[Pulled this from my creative writing vault, dusted it off and decided to share.]
Kip drank his coffee in bed, again, as he read The Old Man and the Sea, again. Leslie hated that book, just like she hated the dried rings of coffee found without fail on the bedside table. “You know how it ends; why not read something new?” she’d say. She used to drink coffee at their kitchen table as she read the morning newspaper. She probably still did, read the newspaper that is. Boxes of takeout and weekly coupon ads were the only thing occupying the table these days.
When the caffeine started to tingle in his limbs, Kip rolled out of bed and ambled towards the bathroom in the dark. Leslie’s smile mocked him from the pictures on every wall of his apartment, but he was used to ignoring her. Looking himself over in the dingy bathroom light, Kip briefly thought about shaving, but it had been a windy, rainy winter and he did not want to head out with a bare face.
With a knit hat over his bed head and facial hair intact, Kip dug an old jacket out of the back of his closet. A roll of film fell out of one of the pockets as he threw the jacket over his broad shoulders. Kip picked it up and took it into his darkroom, distracted by the potential the film had to offer. The low tide could wait.
In the red glow of his safelight, Kip recognized his and Leslie’s smiling faces as the photos developed. It was hard to ignore Leslie now, as each photo revealed yet another memory. The time they went to the boardwalk, ate popcorn on the bench by the Ferris wheel and made up funny stories about the tourists they saw. The road trip down the coast to visit Leslie’s sister and her new baby.
Kip reached a hand back into his pocket and it closed around something smooth like a stone. He pulled it out, remembering his last birthday gift to Leslie. The amber bauble, representing one frozen moment, felt warm in the palm of his hand. Kip let the amber fall out of his hand and onto the floor. It cracked, exposing the fossilized leaf in the middle. Kip smiled as he opened the door and the outside light poured in.