Lake Effect, Spring 2013, Volume 17: Afterlives

Teresa Barnett



The Rexall parking lot was where we found it: the dingy envelope, its photos fanned across the asphalt like playing cards.  Once home, we could not stop arranging them: laying them edge to edge across the kitchen table, then sweeping them into our palms, beginning all over again. “What if the woman here is related to—?  Wouldn’t that explain—?”  Or “If we assume that this picture follows directly after that one—” Trying to make sense of what were in fact only light-sensitive squares layering the kitchen table.

A dusty road trails into the distance.

A stretch of gravel gapes beneath the sky.

Past another stretch of dust, a heap of rusty auto parts, a man hunkers over an object we cannot see.  His body turns from the camera, face blurred, a white streak of motion.

There are no interiors, only this endless space of sand and sky.  Figures look into the camera, turn away, but from picture to picture not one face reappears.  There are no crowds, no family picnics, no laughing clusters of two or three.  Just this sand, this sky, these solitary figures, thin limbs dwindling into too-bright sand.