The Picture

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
It hung right above her bed, a spot of color on the white wall of her dorm room. Every morning, she woke up to the picture looming over her.
Why did she have it up? Of all the possible pictures and quotes on Pinterest to pick from, why was that above her bed?
It reminded her of her goal. Was it even possible at this point? How was a broke, stressed out college student ever going to achieve that?
It didn’t change her routine, not really. She still had midterms, the occasional, awkward first date, and way too many shoes in her diminutive closet. Sometimes, if she found spare change in her coat pocket, she would set it aside. Sometimes she would fantasize about what would happen if she was the one in the picture. In the end, her life moved on, and she felt like she would never get closer to her goal.
And yet, she never completely gave up. There was something about seeing that picture every morning that gave her hope. It wasn’t just empty, soulless words on a page; it was a vibrant, 8X11 depiction of what could happen someday.
Time passed. Now, the picture was a spot of color on her white bedside table. She heard her children’s footsteps hammering down the halls as she tried to organize her closet, again. She came across the change jar she started in college. The weight of the jar pulled her down as she heaved it off the shelf. She stopped for a moment, glanced at the picture as she quickly checked her bank account.
She had enough.
She hadn’t even realized it. Without thinking, she had saved up enough money, just in time for spring.
The picture sat folded in her passport holder as she boarded the plane. Her children fell asleep as a movie glowed on the seat back in front of them. She couldn’t sleep, the thrill of making her goal a reality kept her awake. She quietly removed the picture and gazed at the familiar image: A girl, in a red hat. Long brown hair flowing in the wind as the Eiffel Tower loomed over her surrounded by a rose-colored sunset in spring.
Like the girl in the picture, her straight, brown hair was under a crimson hat. Unlike the girl in the picture, her brown hair now had some streaks of grey, and she was not alone. That made the experience even more special. Her husband sitting beside her saw her and smiled. She rested her head on his shoulder, and started thinking about what her next picture would be.