Old photographs, childhood pictures, the ones you show people after they love you because it's too embarrassing otherwise. The crooked home haircut, the awkward mountain teeth, birthmarks, jangling knock knees. Horrible fashion choices, a combination of a different time and the clothing blindness of children. In photo after photo he is standing with a group of people, a crowd of friendly smiling faces, and sometimes he smiles too but he is always off to the side, always a step away from everyone else, looking away from the photographer at something we can't see, his hand shielding his eyes and the shadow hides his face, or turning away at the last minute, his face a blur. Unfocused, as life was then, and somewhat unreal. I remember this time as if it were a dream, a dream in which my feet were stuck in mud, and I was trying to run with my child in my arms but I could not escape and I was terrified that I could not carry him to safety; I was afraid we carried the danger with us. I look at these pictures and I cannot imagine how I ever thought life was normal then or would ever be okay when it so clearly was not and could never be, not from where we were. And yet now somehow it is okay; it's as if it always has been. I look at these pictures and I realize that when he shows them to people, they will laugh at the pants too short, the bangs he cut by himself, the goofy smile. There is a record here of something terrible, a shadow falling across the smile, but it is a visual dog whistle, a thing you can only see when you're tuned to it, the circles under his eyes could be just a trick of the light, and if I'm the only one who knows or remembers the truth, then that's not bad. The pictures don't lie, after all.