It's springtime in Paris. It's 1949. Everyone's still recovering from the war. You've come over from America; you're a photographer. You have your camera out today, snapping photographs of people swinging around the city, underneath the bright trees. You spy a couple, and set up your camera. They are unaware that you're there.
There's a moment, as she touches the inside of his wrist, and leans into the air surrounding him, as he laughs at something she says—that's the photo you'd like to have taken. But the moment after it is just as beautiful: he's whispering in her ear, and his hand has snagged the back of her waist, and they're dancing somewhat, this awkward in-tandem shuffle.
You take the photo.
Then they're waltzing down the street, ignoring the strange looks from the passerby. You follow them with your eyes for a moment: the way her hair is bright curls, like a coin, the way he balances on his legs the way other people balance on stilts. A miracle of physics, that one, you think, and then you take a picture of the trees.
She's always loved photographs. Not taking them, no, she's rubbish at that, but looking at them—they're chapters out of people's lives, stolen moments captured forever behind a camera lens. There's a big book of photography that Mom and Dad got her for Christmas; she traces the photos with the tips of her fingers, falls down the sticky fingers of children at a summer picnic, the graceful wing of a bird. There's one photo she loves especially best. Paris, the caption reads. 1949. And underneath that, in smaller print, the title: Love.
When she's grown-up and married, and he's slipping on the ring, for an instant that photograph will flash in her mind's eye: the two of them, just about to dance. The photo-grey curls of the woman, catching the sunlight, and the look on the man's face, as though he's gazing into a bright light.
Love, she'll think, and smile when he kisses her, so he accidentally catches her teeth instead and they have to give it another go.
Sometimes he can't look at her. She'll be laughing, or sometimes it's when she's quiet, reading a book, or working on an ancient puzzle piece from the Caltraxians, and he'll have to look away, just for a moment.
(the brightest of lights)
Then he'll turn towards her, and he'll sit there and look at her for a while. She, becoming aware of the stillness, will look over at him and say, "Sweetie?"
And he'll say, "Nothing, nothing," and sometimes he'll kiss her and sometimes he won't, sometimes he'll just smile at her and go back to what he was doing. They'll sit there in companionable silence, and he'll snatch glimpses of her out of the corner of his eye: the curves of her, the fact of her, sitting there on the sofa, curled up, reading a book, laughing quietly to herself over the funny bits.
He'll sigh, finally, and get up from his work, and take her by the hand. They'll go dancing.