Jon stared at the old photo, his one eye watering. Turning his face away from the watching Wellborne, he rubbed at it, trying to disguise his emotion as a speck in the eye.
Wordlessly, Mrs. Wellborne handed him a white cotton handkerchef with crochetted lace all around the edges, before returning to the kitchen.
"Thank you, sir," Jon said, straining to keep his voice level. "Thank you for showing me that." About to hand it back, he stopped and turned the photo over, hoping for any other scrap of information, but the card backing was unmarked beyond the trademark.
Wellborne took the photo, flipped it back, pointed to the tallest man. "That's Zeb," he indicated. The second tallest man, "That's Jon....this must have been taken right before he left. Nobody around here ever saw him again." The teenager, "I don't remember the other boy's name.....I guess Zeb's wife had died by this time, I don't see her, and I seem to remember that Jon left shortly after she died."
"Mr. Wellborne...." Jon started, his voice shaking.
"Henry, Jon, call me Henry," he interrupted.
Jon swallowed. "Henry, would it be possible for me to borrow that photo long enough to get a copy made of it? I promise I'll take good care of it, and bring it right back to you."
"Oh, sure, take your time, no hurry, it's not like I take those old things out and look at them all the time. In fact, why don't you have a copy made of both of them for me, and just keep the originals for yourself? If that is your family....well...I guess you should have them, right?"
Jon had trouble replying, finally managed to choke out, "Thank you, sir, I'll get them back to you as soon as I can," in a hoarse whisper.
Jon opened the yellow, black and white envelope, peered inside, carefully slipped his hand inside and guided the photos into the light.
Putting them on the surface of the small table in his efficiency, he slid them to sit side-by-side with the hand drawings and computer recreations he had gotten from Rachel Torres.
He had had the photos of the Norman families enlarged, and now he scanned the faces, looking for any signs of resemblance.
Perhaps it was his imagination, perhaps he was only seeing what he wanted to see....but he thought he did see some similarity, particularly between the age-regressed computer image of himself as a teenager, and the teenaged son of Zebebiah Norman, the younger brother of Jonathan Norman.
Copyright terraforming.com, November 26, 2012