Letters Cover.JPG

Letters (1855)

A preview by way of a postscript:

Such is the world that James and Sadie Gray found themselves after finding in each other the deepest of sympathies upon meeting at the Declaration in Seneca Falls. A sympathy no doubt as expansive as the very land they entered.

The Sentiments they shared are no doubt one reason Sadie has such a feeling for The Hollow, which, one might assume, will result in her taking a turn 'visiting' as did Lettie, Germaine, and a host of other women from the surrounding area. Should her visit take place, it will afford her the opportunity to send missives to James and he to her, letters taking the same route, by different hands, carrying different stories ... stories.

Yves's desire to stand up and be counted will no doubt lead to his leaving the area, indeed joining the Union forces in the upcoming conflict. But for slight details of the order of trading his boots for an harmonica, his fate can easily be determined by visiting any number of the websites devoted to documenting the slightest detail of the who what when where how of every moment of the conflict.

One suspects that Watt will marry a Hollow girl, perhaps even Kenna Mochrie. That Zeke will be lost to history. That Robert and Prue will continue to live in sin and share stories of their own design, stories that capture each other's imaginations and desires. Stories recounted as the candle flickers and spits.

The Mochries will slowly fade into genealogical annotations. There will, as a matter of course, be a letter from the Mochrie Society, a "Dear Nairne Mochrie, what a thrill it was to see your poem "Beauty" as published in the...."

The Miss Ronaults will disperse, some homeward, some to points west -- Chicago, St. Louis -- some east. Some, inspired by James and Sadie and Dr. Annabelle Whitehall, will find nursing. Some will, like Nessie Drummond, make their pact with the devil, off to the telegraph companies. Some will find husbands and families. Some God. Missionary tales of sin and redemption.... Tales of convenience. One will become an artist, or writer, or musician of some renown. Another will be enamored with politics. Yet another will graduate from an establishment of higher learning.

Grace and Harry will survive, to be celebrated in a serial silent filmed in the early 1920s by Station Films in Utica and filmed in North River and the Barton Mines, and starring a local girl and a young man who drifted as he passed into Hoofdorp, drifted into the expanse, and so into Homer and out again. The local girl will, of course, have survived near-deaths of her own -- a fall, a mis-diagnosis (high blood pressure for low), a childhood disease, but will suffer post-birthing seizures, which, under the supervision of James would have been considered merely that, several post-birthing seizures, but which, with the coming of bromide and the need to find a use, will be considered something to 'treat,' thereby leading to a life of back-and-forths, out of the expanse and back, to Syracuse and back along Routes 5 and I-90, for the latest monitorings and pharmaceuticals. Her story. We might give her a name ... Velda. We might give her a baby sister ... Little Veld, born as their mother thought Velda was going to die from the childhood disease then current.

The films themselves will be preserved, but declared lost. Lost due to insufficient 'evidence of importance to film history,' therefore unworthy of monies for restoration. Preserved, but not restored. Locked away in film canisters, unviewable, unseeable, and, so, lost.

It should come as no surprise that, with the daily and televised death counts, Homer/Hoofdorp/Harring Cross/Beebe/Slab/ and the rest of the expanse will look to its dead, cemetery to cemetery, headstone by headstone, correlated with the announcements in The Ode; that there will be a young woman, perhaps named Gwen, who is charged by the town to conduct the count, and who will attempt to negotiate that exercise with the loss of her boyfriend, who has escaped the draft via the bridge at the falls, a boyfriend who waits, expectant, for her to follow, or so she believes, as she counts, as she supervises the move of a cemetery, the digging and transplantation of hundreds of bodies, for a shopping mall. As she counts the dead. As she conducts her own census. As she begins to recognize a slippage, a mother who's been moved, a child unaccounted. As she discovers the small, never-remarked-upon cemetery, a cemetery beyond the expanse, uncharted even within the expanse, visited by those young women who never made it to The Hollow. Who never made it to James and Sadie or others who....

One would not be surprised if the entire area, floating free as it has for more than two hundred years, untethered by the loss of its name, floating free but maintaining some semblance of a border with the countable world, is made real again, made real as the rest of the world, and therefore vanishes with the millennia, with the rewriting of hard drives to zeros, with the effacing all of the ones such that history, nay, née memory, are reduced to naught.

And the daughters Nessie Drummond shall be free.

The stories people tell.