Featured Letter

The Separation

by Angela Caravan

 

D—

After you dropped us off on the other side of the precipice, I immediately went looking for our cabin, or signs of where it might be nearby. I remembered the three trees near the fork in the road before you drive up. But it was getting dark soon. The days are frighteningly short this time of year.

I found a house that looked empty not far from the road, so Colin and I went in it for shelter. It had some signs of being abandoned: there was food in the fridge and in the fruit bowl on the counter. The food hadn’t rotted but it was looking past fresh. People don’t usually leave bananas lying around like that until they are spotted. Not these days.

I looked around a bit and saw that there were photos of a family on the fridge. A whole range of people, in fact. It was there that I noticed a familiar face: a photo of my aunt and her husband, looking jolly at a New Years party. That must have been before all this. It was a shock to see her there, so joyful.

Soon, a large group of teenagers trundled through the house with determination, being commanded by a sturdy woman with mousy cropped hair. Our presence didn’t seem to surprise her.

She commanded one of her sons to take us to the nearby shelter, that there were spots there where we could stay through the night. He could drive us, as it was now too cold to walk, but it wasn’t far.

I had questions for her, and the first I asked was if she’d seen the cabin or knew where it was. Past the three trees and the fork, on Hollyhock Road. She said she thought that was on the other side of the crevice (not the one we crossed together, the one further north that passes east to west). That the gap only closes up for two months of the year, otherwise it’s impassable.

I was hardened by this news and what it would mean for us to find each other again (as I verified later at the shelter, what she told us was indeed true). But at least we know where we are, for now.

I had more questions, but she was rushing us out the door. She wanted to be rid of us.

“You have a photo of my aunt on your fridge. Heather Woods. And her husband, Darryl. Do you know them?”

She stared back at me then said, “I did, once. That was a long time ago. I haven’t seen them.”

Her response was odd and I suspected she was lying. I know that it’s not uncommon for people to fill their fridge with photos (or notes!). With the way things are now, it helps people to find each other.

Later, lying in a cot at the shelter I’d realize that that News Years photo could have been from 1999, the year before this all happened. I was at that party with my aunt, you were too. But I hadn’t realized in time to ask the woman, or seek out other faces in the background of the photo.

As she hustled us towards the car with her son, I barely had a chance to pull out my notebook and scribble down our names. I almost put some brackets around yours, or added a note about you, to explain that you weren’t with us at the time. You know how I like clean records. Misunderstood notes have only added to our troubles.

But instead I just listed you there, after Colin. Our last names lined up in a stack. I explained it to her the best I could, hoping this solic mother would carry these words to wherever they needed to go.

“He dropped us off near here…just hours ago. He’s looking for a place for us to live,” I said.

But she just shut the car door and didn’t reply.

Yours,

A

Angela Caravan lives in Vancouver, BC. She is the author of the micro-chapbook Landing (post ghost press) and was 2nd runner-up for Pulp Literature’s 2018 Magpie Poetry Award. Her work has also appeared in Longleaf Review, Reel Honey Mag, and Screen Queens. You can find her on Twitter at @a_caravan.