The Counter Narrative #1

3 December 2020


This is the start of a series of posts, a counter narrative from the future, numbered in sequence.

This story, and the ones that will follow, have been locked inside me for a long time. As I tell each one, it vanishes like a dream. It’s a strange phenomenon, but it means that all of these stories, published here one by one, are becoming yours. As you read each word, there is a pop of light and it is transferred to you. Please take care of my stories. And time is short: I can sense this in the way I hear my children talking about me and what they will do.

Let me start. In the dawn of 2030, I came across a box of Polaroid film with eight images in it and I realized these were the last eight images I ever made. For reasons that will become clear. Not because of a battery problem, because an SX-70 ingeniously has the battery in the film. Not because the film was old, and it was old. You will see how the colors have shifted. Polaroid was like that. Part of the charm.

Each film plate is a memory of something I feared losing those many years ago. I have posted the first image above. Look at the sparkling water. There were times you could walk along a pathway and see fresh water coming up from the ground. You could drink it if you wanted to, but that would be crazy. Drink in that image, I should say. There will be seven more like it.

I made these images, however casual or haphazardly composed by squinting through an optical viewfinder, because they are documents of lost or vanishing things. If they seem melancholy to you, don’t worry, the Reversal is coming. Just read to the end and you will see. At the time, however, when these images were made, no one had heard of the Reversal. We were on repeat. The future was on repeat.

Many of you will not remember when water was freely available. Water, in its very transparency, in its nothingness, was easy to take for granted. Then it stopped, as many other things did.

I hear my children and I feel the urge to write faster. Will that frighten you? I can parallel process several stories at once but that is because of certain hardware that I have available to me, a skill that you may lack. Sorry. I only want you to think about water. How it can go everywhere. Think of the life of something transparent but not weightless, powerful yet gentle. If you can help me out now, just close your eyes for a moment and think something nice about water.

Thank you.

I’m glad you tried that.

Next week, I will post the next photograph and the next story.

(c) Lee Schneider 2023. Take care of each other. Subscribe.