I stare at the picture in my hands.
In it, a man and a woman smile up at me. They are holding hands and staring into the camera. The man has blond hair and green eyes. His pink lips are parted slightly, exposing just a bit of teeth. That was the way he always smiled at me. Indulgent. It touched his eyes – I could tell by the way the corners wrinkled. His skin was lightly tanned, stretched over his muscles tightly. He was wearing the shirt I had bought for him my first semester at college, one with my university's name on it in our school colors. He looked good in it, and he knew it.
He was the kind of person who thought he knew everything. He was smart enough to get into the mechanical engineering program at his first-choice college. He was worldly enough to know how to handle his emotions in a conflict. He what was best for the woman. It isn't a bad kind of love because I think she understands that he is only trying to help her. He wants to make her better, but in doing so, he will make her into something else, something that isn't her.
I stare at the woman. Her smile is quiet, and though she is holding hands with the man, her grip is weak in his. I can tell that she is cowering inside. She is afraid the picture won't turn out right, that she'll look bad, that he'll think it looks bad, and they'll have to throw it away. She is thinking about how he will tell her it was a stupid idea to take a picture together because only the couples with something to prove take pictures like this.
I can tell she is planning on printing the picture out and keeping it, anyway. She'll tuck it into her journal and take it out every day to look at, but she won't tell him she kept it. He'll call her sentimental, tell her they don't look right together in the shot. She shouldn't keep a picture like that because her smile looks wrong, unnatural.
He is right, of course. Her smile is wrong because it is fake. She can't be happy like this. She can't do anything but cry and try and get him to care the way she wants him to, but he won't, of course.
I take the top corners of the picture between my fingers and rip it neatly in half, separating the man and the woman.