In the photo her back is turned and the light is that late afternoon light that at least in the photo, and through the white linen curtains, past her, seems self-conscious, shy or otherwise mild, a kind of light that does not want to be there but has accepted itself as having to be there, a sad portion of the capitalized Light, a castoff bit of light, the aunt without children, the friend who remains unmarried or otherwise without partner, the part of light that enters into any situation awkwardly and wants nothing more than to be gone but cannot be; light that would not be termed bright but has not yet gone gray nor been afforded some bit of color from the impending sunset, flat light, forgotten light, a dying species of light, and her back is turned in the photo, and she is standing off-center in the jamb of the doorway to their bedroom, and she has her hands in front of her, near to her chest, in the manner one would when reading a book or saying a prayer or struggling with the clasp on a necklace, some task that requires a bowed head and at least a bit of focus and it is October, in the photo, late afternoon, and they have come upstairs so she can get a sweater, a striped sweater, a horizontally-striped grey and orange sweater, a cardigan, the collar of which sits low on her back, pulling down her shirt collar with it and showing fully the pale skin of the nape of her neck, those two inches between the collar and her short blonde hair and because she is wearing the sweater, has it on in the photo and is standing with her back turned to him, she knows that they have lingered longer in the bedroom than the time it would take to just grab the sweater and go, but she has no idea now where they went that day, only that it seemed a necessary thing to get the sweater and put it on before they went, and that in that span of time something else caught her eye or otherwise overrode the idea of leaving, something that involved her hands and a bowed head, but she has no idea now what that thing was.


Charles McLeod is the author of a novel, American Weather, and a collection of stories, National Treasures. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the University of Virginia, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and San Jose State University, where he was a Steinbeck Fellow. His third book, a prose hybrid titled Ascoliasm, Zemblanity, is forthcoming from University of Michigan Press/Maize Books as part of their new 21st Century Prose Writers series. His Web site is