An Unsettled Cloudiness

Camera UnsplashBoone

“What am I looking at?” Tina asks.

“Look closer,” Rivi says.

We are all sitting at my kitchen table. Tina peers at the screen on the back of Rivi’s camera, staring at the picture there, a photo of Rivi’s bedroom from yesterday at three in the morning.

“I don’t see anything,” Tina says.

Rivi gets up from her chair and comes around behind Tina. She points her finger at a spot on the screen, and I know what it is she’s looking at: a blur in the flash-blown photo, a smear in the air, hovering directly over the foot of her bed.

“It’s a reflection,” Tina says.

“It’s not a reflection,” Rivi tells her.

“Look at the mirror,” Tina says. “I can see your camera in it.”

“So can I,” Rivi says. “It’s not a reflection.”

I have another sip of my coffee. I know what Rivi is going to do next, because she did the same thing to me after she snapped the photo. She’s going to zoom in on the blur, and then trace what she sees there with her fingertip: the tilt of a chin, the curve of a nose, the line of an arm trailing down and into the mattress. I can only see it when she points it out to me. It’s like cloud watching in a rainstorm.

“I still don’t see it,” Tina says.

“You’re just not trying hard enough,” Rivi replies.

My phone is on the table next to my coffee cup. I spin it slowly under my fingers, waiting for a reply to the texts and calls I have made since last night. I am becoming more convinced that I am not going to receive one.

“Here’s her hair,” Rivi says. “And her face is here.”

“It’s a smudge,” Tina says.

Even though I lost the details of the blur in the photo as soon as Rivi stopped tracing them, the image in my mind became more clear as time went on. I pick up my phone and dial it: voicemail again.

“I think you’re imagining things,” Tina says.

“Well, Boone believes me,” Rivi says. “Don’t you, Boone?”

“Sure,” I say. “Sure I do.”

My plan is to finish my coffee, and then get into my car and drive. Tina and Rivi can come if they’d like, or they can wait here for my return, but either way I’m going. I can be at Olivia’s place in half an hour. I know where she keeps her spare key.

“You should spend the night,” Rivi says. “See it for yourself.”

“I’m not going to see anything,” Tina says, “but I’ll stay over if it’ll make you feel better.”

The blurred curls of hair hanging across a cloudy shoulder. The misty line of lips, parted as though in the middle of a whispered plea for rescue.

Half an hour’s drive.

The image in the photo looks so much like her.

It’s been days since I’ve heard from Olivia.

Half an hour, and I’m afraid of what I’ll find

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