Prologue

It was a piece of emptiness that we all drove around - the place where nothing could be built, nothing could be planted, nothing could happen that humans could have a hand in. Satellite imaging gave us all we really knew about the space that we had to skirt, every single day, just to make it to where we needed to be; that was that it was overgrown, and that the foliage was darker than that immediately surrounding. Once in a while, the image on Google Earth was refreshed, and we caught a vague glimpse of reflected sky piecemealed in brown water. It would stay there for a month or more, until they took a new picture from up high. The first time I'd seen that happen, I'd print-screened, not knowing how else to save the image at the time. Silly, really, the icon was right there on the toolbar…but I'd just started using the application at the time, and I'd been irrationally panicked, thinking I'd lose it. We were told a great deal more about the place. Crescent Lake wasn't much of a lake anymore; it had eutrophicated some fifty years ago, and was something akin to marshland now. It was more expensive to drain than most marshland, because it had a connection to the aquifer that sat under the town - it took special equipment to keep from polluting it with half a century's worth of nitrogen buildup and chemical leaching. Too expensive a project if the mayor's Clean and Green running slogan were to be kept free from any damaging irony next election. We were also told, on occasion, about young idiots who wandered into the expanse, and wasted taxpayer money on search parties that had started to become monotonous for the rest of us to hear about. Local news seemed to get a great deal of play out of stories that always turned out the same. Each time it happened, yet more flyers went out to paper the school walls, talks were given, and vigils were held. The red-eyed parents could be glimpsed, seated in the front row of the auditorium as people for whom photo opportunities were a part of life proselytized their cause under cover of expressing a community's grief. Rules were tightened, curfews were discussed, talking heads bobbled at each other about the deeper political meaning of everybody's opinion's and decisions were made or not made in closed rooms nobody knew much about. Nothing really happened. Life went on. The hole in reality fell out of the spotlight, and was not discussed. It wasn't something people wanted to dwell on. To my life, it was essentially background noise; for all that I was one of those that counted and saw the missing faces. I woke up on time, exercised, ate a balanced breakfast, packed a balanced lunch, went to work and came back. I spent absurd amounts of time cooking dinner, ate it as I reviewed tomorrow's notes a final time, and went to bed reading, at ten thirty and no later. The faces, the details, they faded into the background. I could remember any of it if I thought about it, but where was the need to? In retrospect, it looks a great deal like I was begging for something to go wrong.

Date: <2016-05-10 Tue> [2014-08-10 Sun]

Author: Sahiti Chedalavada

Created: 2020-12-14 Mon 02:14

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