As Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister, Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape of life without her sister. While her parents fall apart, Claire remains determined to keep going even if it kills her.
THIS IS SARAH serves as a meditation on loss, love and what it means to say goodbye.
They found her red Chuck Taylor sneakers five miles from where her car was, deep in the woods.
One was unlaced, as if she had undone it and slipped her foot out of it right there under that canopy of trees.
The other was still tied.
Snow filled them like little red candies covered in sugar.
In the police station, in that evidence bag, they seemed so small, as the snow slowly melted off them, staining the fabric and dripping into the bottom of the bag. I couldn’t imagine them fitting Sarah’s feet. I couldn’t imagine them fitting my own.
Sarah’s empty shoes.
I thought about how they’d never be worn again. How she would never slide her foot inside, how her fingers would never tug those laces and loop them closed.
Her room back home was filled with things that would go unused. They’d just sit there, waiting for Sarah to come home, collecting dust.
All the things Sarah left behind.
When I saw the shoes, sitting in the police station, a noise escaped me. Not quite a sob, but a cry—a shock of disbelief—and my hope retreated as I realized I was now one of those things. Like her clothes, her jewelry, her records or her shoes.
I was just another thing Sarah left behind.
Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collection The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press) and the children's fantasy Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb (Antenna Books). She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.