My skin is sepia now. I crawl into bed next to my pilot husband that didn’t come back from his sky mission.
When I was a kid, I was scared a black hole might appear like a L’Engle portal. I wanted to go to Space Camp but only with Lea Thompson and impossibly beautiful teenagers who impossibly took off in a rocket. It was too expensive so I imagined the blue flight suits were uncomfortable like gym uniforms.
I read recently when you step into a black hole, you don’t disappear completely. Instead, you sink in and return later in scattered spots of yourself.
“What’s the point of black holes?” I ask Tim that last morning.
“There are no black holes on our flight path, just Toledo.”
He stands on the porch a little longer, staring into the baby’s brown eyes. I hand him coffee with a lid that isn’t quite tight enough, hoping he spills it down his white pilot’s uniform. Instead, he tightens the lid and kisses me with his tan Selleck mustache.
I didn’t study space in college. To my parent’s horror, I study antique ways of taking photographs, Brownie cameras, Leicas, history, death images.
I’m fascinated by a documentary authenticating a newly-discovered Abraham Lincoln deathbed photograph, an ambrotype. I watch to see if 19th century Lincoln comes back to life on television. I’ve studied the president and the photography form; it has the same blurred hue as my face, my dress, my hands, my baby, our house’s paint. A tan still alive ambrotype.
It’s windy on the sun that morning. The newscasters report like they know science but they’ve only been to Space Camp and not the Lea Thompson movie version, the boring one where you share a cabin with Angela Adams.
I imagine Tim as Lea Thompson but without a helping adult to guide him in Toledo’s troubled airspace. The sun is confused. His plane is confused.
I find Tim’s face hair bits on my black crepe dress that I haven’t worn since his dad died. When the pastor finds me, I brush them, brush Tim into my hands.
“You look a little pale,” he says. “Want some coffee?”
I slap the Styrofoam cup with my balled up full-of-hair fist. A tan stain spreads down his white shirt.
“Would you like to see him for a few minutes alone?” He asks.
I follow him to the viewing room. Tim looks like Lincoln, too tall for his coffin bed. I pull out my camera and snap one image and another and then twelve. Pastor Greg pulls me away.
“I bet you stole from Lincoln’s wife too.” I say clutching my camera.
Abraham Lincoln gives the funeral service. He says four score and twenty years ago and young mother and brave and sees the face of God.
Holding hands with Mary Todd, I wait for Tim to polka dot the pews from the Toledo black hole. I’ll develop the film tomorrow.