When the eyes scour the photo, they will notice, however unconsciously, that the photographed hands hold each in thirty-seven places. No matter whose eyes look at it, no matter what species will find the photo, they will be amazed by it.
On the deserted planet of the worst people during their worst time, the photo was taken of two hands, one cupped inside the other as they looked into the abyss, and the abyss looked back.
Still, they held tight. Terrified, and yet curious of when their paths would cross again. Whether as space dust or as birds in another galaxy, they knew that they would find each other; they were always destined to meet.
The photo, after being taken, was printed. The ink captured all of the rough calluses of their skin, though the paper was smooth and perfect because their hands held thirty-seven times more brilliantly than anyone else’s ever had.
The photo, left behind as all of the lives were, will remain on Earth for many years. Alone.
But, one day, someone, something, will happen across it: the last piece of evidence that humans existed once.
Perhaps a worm will decompose the photo. A young child of another species will evolve enough to have hands, and will hold the paper in between their fingers. A bacterium will learn how to read, and, with it, will become human.
One day, a hand, a foot, a beak, or a tail will somehow, in some way, hold the photo in their clutches. The nerves of their bodies will feel the engraving carved into the paper of the photograph, words kept beneath the inky dream of two people and understand, as they, too, had understood, that it was okay.
It was not so bad.
Writing and photography by Hazel J. Hall.