I remember this picture.
I was five and you were eight. The book was a fairy tale that you’d read and wanted to share. It was particularly fitting as I was wearing my favourite dress, the one with the ponies on, and the story was about a magical horse and a princess.
We were so close then, practically inseparable and I looked up to my Big Sister, confident you would look out for me, be there for me and keep me safe.
Mum and Dad were alive then.
Mum took the picture with one of those instant cameras, the ones you took the shot, then waited a few minutes before peeling off the film to reveal the image.
So long ago, and so much has changed.
Fate was cruel and against us, suddenly orphaned a few months later, and separated by the authorities as they could not find a placement for us to be together. No aunts, or other living relatives, we were on our own, and I remember how you said it would be alright and we would be able to visit, ring, or write.
You gave me the book to keep. I read it again and again, gradually able to recite it by heart which is just as well as it was taken away being ‘too childish’ for a now teenager.
I hid my dress, terrified they would take that too, and my last physical memory of the two of us.
We never saw each other again. The telephone was restricted, but I wrote. I still have the single reply I received. Such loneliness and pain, though I didn’t understand at the time.
Your new family moved away to another country, but you never got there. Fate was again cruel and took you from me, yet they survived.
Yes, I remember this picture. Taken over fifty years ago now, but you will always be eight, and I weep that I am no longer five.
Written for Sadje’s What do You See 25th April