The Last Photo

See more Photo Fridays in Andi’s Attic >>

There is a story behind the last picture taken of Riley and me before Riley left the ranch. Here are a couple of excerpts. #1 – Early December 1876; #2 – June 1884

#1 – From the end of the short story, Andi’s Christmas Good-bye >>

Andi flung herself on her bed and tried to think. She couldn’t give Riley a kitten. His mother might not let him keep it. She couldn’t send a baby chick or a calf, either.

She glanced at the piggy bank on her bookshelf. There was no use counting her money. What few dimes, pennies, and quarters she found were no good today. Not when the town’s stores were closed.

Besides, whatever she bought—a top, a whistle, or a bright-blue bandana—were just things. Riley wouldn’t find anything special in store-bought toys.

Just then, the Sunday afternoon sunshine shone in through the French doors. Something reflected off a piece of glass on her shelf, catching Andi’s eye. She sat up and took a closer look. Sitting next to her piggy bank, a photograph in a gilded gold frame rested. The picture showed a girl and a boy, along with their horses.

Andi reached up. Trembling fingers took hold of the picture and she brought it close to her face. Just last month, Aunt Rebecca had arrived at the ranch on one of her famous surprise visits. Along with a couple of wide-brimmed hats for Andi and Melinda, she also brought a young man, a photographer.

Andi didn’t want to argue with her aunt, so she put on her white dress and the horrible hat. Then she stood stiff as a statue while the fussy photographer hid under his black cloth and snapped her picture. 

Later, after Melinda was subjected to the same picture-taking event, Andi came up with an idea—an excellent idea. Perhaps the photographer would be willing to take a picture of Andi and Riley and their horses. Aunt Rebecca hemmed and hawed and frowned, but she finally agreed to make the arrangements.

Andi studied the photograph in her hands. A smile cracked her face. Riley had not been too happy about this idea, but he’d gone along with it. Good ol’ Riley! He stood stiffly, looking like he wished he was anyplace else. Andi, dressed in white, stood next to Riley in front of her young filly. Andi and Riley. Taffy and Midnight.

Sudden, happy tears swam in Andi’s eyes. This was the perfect Christmas good-bye. Riley could not forget Andi if he had her likeness. She quickly found a scrap of tissue paper and tied up the package with a bright-blue ribbon.

When Andi finished, she set the gift on her bedside table. Then she whispered, “I can’t wait to see his face!” [read the entire story Christmas 2021]

#2 – from The Last Ride

“Andi.”

She sat up with a start. Riley stood in front of her. He brought a small, tissue-wrapped package from behind his back and held it out. “I can’t afford anything fancy, but happy birthday.”

Andi tore away the wrappings. She caught her breath at the gilt-framed photograph. A small girl dressed in white stood by a young Taffy. A little boy was beside her, holding tightly to the reins of his big, black horse. Andi and Taffy. Riley and Midnight.

The memory came back to her as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. Aunt Rebecca had brought along a photographer on one of her visits, and Andi coaxed her into having this picture taken. A month later, Riley left the ranch for good.

“I . . .” Andi swallowed the wave of emotion that washed over her. “I gave this to you when you left so you wouldn’t forget me.” She winced. He had remembered her, but how quickly she had forgotten Riley. “You kept it all these years.”

Riley was smiling. “I sure did. Now I’m giving it back to you. You can look at it now and again when you miss Taffy and remember the happy times.”

Andi studied the faded image. Riley had been a good friend all those years ago. He was a good friend now. He’s been like a brother to me, she thought and looked up. “Thank you, Riley. Thank you for everything.”

Riley nodded his understanding. “Better get some rest.” He turned and quietly left the room.

Published by Andi Carter

I'm the main character in the Circle C Adventures series. I live on a huge cattle ranch in 1880s California. These are my adventures.

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