This was the last photo taken of them before they disappeared.
They had just been married, and the reception was in full swing, and they’d gone outside for a moment in the peaceful night together. Their photographer came out with them to capture the moment, then left them in privacy, so they could commune. He said they were so in love it ws almost to dazzling to see, to be too close to, and so he was almost relieved to give them that time.
“But if I’d stayed,” he said later, “maybe I could have helped them. Maybe whatever happened could have been stopped.”
We told him that no-one knew what and happened, so fretting over might have beens was pointless. They simply disappeared. Of course, most of us expected the worst. We are pragmatic policemen in a pragmatic town. When a young couple disappears on their wedding night, not off to wondrous honeymoon destinations, but into an apparent oblivion, it makes you shudder to guess where they might have gone.
We searched for days for bodies, or for word. We interviewed all the wedding guests, and family members who had not joined the happy throng. No-one knew of anything dark around the edges of their lives, no apparent or imminent danger. All spoke of how blisteringly in love they were, how happy.
“It makes no sense,” they all said, and as a pragmatic man I could do nought but agree.
Over time we developed hypotheses. The worst was that they were taken into some form of captivity. You hear more and more about that these days, modern day slave trades, human trafficking. But that always seemed to be a thing of the cities. It seemed hard to believe it would happen in our small town, and it wasn’t as though anyone else disappeared then or since. But still, what else could it have been? They had nothing to run away from, and no bodies were ever found. They must be alive somewhere, but in what conditions?
My partner had other ideas though. He is a less pragmatic man. One might ungenerously call him a romantic. Still, in the absence of evidence, his theory is as good as any I think, and more palatable than mine.
“They were too much in love for this world” he said. “So they went somewhere else, in the flash of an eye, or even the flashbulb from a camera, moments after this last photo. They went where only true love can go.”
Who is to say? Perhaps some love is unearthly, and must be re-positioned in the universe. If so, this photo is the moment before a miracle, and the closest thing to evidence of a god, a higher power, than anything I have ever seen.
I find that far more comforting as I age than thinking it is evidence of a crime.
(c) Helen M valentina 2017