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an open book with a torn out page

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“I haven’t seen these photos in years ,” Sandra Lynn was shocked to find the shoebox full of old photos, she didn’t even know she had brought it with her during the move. Honestly she thought she had thrown it away a longtime ago. 

Fig, who had actually managed to be at home this weekend and was helping clean, stopped to walk over and look over Sandra Lynn’s shoulder. Nosy. “What are these?”

Sandra Lynn held one up from the box. Maybe she shouldn’t let Fig see these. There was no organization to the box, but they had photos from her adventuring days to her wedding to the day that Fig was born. She was a mess, and she really thought that she had thrown out most reminders of that. 

When Sandra Lynn realized that she hadn’t answered Fig’s question she tried to refocus, “Just some old pictures of me when I was younger.”

“Like the ones you showed me when I was in prison?”

“Uh,” wow, every once in a while Sandra Lynn just, remember everything that her daughter had been through, “there’s some more of those in here. But some of these are from my adventuring days.”

Fig made a face, like she was thinking about what to say before she said it, “Can I see them?”

Sandra Lynn took another look at the picture in her hand. She was seventeen, but didn’t look anything like the photos she showed Fig in prison. Instead of wearing her leather jacket and messy makeup, she was in traditional adventuring clothes. The wide smile on her face dated the picture, it was definitely before her party fell apart. The couple in the party was standing off to the side, holding hands, but they weren’t looking at each other. The elf was looking at her. She and Fig had already talked about what happened with her adventuring party, and what happened after that, so she said, “Sure, but I look pretty different than the ones I showed you in prison.”

Fig sat down beside Sandra Lynn on the floor, and put her head on her shoulder to look at the photo she was still holding. They were both quiet for a minute while Fig looked. Eventually, in a quiet voice, Fig said, “You were really pretty Mom.”

Was ? Ugh,” Sandra Lynn poked Fig in the side, which shocked a laugh out of her, “shut up. I still am.”

“Of course you are,” Fig bumped her shoulder, “I’m just saying you look really pretty in this photo.”

“Well, thank you,” Sandra Lynn looked at the photo for one more moment. There was a reason she hadn’t seen these photos in years, and she wasn’t necessarily sure she wanted to keep looking at it.

“Do you have any other pictures? Let’s have picture time!” Fig said, and then clapped and reached for the box, but didn’t grab it, giving Sandra Lynn time to pull it away if she wanted to.

She didn’t. She moved the box closer to Fig, “You just don’t want to have to clean.” Sandra Lynn was just teasing her, but it didn’t even seem like Fig was paying any attention once she got permission to go digging into the box. And dig she did. 

“Wait is this your wedding ?” Fig asked, and held up a picture of Sandra Lynn and Gilear in the Elmville County Courthouse. Sandra Lynn couldn’t help but notice how happy they both looked.”

“Yeah, did you not know we eloped?” Sandra Lynn asked. 

“No! But you guys had a party?!” Fig sounded so offended that she didn’t know that Sandra Lynn and Gilear had eloped. 

“We did. A reception. After the courthouse wedding.”

“Why do I always learn that you're a badass through pictures?”

“Huh?” What the hell was Fig talking about?

“Well eloping is badass, and you were cool in high school, and I wouldn’t have known either of those things without pictures,” Fig shook the box with pictures in it. 

“Eloping is badass huh?” Sandra Lynn raised an eyebrow.

Fig blushed, “Shut up.”

Sandra Lynn laughed at how embarrassed Fig got whenever anybody wanted to talk about Ayda with her. Sometimes it made her wish that she was open about her own relationships, Fig had to learn that trait from someone, but Fig’s embarrassment was more cute than anything. 

The next picture Fig held up was another one of Gilear and Sandra Lynn. Gilear had his arm around a heavily pregnant Sandra Lynn, and they were sharing a tender kiss. Oof.

“Oof,” Fig said underneath her breath and quickly put the picture back in the box. They both sat there quietly for a few seconds. It was awkward, Sandra Lynn wasn’t going to try and claim it wasn’t. It was easy to forget that at one point she had betrayed Gilear, when she had still loved him so much. She wasn’t sure she had even classified it as betrayal in her mind. It was hard to explain to other people just how badly the people in her adventuring party had fucked her up. The people she was supposed to trust the most. That’s why she wishes she had thrown out these pictures. Remembering wasn’t always good. 

A little desperate for a change in subject, Fig dug around in the box, “Where are the pictures of me?” Sandra Lynn gave a slightly startled laugh.

“There are some in there, just keep looking.”

Finally, Fig produced a picture of her as a baby. She was wrapped in a yellow, floral baby blanket, and staring at the camera with an absolutely adorable look on her face. Sandra Lynn cooed at the adorable baby picture. She may be biased, but Fig was the cutest baby. 

Except Fig wasn’t looking at the photo like it was a cute baby photo. She wasn’t even bragging about how cute of a baby she was. Sandra Lynn looked over and was shocked by the pensive look on Fig’s face. She wasn’t sure if pensive was even the right word for it. Fig was just staring at it, intensely. 

“Fig?” Sandra Lynn asked softly. It seemed to startle Fig out of the staring contest she was having with her baby self. 

“Huh?” Playing dumb wasn’t Fig’s strong suit when it came to trying to pull one over on Sandra Lynn. 

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Fig said, but Sandra Lynn pinned her with a look. “Fine,” she rolled her eyes. Sometimes, every once in a while, I just forget that I didn’t always look like,” she gestured to herself, “this.”

“Oh,” Sandra Lynn didn’t really know what to say to that. The guilt sat heavy in her stomach. “I guess that would feel weird.”

Fig shrugged, “Yeah it does.” The silence fell over both of them again. Fig was clearly thinking about something, but Sandra Lynn didn’t want to push her. She’d share when she was ready. 

“Maybe we should put the box away for now,” Sandra Lynn said, reaching for the photo in Fig’s hand. Fig let her take it. She put it back in the box, and put the lid. She tried to sigh as subtle as possible. Woof.

The sound of the front door banging open interrupted the suddenly serious moment that was happening. “Fig! Aelwyn!” Fabian yelled into Mordred Manor, “You will never guess what I just heard!”

After Fig’s head sharply turned towards the noise she swiveled back to look at Sandra Lynn, “Can I go?”

“Of course sweetie,” Sandra Lynn smiled. “Don’t get home too late and text me if you end up staying at the Seacaster’s.”

“I will!” Fig stood up before bending back down and surprising Sandra Lynn with a hug. “I love you Mom,” she whispered in Sandra Lynn’s ear before standing back up. Before she could run away Sandra Lynn caught her by the wrist.

“I love you too.”

Fig was off like a shot, probably going to get ice cream with Fabian and Aelwyn. That group confused her so much but she had learned by now not to question it. She looked at her box of pictures again. Despite all the feelings they brought up, she liked her pictures, and what they represented. And she really didn’t have the strength to throw them out.