Almost every school had one. He was the runner who overtook the camera to appear at both ends of the school year picture; a mix of vanity, youth, and rebellion. Today, his double would undoubtedly fall victim to the orthodoxy of Photoshop editing. But there once was a time when speed and timing made the difference; when a cheeky kid could still cheat time and make magic.
We'd been going out together for a couple of years. She'd moved in with me in a small rented flat, in a relatively quiet area of town. We had a terrace and she grew roses.
I would wake up early to drive to the office before the rush hour. Every day, I would cut a fresh rose and put it on the kitchen table, before leaving home. It was a kind of ritual. When the roses ran out, I started leaving notes. Every morning, I would write a note and hide it in a new place. During lunch break, I'd call her from work, and give her some hint, as to where she could find the note. It was a game.
One morning when I was looking for a new place in which to hide my note, I found one myself. It was written by her. I reread it a few times. It was almost as if I believed that, by rereading it, its meaning would somehow magically change. But it never did. And the meaning was clear. I went into the kitchen and burnt the note I had been meaning to leave behind. I walked out of the flat and headed for the office. There was no spring in my step. None.
That day never seemed to end. I toyed with the idea that she may change her mind. I even had the bizarre notion that she had wanted me to find the note, and that it was all a joke. But it made no difference. When I got home, she was gone and so were her things, and there was a note on the kitchen table. A window was open and she had put an apple on the note to prevent it from flying away. The apple was shiny and red, and almost looked fake. I remember smelling it to check it was real, while reading the note. It was the same note. It was the note I had found that very morning. It was a note to end all notes.