The houses were dressed in white clapperboard, at least one season past due a fresh coat. They stood sentinel, set too far back from the tarmac. The street didn’t go anywhere, didn’t come from anyplace. Just was. The tiled roofs were grey. The large spread of cloud hanging overhead; grey. It reached over the whole neighbourhood, right into the east where it met a jagged strip of sky; a lighter, brighter shade of grey; its edge the shape of a torn sheet of paper.
Kim and Evan were out front. Yellow light spilled from an open doorway; it fell across their backs, settled over discarded sofa-cushions and rotting seats, reflected off thick posts holding up the porch roof. The wooden trellising had been a cornflower blue. Now faded, smashed through in several places, it too was grey.
Kim perched herself on an old picnic table. Her legs dangled, not reaching the decking, hands clasped around the edge, arms tucked close to her body, shoulders hunched. Blonde hair tickled the small of her neck.
Evan stood shirtless, in khaki chinos. His hair shorn, except for the blemish of a Mohawk, clinging tight across his scalp.
A beat-up soft-top mud-brown Cadillac pulled up a door down, opposite the empty lot where the Sanders used to live, before they disappeared, and the house got knocked down. Now it was just a patch of dirt and gravel. Puddles collecting where the wife used to cook dinner each night, and where the family would watch their broke-up TV-set with food resting on their knees.
The pools were still. They reflected the sky, and the street, and the telegraph poles with their black wires, strung spaghetti-like from house to house.
The car engine cut and a man fell out the driver’s side and staggered off. An elderly woman, hair faded silver like the sky, like the street, the houses, like all of it. She jerked open the front passenger door. Party balloons wafted out, shades of purple and pink; spots of brightness; accidental spills. They settled on the puddle, dispersing slowly.
Kim said, ‘To me that don’t make a damn bit of sense.’ She was rocking back and forth on the table. ‘That make any sense to you? Ev’n?’
He hacked up a ball of phlegm, shaped it in his mouth, and sent it with consummate skill over the splintered railing. ‘In this neighbourhood, did anythin’ ever make sense?’
‘Pass me the lighter.’ Kim sparked up. She took a drag on the cigarette. Blew smoke into the cool air. Watched the grey mist spreading until it became nothing. After a minute, she said, ‘No, I guess not.’
Photograph by Gregory Crewdson