"Vanishing Point" by Emma Shaw
It was winter, chilly but with a big sun hanging low in the sky, but they liked walking and were wrapped up well against the cold. He carried his camera, he loved photography. She was tolerant of his hobby and secretly thought he was rather good, but it slowed up their walks as he was always stopping to focus on something or another. She was used to it and waited patiently, watching people or admiring the view. This walk took them across a lock, then over the weir by footbridge, through a small park and finally onto the island in the middle of the river. Water on all sides. A good circular walk, popular with dog walkers. And photographers, she supposed, although it seemed a bit samey to her. All that water.
The reflections were good that day, he told her.
Having had a lot of rain the week before the ground was muddy, quite slippery. They trod cautiously, grateful for their good walking boots. When they reached the end of the island, the point where walkers admired the view before heading back, the ground was a bit more solid. On the grass were still patches of the frost that had formed overnight and hadn't yet melted. They stamped some of the mud from their boots and he photographed a cormorant sitting on a buoy in the middle of the river. He said it was too far away, but you never know. She sat on a bench and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. December sun. A treat. They watched the birds, and two squirrels leaping from tree to tree.
On the way back he said he'd go to the bank for a last few shots. She said not to be long, it was getting cold and almost time for lunch. Soup, she reminded him, good winter food. She waited by the gate for awhile and then walked a bit further to the bridge that crossed the weir, watching the water rush and tumble from one stretch of river to the other. The sun was still on the bridge; she spoke to a man and his small son; she leant on the parapet and waited.
There was no splash, she didn't hear anything. When he didn't return she walked back towards where she had last seen him. She called his name. Not a sound, not a cry of a disturbed bird or animal, not a sight of him or the camera. Not a glove even. Vanished.
Police divers searched, but a body was never found. Strong currents, they said, it could have drifted for miles. She didn't agree, he had disappeared so absolutely. So, every week she went to find him. Every week she returned home alone. Months passed and she almost stopped taking the walk. But one afternoon she felt his shadow cross the sun and there, finally was the place. The vanishing point. She followed him through with a soft breath of relief.
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