Rolf Samuels

Photo Credit: Kara Brugman/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

I’d suggested an estate sale in Colona. It was a Sunday in early October, cloudy, not yet cold. M collected vintage blue bottles, a particular tint you couldn’t always tell from the photos on an eBay posting. M liked to drive, which was fine with me, but she was between cars, so today I steered and she navigated. We drove and drove, further and further east from the neighborhood where I’d mapped the sale. Houses thinned. Fields of stubbled corn grew.

“This can’t be right.” I pulled over, parked the car, and reached for the map unfolded on her lap. M couldn’t fold maps, but she needed them. She never got fully comfortable finding her way around the Quad Cities. She hadn’t grown up there, and her powerful memory wasn’t very spatial. I folded the map so the exposed panel showed Colona. “We’re here.” I pointed. “We need to go here.” I pointed. I handed her the map and u-turned the car.

I don’t remember being angry. I remember my voice as calm. That is what I remember.

M stayed mute, turned her face from me. She studied the flickering power poles. The car’s wheels whined. M rolled down her window. She held the flapping map at arm’s length and released it. “No. No, we don’t.” Behind us, the map fluttered, a mangled kite.


Rolf Samuels is an English professor at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin. “Maps” is part of a larger work, Prospects, in which a Quad Cities copy editor excavates the debris of a fallen romance. Email: risamuels[at]

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