking for a dark corner to slink away to hide from the fate he had conspired. He can’t keep running forever. He feels so old, so weary.
The man lies down, carefully moving about so the photograph isn’t crushed. A breeze rises up through the alley, threatening to rip the photograph from his fingers. He stares at the fluttering picture and again considers letting it go. To be rid of the pain, the memories, just by opening his fingers. Start again, and not live walking in the past. His hand twitches. Imagine that. Free. He watches the photograph a bit more, and then carefully pulls it close to him, shielding it from the wind. No, he will never be free of the pain and the memories. They live inside him, and he will never escape them, never escape the past. He slowly places it into one of his more intact pockets, making sure it can’t fall out.
Once again, he pulls the coat closer to himself, acutely aware of that last bit from a time before resting in his pocket. With those emotions carefully bottled up, he soon slips into a restless slumber, resigning himself to the haunted sleep of his tortured mind, with one hand over his coat pocket. A fragment of what once had been. His most precious.