Not long after the people disappeared and left their clothes behind, #piles became a thing on Twitter. Some of the pictures were probably real: the one of an old lady’s tweed skirt and pantyhose, with a worn sepia-toned picture of a man in an army uniform. The one that hit me hardest: a split screen picture, with two pairs of jeans, a note left in the pocket of each pair: One said, “I love you.” The other said, “Let’s be friends.” #piles. #mylovelife.
Some of the pictures looked staged: I doubt that even the most devout Christians actually had Bibles in their pockets when they were called up. (Underneath the picture: DM me if you #repent.) An LGBTQ group staged a #piles with those yellow and navy equality stickers. Planned Parenthood staged a #piles with a pair of jeans containing pockets full of condoms: #Jesus<3MaryMagdelene. They wanted to send the message that God doesn’t support abstinence-only education. The worst #piles: a thwarted school shooter left a hit list, black x’s over school pictures. It caused a whole hashtag war. It also made me think, though, of the Old Testament God, and vengeance, and how the meek shall inherit the earth.
I gave the #piles people the benefit of the doubt. We’d been through a trauma. School closed for three weeks after it happened. When it opened again, those old WWJD bracelets became popular. In case another disappearance happened, kids wanted other kids to think they were saved.
I started carrying things I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be caught with, if another wave of disappearances began. I wore cuter underwear than I had previously—pink lace instead of blue cotton. I carried a small book of poetry by John Donne. My friend Mark carried a silver-plated guitar pick and a set-list for our band, Spidermouth. It’s like, if we weren’t living for Twitter already, now we definitely were.
What my mom left, that I did not turn into a #piles: one pair of jeans, one pair of underwear, one bra, and one shirt. Me, with a million questions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Allison Pinkerton received her MFA from the University of Central Florida. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Review Review, Necessary Fiction, Fiction Southeast, and the Ploughshares blog, among others.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Eric Clausen