It was the only photograph of me as a child. Standing on my parents’ side board for over forty years, its silver frame ritually polished every week. I was dressed like a girl but my mother said in those days children were always dressed alike! My parents were hidden behind a woman who was holding me like a cherished possession. She looked so impressed with me that I kept asking who she was. My mother would sigh and turn away with a shrug. My father saying only her name was Josie. He spoke the name as if it was magical and it hung in the air tantalising and distressing my mother.
The auctioneer turns the frame over and says “twenty pounds, maybe a bit more”. I feel a tinge of regret, slipping the photo into my jacket pocket, but I need the money. My mother wouldn’t notice it was missing. She now lives in a care home. My father, long gone, is living with some young girl in Bexhill. He says she is his carer but she speaks with an accent and looks like she knows a good opportunity when she sees one. I expect his will is in her favour.
Not much left to sell. The photo is creased. I flatten it out on the kitchen table and stare at the woman. Maybe I could try and find her. She’s probably dead by now. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll visit my father and ask about Josie. If she’s still impressed with me maybe she’ll give me things to sell.