“Not just a farm – a working farm – with chickens, cows, and crops to harvest,” the woman told her husband. She cradled the black and white snapshots in her hands like eggs, precious and fragile.

He crumpled the newspaper into his lap, like he was dismissing its contents as lies. “And just who do you expect to take care of those animals, those crops? Jesus, Anne, we don’t even have our own lawn,” he said, pointing out the window to the street.

“They don’t want a lot for it,” she pleaded, “and you said we needed to get out of the city.”

“Yeah, to the suburbs. Not the boonies,” he said, snapping the paper back into shape.

She laid the photographs on the kitchen table one by one, face down, as if she were playing a game of Memory. The glassy eyes of the cows, the lean-to stacked with firewood, the silo dredged in rust, the blades of tall wheatgrass overgrown around the fenceposts: images of decay and promise burned into her camera-eye like a negative.

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