I look at the photograph and I think of lost opportunities, those gaping holes in the past that went unrecorded by the camera. I wonder how I came to be borrowing someone else’s image. There’s a girl on the beach being held by a man and she’s black and white. There’s a woman, not my mother and she’s French. The wind is blowing sideways and my forehead was high, even then. I’m wearing a pleated dress which I think was navy blue with a red anchor on the hip.
I look at the photograph and I think of how it felt to be alone, flying through the wind. I don’t even know where I was or where I was going to, it was a blur.
I look at the photograph and remember Brighton. Remember the glances as I removed my shiny red helmet. Remember the bikes lined up on the sea front and chips dripping down my chin and hot ring doughnuts coated in sugar. Remember slipping my greasy fingers back into the fingers of my gloves and the lining getting snagged on my rings and having to start again and poke the lining back into the finger holes. Remember the way the road curves left and right, pulling down on the throttle to make it up the hill without losing speed. Hoping that there’s no queue at the other side.
I look at the photograph and I think of how it could have been me. A tangled mess of metal, fragments of a life distributed around a tree trunk. Who cleans up the mess after the wreckage is gone and the onlookers have given up and gone home?
I look at the photograph and I think I can remember because that’s all there is to do. I was alone.