The Arc of the Story

Karen Carcia


The narrator says Only the silence is with us. And then the night gets a little colder. But we do not feel alone because the silence is with us. And there is no light, only darkness within the darkness. Imagine walking the uneven terrain. A graveyard at night. With just that blue light. The snow endlessly reflecting out. Just enough to see by, not enough to make the walking hard. Just enough to, here and there, make out the names: Vesta Mae Denrow, Emanuel Finch, Essex Miller, Holland Pike. Just enough to think about the ways we die: strung out, stung by bees, calling out to those who love us, and those who don’t, or not calling out at all, just struck dumb, in awe. Just struck.


Of course, when the narrator says that about the silence you take my hand in the dark of the theatre. We look, for an instant, at each other and then up over the rows to the screen. The light from the projection booth illuminates the tiny particles of dust we’re breathing in. And out.


And after the movie: life, for a moment. It’s 2 a.m. and the humid night shining yellow under the streetlights of Wadsworth Avenue. We’ve all wandered down to the lake and wade right in. Clothes on. A momentary relief. We all breathe. For this moment before:


The way it ends. Car wrecks, drownings, drawing in the last snow-filled breath into the silent lungs. The last luminous gliding. Stopped. Which the narrator, not having been through it, can only describe as darkness within. Darkness.

Karen Carcia is the author of On Subjects of Which We Know Nothing (New Michigan Press 2011). She is currently a Research Assistant at the University of Iowa Center for the Book.