“Reciting the Histories”
I write to bring you news of your mother’s death was how he began the letter. He read it back to himself. I write to bring you news of your mother’s death. Clear. Informative. Succinct. Paulino was nothing if not to the point. Yet there was something not quite right. Perhaps the slight quiver in the lettering: an awkward finish to the o’s loop or the t’s cross. His hands had not worked fluidly in months and had recently degraded even further. Or it could have been the ink, a simple enough explanation and simple to resolve. The blot over the “I,” the smear into the “th.” But it was difficult to tell in the darkness. Even in the midday, the apartment let in little light. He was planning on adding a lamp to bring balance to the shadows.
Nobody noticed the backpack or the pilfered Faulkners or the drowned boy floating past the Leaf and Liege Coffee Shop window, which did not surprise Calder all that much, since he knew that nobody who lives on the Onion for very long pays much notice to the river or to the scattered chunks of ice rushing downstream during the thaw. That is until the chunks begin to build and converge and sheets begin to undulate and buckle and surge forward. Or until the ice cracks and catches on edges of bank rocks and oak roots and granite piers and rusted iron framework. Until they rise up like great breaching whales in the ocean current. Then it’s too late.