HAVE YOU SEEN THIS WOMAN?
Of course you haven’t. If you had, we wouldn't have had these signs printed up.
Maybe you've seen her but didn't know it was her. But that is the same as not seeing her, so we’re back where we started.
The woman that my parents hired to make the signs said that asking a question would spark in the general public a sense of responsibility. She said that people only responded to being addressed directly. She said it it cut down to the nerve quicker than MISSING would.
She flirted with my father, this woman. At the meeting to talk about the signs. She brushed my father’s cufflinks with her pink fingertips. Beautiful cufflinks, she said.
My mother gave the woman a picture of my sister from her senior prom. The picture was years old and still framed. My sister is standing in front of the fireplace in our house. Her hair is piled up and stiff with spray that smelled like pomegranates and silver polish. Her face is shellacked in varying layers of things glossy and matte. Her dress is fuchsia and our mother picked it.
You look really pretty, I told her that night. She told me my views were narrow.
The woman asked my mother if she had any more recent pictures of my sister. Or any in which she looked more natural. How much the picture matched reality, said the woman, could be the difference between finding her and not.
Is there really anyone, I thought, who looks like their pictures? A picture’s just a useless smudge tricked into looking like someone with light and chemicals. There’s nothing realistic about light. The starlight you see is from millions of years ago. The universe has no interest in catching you up.
I can’t stand the carelessness of people who are afraid of the dark. As if anything truly frightening waits patiently for the sunset like a fucking romantic. As if the light can really help you find something that doesn't want to be found.
My mother shook her head, held tight to my sister’s picture. This is what she looks like, she said. She is the most beautiful in this picture. They have to know how beautiful she is. They have to understand that.
HAVE YOU SEEN
Why should you have? It’s not like she was your responsibility, general public.
It’s not like you don’t have enough to worry about. There are pandemics. Nuclear Explosions. Pollution.
They found a two-headed fish in the Hudson River.
You didn't even know her.
Alexandra Kessler received her BA from the Kratz Center for Creative Writing at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. She is currently a MFA Candidate at Brooklyn College. She lives in New York City and is at work on a novel.