Was there really nothing left to see? Her eyes blinked a few times. The world was still there each time she opened her eyes, but what was she seeing? If all the photos were gone, had life gone too?
Ahead of her on the sidewalk a figure moved off into the distance, vanishing gradually over the tip of the hill along with the two parallel points at the end of the sidewalk. Life was going on, she thought with relief -but then she realized that life went on regardless of what people did.
Life was as essential as the rocks at her feet. She looked down at one of the stones that crouched on the edge of the sidewalk between the concrete and the grass. One could argue that the rock was living. If the rock could talk, it would speak of its millennium of moving earth to make mountains -and about how it was now a humble, overlooked rock by the side of the road.
Humble though it was, the life of the little stone would go on. Life would go on. Then why were there no more pictures? Her palms felt a little sweaty, and the camera was slick in her hands. Fumbling a little, she put it away before she dropped it.
She was reminded suddenly of the story of the painter whose beloved wife had died suddenly and far too young. He’d kept her alive by painting picture after picture of her -in their garden; in their kitchen; in their bed. She’d always thought the story was a silly myth; just a fun thing to know and to share -but certainly not to believe. But, now...
What if he’d not been able to paint her or, worse, not paint anymore at all?
Then he would have done nothing.
And then not only her life -his wife’s life -would have ended, but his life would have ended too.
She felt anxious. A shadow passed overhead, causing her to draw in a sharp breath. She looked up, but it was only the sun moving behind a cloud. She shook her head. Actually, it was a cloud passing over the sun. She shook her head again. It was just a cloud and it was just the sun. She felt as though her brain were folding over and over again in on itself, collapsing like a piece of folded paper into an impossible origami.
The weight of her picture-less camera very much on her mind, she stuck her hands in her coat pockets and trudged up the sidewalk, eventually disappearing over the crest of the hill, where the parallel lines of the sidewalk disappeared too.