By Kaitlin Schmidt
She wrote of her father’s family, which she met only in dreams. The fabrication of details didn’t upset her conscience because the doctor gave her license to ‘create’ whatever she thought would contribute to healing. Claire created and recreated, things from her mind and life and things from an imagined life she might have lived once.
Instead of unpacking the boxes that formed cardboard towers all around her childhood bedroom, she rummaged in her old desk for paper. Her palms became coated in soft gray dust while she investigated the empty cubbies and drawers. She had been gone long enough for these spaces to be unfamiliar now. Out the window and up the street – the lawns and houses were only the bones of her memories, while all the flesh and color had changed.
She found a yellow legal pad with scribbles about a missed phone call on the top page. She ripped it off and started fresh.
The facts were never nailed down, the youngest sister craved answers but they floated between her fingers like mist, only moistening her palms. She listened to her mother speak of family photographs.
“Some folks in everyday clothes and alongside them full Indians with feathers and beads all the way down.”
They were relatives, she said. The people in the photos were the great aunts and uncles that had left the reservations for a different sort of living and then came back to visit. These photos, though much discussed, could never be produced when relatives were called upon to search them out from top-shelf closet boxes and from basement storage bins.